Back pain treatment – drug free!

Looking for effective back pain treatment?

There can be multiple causes and multiple solutions.

The first steps in any back pain treatment are:

  • Diagnosis
  • Figuring out whether it’s a muscular, skeletal or nerve issue
  • Seeking help from a health care professional.

back pain treatment

**The following article presumes you don’t have something nasty like a herniated disc or sciatica.**

If your (particularly lower) back pain is deemed due to muscular tightness, there is a drug free back pain treatment you can try. It’s like this. In my experience, doing this gets rid of the problem in 9 out of 10 cases. Even if it isn’t the solution, it won’t do any harm.

Sounds like a pretty good back pain treatment, right?!

Here goes:

Squat and Stretch.

That’s it.

Check this out for the ‘What’, ‘Why’ and ‘How’:

First of all, let’s start with the squat.
Here’s a video of Coach Nav with a beautiful demonstration.

Having a squat that goes deep without losing back position is fundamental to hip and spine health.
No part of the system is having to compensate for another part.
If you can squat like this then chances are you don’t suffer from back pain. 🙂

squat

gluteal stretch

shinbox stretch

hip flexor stretch

pretzel stretch

hamstring stretch

plank hold

Here’s a squatting drill (do this freestanding or holding a post):

  • Go to the bottom of the squat
  • Hold it there
  • Hang out as long as you can (up to 10 mins)

If you can stay there for 10 minutes, you probably don’t have back problems (anymore!)
If you can’t stay there (muscles of the legs or back start hurting too much), then do this every other day – building up to 10 minutes.
We aren’t looking for excruciating. Aim for improvement over time.

Now stretching. Hold each for at least 30 seconds. Let’s have a look!

Gluteal Stretch

Tight, weak ‘glutes’ are a common factor in sore lower backs.
Turns out, muscles ‘go to sleep’ when you sit on them 8+ hours a day!

Get into this ‘figure 4’ position and pull your knee towards you.
Play with the knee position until you feel it in the meat of the muscle.

Alternative Gluteal Stretch

For those that ‘don’t feel’ the other one, this is an alternative that works for many.
Get the foot of one leg to touch the knee of the other leg.
Stay ‘tall’ and hinge at the hips to apply the stretch. Don’t bend your back.

Hip Flexor Stretch

Chronic sitting leads to short hip flexors.
This set of muscles attaches to the back of your pelvis.

  • Get into a long lunge position
  • ‘Tuck’ your tail bone under to get into the front of the hip of your rear leg.
  • Let your hips ‘sink’ forward as you relax and breathe into this stretch

Pretzel Stretch

A great multitasking stretch.
This combines gentle lumbar twist, hip flexor, quad, pec and some thoracic mobility too.

  • Lie on one side and grab your ‘bottom’ leg at the back (like a quad stretch)
  • Bring your ‘top’ leg up to 90 degrees.
  • Aim towards getting both your top knee and opposite shoulder to the floor. Enjoy!

Hamstring Stretch

Another important link in the ‘posterior chain’.

  • Keep the stretching leg straight, or slightly bent
  • Don’t pull your toes back – that’s a nerve stretch
  • Your other leg can be bent or straight
  • This can also be done standing, but keep your back straight

The Plank

  • Use your posterior chain to keep your whole body in a straight line.
  • Great for developing global core strength and endurance.
  • Can be scaled back by putting your knees on the floor.

Check out these links for more ways you can move better, hurt less and look after yourself.

For more information on more serious issues and back pain treatment for them, read this article from Gordon Physio.

Injury treatment: When to ice and when to heat

Injury treatment: Ice or Heat?

Thank you to Chirotherapy for this special guest post.

When to use Ice

injury_treatment_ice
Use ice if it’s within 5 minutes of the injury occurring. It should be used up to 48 hours after the injury.

If you can recall a mechanism for injury, use ice.
Tip: keep an icepack or frozen bag of peas in the freezer in case of an emergency. You could also use ice in a plastic bag.

  1. Wrap cold source in a tea towel or similar. Place this directly on to the skin above the injured area. Make sure clothing is removed from the affected area.
  2. With injuries that have just occurred, compress and elevate the area where possible.
  3. Leave on for 15-25 minutes depending on the area. Leave on for a longer time for deeper or bigger areas like the hips or lower back and less for more shallow areas like the neck and fingers.
  4. Remove and rest from the ice for as long as you applied it.
  5. Repeat until you have repeated the cycle 4 times.
  6. Use 2-3 times a day for up to 48 hours after the original injury.

When to use Heat

injury_treatment_heat
Heat is a very soothing therapy that can be used to ease tense muscles by improving circulation. Use heat when the issue has been around for more than 48 hours.
Do not use heat if there are altered sensations, pain, numbness or pins and needles running down the legs or arms.

  1. Heat wheat pack or similar item according to instructions.
  2. Wrap heat source in tea towel or similar or by itself over clothing.
  3. Leave on for 20 minutes.
  4. Further repeats are not necessary.

NB: Do not use heat or cold therapy if you cannot feel the difference between hot and cold, like in the case of nerve damage.

In the case of torticollis or “wry neck”, you can alternate between heat and cold as per the ice protocol except swap between the ice and heat sources.

If in doubt, use ice.

USING ICE AND HEAT CAN BURN YOU SO BE SURE TO REMOVE THE ICE/HEAT BEFORE ANY DAMAGE OCCURS.

Thanks again to Chirotherapy for this special guest post.

9 ways bands can help you stretch

Have you ever used bands to stretch?

Aside from providing elastic resistance in workouts, bands are also a great tool for stretching. Improve your flexibility by using this guide for a 9 stretch sequence you can do with just one little band.

See also this video and these drills.

Give these a try and post your thoughts and experience to comments.

Upper Back Stretch
Upper Back

  • Keep weight on your legs – don’t rely on the band
  • Your arms stay as close to your head as possible
  • Try to get your bicep behind your ear
  • Relax and breathe into the stretch
  • Go to discomfort rather than pain
  • Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute

Lat Stretch
Lats

  • Keep weight on your legs – don’t rely on the band
  • Your arms stay as close to your head as possible
  • Try to get your bicep behind your ear
  • Try to lengthen the whole way from shoulder to hip
  • Relax and breathe into the stretch
  • Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute

Chest Stretch
Chest / Shoulder / Obliques

  • Keep weight on your legs – don’t rely on the band
  • Your arm stays above shoulder height
  • Try to open your chest as much as possible
  • Try to open from shoulder to opposite hip
  • Relax and breathe into the stretch
  • Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute

Hamstring Stretch
Hamstrings

2 options:

  • Leg straight and toes pointed or
  • Leg slightly bent and toes back
  • Keep both hips on the floor
  • Band around upper back; Relax and breathe
  • Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute

Adductor Stretch
Adductors

  • Same setup as the hamstrings stretch
  • Keep both hips on the floor
  • Open hips / take foot out to the floor
  • Band around upper back; Relax and breathe
  • Go to discomfort rather than pain
  • Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute

Internal Rotator Stretch
Internal Rotators

  • Same initial setup as the hamstrings stretch
  • Put both feet into the band
  • Move your knees to outside the band (the band will run to the inner knee/thigh area
  • Move elbows/forearms to inside the band
  • Put your feet on the floor and add pressure with elbows
  • Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute

Hip Stretch
Hips

  • Get into squat position with feet on the wall
  • Keep both hips on the floor
  • Run the band under you – at pelvis level
  • Loop the band over each knee
  • Let femurs draw to hips; Relax and breathe
  • Hold for 1 to 2 minutes

Hips and Shoulders Stretch
Hips and Shoulders (Less Intense)

  • Same initial setup as the hips stretch
  • Continue to keep both hips on the floor
  • Take broom handle “overhead” with hands wide
  • Keep neutral spine
  • Relax and breathe
  • Hold for 1 minute

Hip and Shoulder Stretch
Hips and Shoulders (More Intense)

  • Same initial setup as the hips stretch
  • Continue to keep both hips on the floor
  • Take broom handle “overhead” with hands narrow
  • Keep neutral spine (no raised or puffed chest)
  • Relax and breathe; allow shoulder to ‘sink’ open
  • Hold for 1 minute

As at the top: see also this video and these drills.

Quad, Hamstring and Lower Back Mobility Video

Mobility Wod Quote

Here’s the inimitable Kelly Starrett of Mobility WOD delivering a great lesson on how to improve mobility to hips and spine and flexibility to quad, hamstring and lower back.

Also check out an earlier post on thoracic spine and hip mobilization.

Check it out – and do it!

Also have a look at Kelly Starrett’s book, Becoming a Supple Leopard, for more great mobilization tips.

Tennis Elbow: Cause and Treatment

Tennis elbow is a type of tendinitis, with it’s name coming from the sport commonly associated with causing it.
In this condition there is inflammation of the tendon of the forearm muscles that extend (pull back) the wrist.
Many activities that involve repetitive gripping can aggravate the tendon structure.

Typically people have: pain over the outside of the elbow, inflammation on the outer tip of the elbow and extreme tenderness over the inflamed area.

People with a tennis elbow injury often find it difficult to pick up objects (especially heavy items) and grip or hold objects for an extended period.

20130416-095532.jpg

Movement is Life

Whether in sickness or health, you are committed to your body. You only get one. Time and time again, research suggests movement is the cheapest and most effective cure and prevention for musculoskeletal disease.

Musculoskeletal disorders are the leading cause of global disability, second only to psychiatric disorders. We go to extreme efforts to look after our possessions. Yet, collectively, we completely ignore our most valuable asset and resource – the body.

So get moving, and help share the message!

More info from the makers of the video at http://candmedic.wordpress.com/