Most people have had some experience with low back pain or tension in their life time. This might present itself as chronic muscle stiffness or tension, or aches and pains associated with a specific structural injury. Often, a few specific muscles can be identified as the source of pain. As a massage therapist, I find that every case of low back pain I see in my clients is unique. My job is to work with each client to identify the exact source of their pain and to strategize ways to support the body and minimize pain.
As a massage therapist, I am often treating trigger points found within the surrounding muscle or fascia, which is the connective tissue found within and surrounding the muscle fibers. When these fibers become adhered and stuck, they loose elasticity, compromising the muscle tissue. This is what we refer to as a trigger point. Often trigger point pain refers to areas, removed from the actual source of the pain. Trigger points can also present themselves as numbness, weakness, tingling and decreased range of motion.
There are various steps you can take on your own to minimize your low back tension. Generally, ice can be helpful to decrease swelling and inflammation and heat can help decrease chronic tension, loosening muscle and facial tissue. Using pillows between your knees if you are a side sleeper or under your knees if you sleep on your back can help minimize discomfort. Postural shifts and core strengthening can often help alleviate low back pain in the long term.
Often tight, shortened low back and glut muscles contribute to low back tension. The following stretches assist in treating and preventing low back tension.
1) Seated Glut Stretch:
This stretch is great because you can do it from your office chair.
•Sit tall on the edge of your chair, and place your ankle on your knee.
•Place some resistance with your hand onto your knee.
•If this feels like enough of a stretch, breath here. Otherwise, with a straight spine, begin to hinge forward at the waist.
•Breathe 3-4 deep breaths and switch sides.
2) Spinal Twist Glut Stretch:
•Lay flat on your back & bring one knee into your chest and then bring that straight leg across your body, with your arms out to the sides and palms facing up.
•Make sure your head and shoulders remain flat on the ground.
3) Supported Child's Pose:
This stretch is a restorative stretch that can be held 5-10 minutes if experiencing low back pain or discomfort.
•Kneel on your knees with knees very wide apart.
•Place 1-2 pillows between your heels and bottom.
•Relaxing arms in front of you, hinge forward so that your forhead rests on the ground or on a cushion. Breathe.
For a more indepth understanding of low back disfunction and self-care for a healthy low back, you can join me in my 'Living with a Pain-free Back' workshop on Wednesday, May 6th from 6:00pm-7:30pm. This class will be both informative and hands-on. We will be addressing posture shifts with sitting, standing, walking and laying to alleviate back pain. We will be exploring various stretches, strengthening exercises and other home care techniques to help eliminate back pain. Register early for this workshop to ensure a spot, as it has a limited class size. I look forward to helping our community live healthier and pain free!
To register for the workhsop ($12 per person), or to make a massage appointment with Holly, call Community Acupuncture + Natural Health at 541-301-7040. View more information at our website www.affordablenaturalhealth.com.