The biggest problem that modern medicine has trying to address something as commonplace as back pain is that modern medicine is built from the get-go on the scientific process that involves eliminating variables and narrowing everything down to a single traceable cause. But the human body isn’t the kind of thing you can experiment like that on. Your whole body works as a unit, and every change you make to one variable affects dozens of other variables down the line. There’s no such thing as ‘isolating a factor’ when it comes to the human body.
Take back pain, for example: is your pain a sporadic, sharp and shooting pain? That might be because you have a problem with your vertebrae and the bone is pinching a nerve — but it’s more likely that there’s a tight, inflamed muscle that’s injured and the internal swelling is squeezing that nerve. You can cure injured muscle spasms in the back with the help of a trained professional, yet you also must make sure that it has everything it needs (i.e. nutrients, posture awareness) to heal itself.
You can take a high quality, natural anti-inflammatory to help the swelling go down and stop the squeezing on the nerve and help the muscle heal. Most doctors give you a prescription for something stronger than Asprin and send you on your way, giving you exactly nothing to help that muscle get better and ensuring that the pain lasts as long as possible.
There are so many factors that go into a ‘simple’ muscle strain. You need to have a professional assess your:
- Trigger Points
- Posture and alignment
- Any potentially relevant scar tissue
And the kicker is that these affect each other, so if you learn that your posture is off, it may be causing your muscles to overwork and become strained — OR it may be that you have a muscle that’s already strained and your posture is subconsciously adjusting to accommodate the muscle. Just hiding the problem under a typical prescription pain reliever isn’t going to actually fix anything — and in fact it makes fixing the problem in the future that much more difficult.
Instead, follow this five-step system in order to ensure that the muscles in your back and neck are able to heal most effectively. Most back pain is muscular and the result of repeated strains within the back –so these steps heal most peoples’ back pain.
Step 1: Relieve the Muscles and Trigger Points
Quite often, the strain in your muscles either causes or is caused by a muscle or a set of muscles that simply does not relax. Fortunately, every muscle comes equipped with ‘trigger points’ that when released, relaxes the muscle. Even a muscle that cannot be stretched out manually is relaxed with trigger point therapy. In most cases, you need the help of an expert Neuromuscular Therapist like we have on staff, or a do-it-yourself trigger point kit to access the trigger points on your back muscles.
Step 2: Fix Your Posture
Once your muscles are done being so “angry” and allow you to stand normally, it’s time to make sure that you’re doing exactly that. Posture alignment exercises help you restore balance to your stance, which minimizes strain on your ligaments, muscles, tendons, and even your internal organs. If you sit at a desk all day, it’s crucial that you have the best chair for bad backs to keep your back and pelvis healthy.
Step 3: Restore Flexibility
There’s a significant difference between a relaxed muscle and a flexible muscle. A muscle that helps you stand and walk correctly may very well still be too short and tight to respond effectively to the demands made as you perform everyday tasks like carrying groceries in from your car. During this time, any residual inflammation can be particularly hampering; supplementing with a powerful anti-inflammatory is a great idea.
Step 4: Restore Strength
As your muscles get ‘long’ and able to stretch, it’s time for some functional strength training. You should be almost entirely pain-free by this time before you do any strength training; what we’re doing here isn’t so much solving the old problem as making sure that it doesn’t come back.
Step 5: Build Endurance
Continue your flexibility and strength exercises, but add in isometric and other endurance-building exercises. This ensures that even if an extreme demand on your muscles suddenly arises, you’re able to handle it without the pain coming back.
The key to eliminating pain and preventing re-injury is to do steps 1-5 in order. You must release your trigger points first, since they are the root cause of 80%+ of chronic muscle pain. You can’t stretch a muscle well unless the trigger points are released first. Also, when you do strength training too soon, like so often in physical therapy, you run the risk of re-injury and more pain. Get your trigger points released and then move on to the strengthening later.
If you’re not sure how to accomplish these goals, you want to consult one of our expert Neuromuscular Therapists. With their care and your own focus, you’re able to eliminate the majority of the back pain in your life.