Photo: woods wheatcroft photography

You Want a Better Back—Change Your Structure

English: Anteroposterior abdominal radiograph ...

Last week we addressed what is behind chronic back pain. Treating the symptom area is only treating the tip of the iceberg. With all the chronic back patients I see, the last place that gets tight is the back muscles. When they do, they get very tight, countering the tightness in the abdomen, pelvis and legs. To heal the issue so it doesn’t return, you need to release and realign these other body sections. You wouldn’t keep patching a crack in a wall and expect it to last when the foundation isn’t level.

I explain to people that their fascia (connective tissue) is like a leather suit that shrunk, compressing and distorting their entire body. The part that can compress and torque the most is our low back. Our spinal discs are like jelly donuts filing the space between vertebra allowing us to bend and twist. Over time we can lose some of that space (and lose height) from stress, exercise, misalignment, and injuries. Then, for many of us, one day a simple movement causes a severe spasm and pain.

When clients’ soft tissue releases, circulation increases to the fascia and that dried leather suit becomes supple and elastic again. The reversal of the constriction and dehydration of their tissue allows the patients to move more freely and without fear of a spasm. The new movement even further releases and hydrates the restricted areas. Throughout their series of sessions, clients unlearn limiting habits, and re-learn how to breathe and use gravity when walking. Sounds simple, but those two basic behaviors are things we all screw up. Even the former Olympic marathon runners I Rolfed weren’t near their optimum level.

Holding your breath allows stress to build up in your body. It also causes your chest, and thereby your upper back, to become tight. Most people walk by leaning back slightly because we’ve been told it is good posture. But walking with your center of gravity behind you causes jarring with each step which sets you up for injuries in your feet, legs, and back. Learning to lean forward working with gravit, helps loosen and lengthen the body.

No one’s body will ever be symmetrical and even a-high functioning body is not perfect. But a healthy body has a soft tissue system that is truly soft, not hardened. What’s more, a healthy body is aligned and moves in a way that doesn’t add micro-traumas to the body.

Of course, you can’t always prevent a major injury but you can prevent the cumulative effect of chronic physical and emotional stress building up and compressing your back. You can even reverse it.

Don’t wait. At the first sign of ongoing back issues, go get help to address the underlying causes. You will save yourself a lot of pain and expense. You and your back are worth the investment.

Next week we discuss specific solutions to heal and prevent back pain.

Owen Marcus, MA Certified Advanced Rolfer, www.align.org – call if you have questions: 265.8440.

Photo: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Fif.jpg

 

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