Lower Back Pain - This is by far the most debilitating condition for the average adult. Just bad enough to ruin your day, but also not easy to diagnose. What do you do when you're having a bad day?
See a Chiro?
Go for Massage?
... or just some painkillers?
There are a multitude of short-term fixes for lower back pain. Unfortunately that's all they are: short-term fixes. If you want life-long relief, you need to look further than the symptoms and find the underlying source of the pain.
This is where Australian-Certified APPI Clinical Pilates comes in. Drawing from a long scientific background, Clinical Pilates gives you a methodology that keeps you mobile and happy long into your life. Most importantly, it will allow you to get out of bed in the morning, well-rested, and ready to take on the day.
Clinical Pilates was originally invented during world war 2 to rehabilitate bed-ridden soldiers. Taken up by the world's most esteemed Physiotherapy industries, it has grown over the past 70 years into a Scientifically-proven method. At its core, it is a set of exercises that focus on posture, balance, core stability, strength, and flexibility. It is suitable for Men and Women, and Pilates students range for 5 years old to 105 years old!
So what are some of the most common causes of the dreaded backache? And how do we really treat it?
#1 - Desk Jobs
It should come as no surprise that the human body did not evolve to be very good at sitting in front a computer. Our DNA is built to run, jump, crawl, swim, and so much more. Unfortunately, when we sit at a desk all day, we start to weaken our underlying muscles structures. Examples of muscles that suffer are:
Our transversus abdominus (a deep hidden abdominal group - not your six pack!)
Multifidus (spine supporters)
Gluteals (we've all heard of the big "Gluteus Maximus", but there are also the medius and minimus. The small ones contribute much more to back stability.)
When these muscles weaken, our spine starts to pull out of alignment. This is exacerbated when our big primary muscles start to overcompensate. What you end up with is focus sore spots in your lower back - usually along the spine at either the lower or the upper portion. This increased mobility in one portion is often matched by a lack of mobility everywhere else - putting all of the strain on a very small section of your back.
When we fix these underlying weaknesses, (as well as train better sitting posture), the underlying cause can be removed.
To treat the common 'office worker's lower back', we need to focus on re-strengthening the core stabilizers, and lengthening the over-developed 'power muscles'. This will take the stress off the back.
Using Clinical Pilates, this involves a clear methodology:
First provide strength to the 'supporters' through targeted exercises.
Then provide mobility to stiff sections of the spine. This allows the spine to take the load away from the sore areas.
Focus on lengthening 'power muscles' that are pulling the back out of alignment.
All culminating in removing lower back pain.
If this sounds like you and you're in Kuala Lumpur, you may want to seek advice from Australian-Accredited Head Physiotherapist, Natalie.
Whatsapp 011 1283 4643
#2 - Lack of Physical Activity & Weight
Heavily linked to #1 above, a lack of physical activity or an excess amount of weight can start the slow slope towards weakening your supporting muscles.
If you want to truly fix lower back pain for the long term, a few sessions a week of light exercise is a great way to get back on track.
If one or two of these sessions is Clinical Pilates exercises, then you'll be back on track even sooner. If the cause is just general lack of physical activity, then after a few sessions, you might be well suited to try Group Fitness Pilates Instead.
#3 - Old Accidents and Injuries
If you've sustained injuries in the past, it's quite possible that you never truly recovered. We're not just talking about lower back injuries here: a knee injury, or even hand injury could equally start the body favoring one side, and start the slow spiral to muscle imbalance and weakness.
These cases are much more tricky to assess, as the signs are often much more subtle than someone who is obviously weakened or has poor posture. A properly trained physiotherapist has a number of tests that allow for assessment, and from there, it is a process of re-balancing muscle groups and removing tension on overactive muscles.
In time, most lower back pain clients in this category can receive significant relief and reduce their need for painkillers.
#4 - Poor Flexibility
Are you having trouble tying your shoes? Is picking up something from the floor a task to be dreaded? How about sitting on the floor with your legs straight?
A common cause of the lower back ache can actually be found in the muscles just below - the Gluteals and Hamstrings (aka the 'bum muscles'). If these muscles are particularly tight, your body can search for the extra flex somewhere else - (you guessed it: in your lower back). As a result, instead of your Hamstrings and Gluteals elongating to allow for proper movement, your lower spine curves and goes under significant stress. As your lower back is designed to only curve towards the belly button, curving in the opposite direction caused debilitating pain over time.
In time, this compensation becomes dependence, and the hamstrings no longer have the ability to do their original job without the lower back stepping in. This is particularly common among people who lift heavy weights and avoid flexibility classes. We call these people 'Vikings', and they are represented in our logo by the Gorilla.
Relief can often be found through a mix of:
Micro-fascial releases (deep tissue massage that focuses on breaking down the muscle's outer sack to improve flexibility and mobility).
Dynamic Pilates Stretching
Strengthening of the supporting muscles (the small ones that gym weights do not address).
In this instance, getting a massage or Chiro just won't treat the underlying causes. To get true, long-term relief, the injury needs to be fixed once-and-for-all.
#5 - Post-Natal Injury
Another very common cause of backaches (but only for women) is from post-natal stress of injury. Delivering a baby does significant damage to a woman's body, including the separating of their abdominal muscles, groin and leg strains, and 9 months of muscle-relaxing hormones.
The result is that your back may often weaken significantly after delivering a baby, and does not always fully recover on its own (this is especially true for women who have diastasis - abdominal separation). Special care needs to be taken in these cases, as the wrong workout can exacerbate the problems.
Clinical Pilates has a special set of exercises for dealing with these particular issues, and target the 'deep muscles' that sit below the large primary movers (such as the 'six pack'). Most patients find Clinical Pilates to be particularly successful in the long term.
#6 - All of the Above!
You are unique, and your circumstances are most likely a combination of the above, and maybe the myriad of other possibilities that we don't have the space to write about.
As Australian-trained Physiotherapists and Clinical Pilates Specialists, we are your trusted professional for assessing, planning, and achieving your personal goals. Please: don't just read about it, come in and see us in Bangsar.
Natalie Tan - Body in Common
Bachelor of Physiotherapy - University of Melbourne
APPI-Certified Pilates Instructor - Matwork
APPI-Certified Pilates Instructor - Machine