Man Suffering from Back Pain
Image courtesy of graur razvan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

This is an old post – for a more up to date article on back pain/chronic pain please check out this post here.

In Part I of this series we looked at how modern lifestyle factors such as prolonged sitting and wearing shoes can lead to back pain.

While avoiding becoming desk bound, and going barefoot/wearing minimalist footwear are probably the most important steps you can take to avoid/help cure back pain, there are a few other pro-active measures you can take in order to help speed the process of recovery and bullet proof your back.

Understanding joint function:

Different joints have different functions.  Some joints are intended to be very mobile, others are designed for stability.  Your joints tend to be arranged in an alternating fashion, mobile/stable/mobile etc.

Starting from the ground up, the ankle should be mobile, knee stable, hip mobile, lumbar spine stable, thoracic spine mobile, scapula stable, gleno-humeral joint mobile, elbow stable, wrist mobile.

Prolonged sitting and wearing unsuitable shoes causes the ankle, hip and thoracic spine to become tight and lose range of motion.  This loss of movement in what are supposed to be mobile joints, can result in compensation from the stable joints, typically manifesting in dysfunction and pain.

When it comes to tackling lower back pain, rather than focusing on exercises that work the lower back directly, a more broad reaching approach is needed.  Instead of trying to make what are supposed to be relatively weak postural muscles stronger, it is better to restore proper function to the ankle, hip and thoracic spine, thus reducing the demand in the low back.

The first step to restoring lost function at these joints is to increase their range of motion.

In order to do this, I would recommend two main approaches:

1) Employ some soft tissue work:

Specifically some Myofacial Release, either performed by a masseur, and or by performing self-myofacial release using a ball and a roller.

Check out this video on the benefits of SMR, and our recommended roller series:

2) Perform the following mobility drills on a daily basis:

Ankle Mobility Drills:

Hip Mobility Drills:

Thoracic Mobility Drills:

That’s it for now.  Stay tuned for the final instalment next month!

Thanks for reading, I hope you found this post of interest. I would love to hear your thoughts and comments below, or feel free to tweet me at @Simon_Whyatt

5 comments

  1. Hi Si,

    The new article is spot on the money! I have been trying to get the Physios here at the hospital to think in such broad terms. really impressed that you are spreading the message.

    Best wishes

    paul

    1. Thanks Paul,

      Its also good to hear that there are physios like yourself out there who are also implementing these more multidisciplinary approaches.

      Of course I do also appreciate that if you’re working in the NHS, with large numbers of patients and little time to work with them, its not going to be easy to persuade people to stop sitting at desks and throw away their shoes!

    1. It’ll be up by the end of the month.

      Subscribe to the blog or email newsletter and you’ll get it as soon as its out.

      Glad you liked the first 2 instalments!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *