Why do so many of us have low back pain!?
Low back pain is one of the most common things people come to see me for and today I want to share three things that I look for whenever someone comes hobbling in through my door.
1. How Are You Breathing?
How we breathe can often determine how well we are able to stabilize and protect our spine from excessive movement. Your low back (lumbar spine) isn’t really made to have too much movement and a healthy one will flex back and forth pretty well, but rotation is not it’s forte.
When we breathe down low, we create what is known as Intra-Abdominal Pressure (IAP), we are able to effectively stabilize our spine which should occur prior to any given movement. The image I like to give people is that your lower torso should look like an unopened coke can, in other words, not only should your belly expand, but your back and sides should as well, creating what looks like a cylinder all the way around.
2. What About Your Hips?
If your hips are lacking mobility, then all the force generated by movement will go either up or down stream. In other words, if your hips don’t move well, any lower body movement will potentially be felt in your lower back. As most of our movement, especially surfing, is rotational in nature and due to the poor ability of our lower backs to rotate, over time that can often lead to stiffness, break down and pain.
3. How Well Can You Move Your Spine?
The spine consists of 7 vertebrae in your neck, 12 which attach to your ribcage, 5 lumbar and then a sacrum and tailbone. We should be able to move each of these joints independently of the other but in a large portion of the population, many of these segments are stuck and move in chunks. This often leads to areas of the spine that move too much and, in time become exposed to more wear and tear.
A simple way to see how your spine moves is with a simple cat cow, in which you try to move from one end of the spine to the other, as if a wave is moving through your body. If you put your phone on selfie mode, you can film yourself and see where you do and don’t move. The results are often quite surprising!