Updated: Mar 26, 2022
Hands up if you’ve EVER felt pain in your back, like EVER in your life. I bet some of you could put up both hands :)
The most common, but not only problem of Low Back Pain is Sciatica. This is when Sciatic nerve gets caught somewhere along its route. Sensation of pulling in your lower back or under your buttocks appears, and if the pressure along the spinal route is bigger you can even feel numbness in the form of thorns going up & down your leg or to any of your toes. Sensations of pinching or burning can also appear.
HOW DOES THIS OCCUR?
There are two possibilities, first one is single stress event (ex. car crash, fall) where one time trauma hurts you. The second one is cumulative trauma. That means that you were doing repeatedly movements that did not follow correct kind of postures and/or movement patterns. The posture that would protect your spinal structures. Over time you kept moving in the same patterns, same “non functional” way, so the stress accumulated, the tissue yield, and you ended up with disc protrusion, extrusion, bulge etc. Bottom line some condition that is now painful.
In another words your movement patterns were not functional and now you cannot function.
What happens next you might ask. If you do not address this problem at an early stage, it gets bigger (no surprise). The bulge can get bigger and compress nerve root even more. The disc between vertebrae can flatten so much that the back joints between vertebraes of the spine (facet joints) collide and keep on colliding, so another degenerative cascade starts to develop. The bone spurs occur and compress the nerve root even more. Next thing that can occur is the vertebrae cracks and then it slips forward (spondylolisthesis).
AND ALL THIS FROM BAD POSTURE?
bad posture + bad posture + bad posture………..
Yes, bad posture again and again and again (apart from single trauma events). Bad posture while standing, bad posture while sitting, walking, bending, twisting, but in my opinion the worst you can do to your spine are loaded bad postures and movements. Examples being: carrying stuff in your hands, picking up a freight (your child, shopping bag), putting down heavy cargo or doing exercises in loaded non functional postures without proper supervision (exercising solo in gym setting without supervision, group classes with too many people in them or an unskilled instructor).
WHAT CAN I DO?
Million dollar question :)
I can tell you what I did. Functional Pilates. (More about my story here)
Functional Pilates exercises are modified so that they are safe and in most cases of mild to moderate Low Back problems work very well.
Through exercises we can retrain your movement patterns, so that over time you have pain free movement and normal function of your body again.
In Functional Pilates we pay particular attention to postural muscles. Those are muscles that keep you upright, standing nice and tall, against the gravity, in a position that does not put additional stress to your joints, ligaments, bones or muscles. For that to happen we want to train muscle endurance and then build strength upon that base.
IN THE END ...
Have awareness and know your body's limits. Then respect them, in everyday life and especially in exercise classes.
And become aware that not every group class and every trainer is for you and your spine condition. You might need private classes before diving into group sessions. And it is ok as long as you see the worth of these classes to your health.
Here is a movie that shows you what I am taking about from youtube.com
* Disclaimer: if you have Low Back problems and pain and/or not sure if you should participate, ALWAYS consult with your GP or other medical professional before taking Functional Pilates classes
** Easy to moderate cases can get the most benefits out of these exercises
*** Chronic cases of Low Back problems might need medical help and intervention
****Pilates by Vedrana is a post-rehab tool for low back management