To fix back pain, you must be more childlike...
When we go through our development process from baby to young child, then to young adult and beyond, we gain a certain set of physical skills related to the movements we perform. These are the building blocks that allow us to move throughout our lives in effective ways. Whilst it is not a disaster to miss certain steps within this process, we may develop weakened motor patterns and coordination in less-used positions. While we are younger and generally keeping active due to daily play, we may not feel the effect of these differences as exercise keeps us strong relative to our size. But, what happens when we grow up?
Unfortunately, as we get older we become more dependent on chairs, beds and tables to keep us comfortable and steady and transportation modes such as buses, cars and aeroplanes to keep us moving. Therefore, we lose the inner strength related to our daily movements, and we will revert to body positions and patterns of movement that feel comfortable to us.
Does this standing pattern look familiar?
This is what we call "Sway Back" - a standing position characterised by certain body postures (flat low back, tilted pelvis, hyperextended knees). "Sway Back" generally leads to predictable injury patterns (meniscal tears, chronic headaches & Pars Defects, to name a few).
The reason that these injury patterns are predictable to practitioners is that these body postures will sneak into all of our motions.
What does the bottom picture here look like? This is another example of "Sway Back" as seen in a plank. It will normally be performed by someone that has "Sway Back" characteristics and isn't aware of the correct plank position, so the person automatically reverts to what feels "normal". The person can also drop into that position once he or she get tired as it will be the "comfortable position". Chances are that this person in sway posture will also run in this same way, climb in this same way, carry objects in this same way, and even make love in this same way. This is an issue as these daily tasks can start to become painful and affect the individual in a more pronounced way.
So, what does this have to do with being more childlike?
Children challenge themselves actively in a variety of ways, often placing forces throughout all regions of their bodies in the process. Muscles and bones become stronger when they have to react to external forces. As a result, kids physically become more resilient. This also means that they are very rarely in the same position for long or repetitive periods. It is only when they stop playing and start spending more time in classrooms, at computers and in continuous working environments, that they start to illustrate the "comfortable positions" that will place them at risk of over-patterning injuries as adults.
So, start making yourself resilient again by testing yourself physically and playing like a child. An easy test to begin with is to try and stand up from the ground without using your hands. Sounds simple, right? Well, do you have to do it by kneeling or lunging first? Is it easier getting up with one leg more than the other? Answering all of these questions will allow you to find areas where you have become weaker.
Test yourself in these challenging situations and start pushing your body again. This will create stability and mobility in a functional way without having to set aside time to exercise. Make it fun and involve your kids, significant other, or pets by piggy-backing them across the living room. By adding weight and a smile, you will remove both the mental and physical stressors that can increase pain. You will also be removing the stigma of exercise as being a structured requirement and inserting it as a new way of life.
If you would like help determining what your "comfortable" posture is and implementing more play into your daily program, connect with me at https://stackhealth.accelerware.com/bookings.cfm?fid=1857&tp=3538 . We can chat about your personal situation and determine the best way of becoming the optimal version of you!
If you are unsure if this will work for you as you haven't been able to find a long-term solution in the past, signup to our email list and receive our complementary wellness concierge service. In this, you can connect with me for free to determine if an online health solution is for you.
Yours in wellness :)
Stack Health Physiotherapist
Specialising in Physical Dysfunction