Spinal Trap

Rating: NNNNNlower back pain may be the com-mon cold of the musculoskeletal system, but that doesn't mean it's not a.


Rating: NNNNN

lower back pain may be the com-mon cold of the musculoskeletal system, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a drag. From a failed stretch in a yoga class to lifting a box of books, the world is full of ways to wrench that vulnerable place at the lower end of your spine. The pain might be coming from a stressed muscle, a ligament, joint or disc (the fluid-filled shock absorbers between the vertebrae), and symptoms can range from an ache to an agonizing, movement-stopping stab. But while the discomfort is real, there’s evidence that some back ailments can have emotional roots. One workplace study found that feeling unsupported by co-workers and lacking decision-making control both up the chance of lumbar misery.

Always watch your form when you exert yourself.

To lift safely, approach the object by bending your knees, not your waist. Hold it close to your body as you gradually straighten your legs to a standing position, and never twist — keep your feet, knees and torso oriented in the same direction.

Slouching or bending forward when you sit throws your spinal curves out of whack. It may help to put a pillow or rolled up towel at the back of your chair to support your lower back. Try to keep your thighs and pelvis at roughly a 90 degree angle to each other. It’s better if your chair keeps your knees slightly lower than your hips. Angle your computer screen so you’re looking straight ahead, not down.

Given the many possible causes of back pain, it’s no wonder treatments run the gamut. Ergonomic furniture, movement re-patterning exercises, magnet therapy, acupuncture, chiropractic adjustments and psychotherapy can all bring relief.

Finally, keep in mind that while most back pain doesn’t constitute an emergency, you may be facing something more serious if it’s combined with trauma, osteoporosis, cancer or weakening of normal reflexes and if the pain doesn’t get better. If normal bladder or bowel function stops in combination with back pain, get yourself to a hospital ASAP.

“Chronic back pain is highly related to kidney functioning. We would use herbs to build kidney essence. The worst season for people who suffer from kidney weakness is winter. Avoid excessive consumption of cold food, raw drinks and cold drinks, because your environment is cold. The idea of putting ice on the back is really a no-no in Chinese medicine. Heat will help it more — it makes the chi (energy) and blood move, whereas cold constricts and can make things worse.”

EMILY CHENG KOH, practitioner of traditional Chinese medicine

“The biggest two things for back health would be losing weight and being aerobically fit. There are studies supporting chiropractic care for uncomplicated acute back pain. It’s not going to change the course of the healing, which usually takes four to six weeks, but will help pain management. Low back pain is sometimes associated with urinary tract infections. But I don’t have any evidence that chronic low back pain is due to kidney weakness. When there’s an acute injury, applying cold is better. Past the acute stage, most people find that warmth increases the blood flow and decreases stiffness.”

GWEN JANSZ, MD, PhD, researcher in back pain management

“If in our sexual function we’re holding back, holding on, holding up or holding down and not breathing, then we’re not having the sexual pleasure we’re meant to have. That creates tension through the pelvis and affects the lower back. If you watch a baby, the pelvis goes back a little bit on the inhale and on the exhale comes forward a little bit. As we get older in this culture, we lose this. To recover it you could exaggerate your movement: when you inhale, pull your pelvis back when you exhale, let it fall forward.”

AUDREY FULLERTON, bioenergetic analyst

“Research shows that most lower back pain is caused by weak stabilizing muscles in the lower back. Sometimes traditional crunches actually create more pain because they focus on the exterior abdominal muscles.”

MOIRA STOTT-MERRITHEW, co-founder Stott Pilates

“To keep your back well, get a good deal of exercise. What you don’t use will not thrive. Make sure the general alignment of your structure is maintained, that all joints are in the position they should be. Chiropractic care, yoga, tai chi and Pilates will help with this. Finally, cultivate a positive attitude toward life.”

STAN GORCHYNSKI, chiropractor what the experts say

“Chronic back pain is highly related to kidney functioning. We would use herbs to build kidney essence. The worst season for people who suffer from kidney weakness is winter. Avoid excessive consumption of cold food, raw drinks and cold drinks, because your environment is cold. The idea of putting ice on the back is really a no-no in Chinese medicine. Heat will help it more — it makes the chi (energy) and blood move, whereas cold constricts and can make things worse.”

EMILY CHENG KOH, practitioner of traditional Chinese medicine

“The biggest two things for back health would be losing weight and being aerobically fit. There are studies supporting chiropractic care for uncomplicated acute back pain. It’s not going to change the course of the healing, which usually takes four to six weeks, but will help pain management. Low back pain is sometimes associated with urinary tract infections. But I don’t have any evidence that chronic low back pain is due to kidney weakness. When there’s an acute injury, applying cold is better. Past the acute stage, most people find that warmth increases the blood flow and decreases stiffness.”

GWEN JANSZ, MD, PhD, researcher in back pain management

If in our sexual function we’re holding back, holding on, holding up or holding down and not breathing, then we’re not having the sexual pleasure we’re meant to have. That creates tension through the pelvis and affects the lower back. If you watch a baby, the pelvis goes back a little bit on the inhale and on the exhale comes forward a little bit. As we get older in this culture, we lose this. To recover it you could exaggerate your movement: when you inhale, pull your pelvis back when you exhale, let it fall forward.”

AUDREY FULLERTON, bioenergetic analyst

Research shows that most lower back pain is caused by weak stabilizing muscles in the lower back. Sometimes traditional crunches actually create more pain because they focus on the exterior abdominal muscles.

MOIRA STOTT-MERRITHEW, co-founder Stott Pilates

“To keep your back well, get a good deal of exercise. What you don’t use will not thrive. Make sure the general alignment of your structure is maintained, that all joints are in the position they should be. Chiropractic care, yoga, tai chi and Pilates will help with this. Finally, cultivate a positive attitude toward life.”

STAN GORCHYNSKI, chiropractor

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