A lot of people get back pain but continue to either train through it or rest until the pain lessens only to get it again when they continue with the activity they were resting from. So this blog will cover the basics of back pain, the main ways that your training might be affecting it and how to prevent pain.
Your spine is not just a stack of bones piled on top of each other. It is more of a curved tower of small bones called vertebra, where each of these is separated by the bodies equivalent of a pillow, called a disc. The discs in between the vertebra provide support and create a cushioning effect when you are loading your back. Then your vertebra is connected by little joints called Facet joints. The purpose of these is to allow you to bend and twist through movements. All of these structures are held together and supported by different tissues. These are ligaments, muscles, fascia and joint capsules.
So what actually causes back pain when people are training or doing general movements at work or at home?
The simplest answer is that pain is the result of excessive stress or strain on the structures of your back. Pain is more commonly due to an accumulation of microtrauma rather than one actual event. Three main areas that can cause a build-up of microtrauma are:
Poor movement or technique
Excessive loading of the spine during training causing an increase in compression to the spine
Poor training programming or periodisation (not enough rest)
Your body is built to resist a certain amount of force before it fails and gets injured. Athletes who can safely push themselves to the point just before the limit will find a big increase in improving strength and performance. But pushing past this limit is where pain occurs and injuries occur.
In the day when we are moving, bending, twisting and also when we go to workout the spine is most efficient when stacked in a neutral position. Microtrauma occurs when the spine moves out of this neutral spine position.
For example when deadlifting with an excessively rounded back, or having a butt wink when squatting. Also, microtrauma can occur when you load your back excessively. This microtrauma builds up and then gets to the point we mentioned previously where pain occurs.
Often the point of pain at one part during a movement for example coming out of the hole of a squat and feeling a pop in the back or if you were just brushing your teeth in the morning and you felt your back give way. It is likely down to the movements you have done previously that then mean doing a simple thing causes pain in your back. So having proper form and managing your training loads are vital to keeping your back healthy and pain-free.
So if you are suffering from pain and would like treatment for it, or would like an assessment to see where your imbalances and potential injuries may originate from contact the clinic today on 0578678904, direct message us on Facebook or book now.
Yours in Health
The Lawlor Clinic: Spine & Sport, Portlaoise, Laois
Have you been working on your mobility and flexibility but over time have not seen that much of a change? This may be because you are failing to address the route cause of the issue.
Currently, runners, cyclists, home gym-goers and more are chasing the idea of getting an increase in range of motion. This is done to either feel less stiff, perform better or just as simple as being able to touch your toes. But the techniques being implemented may not be causing any long term change or potentially your risk of injury. Doing mobility training such as stretches forcing your muscles past their normal range of motion and therefore gives us the ability to perform exercises in more unstable positions.
Following this, the tendency is to then train strength immediately after mobility training in these unstable positions. End ranges are unstable positions so the perceived threat to the integrity of the joint is very high and therefore increases the risk of injury. This is because the body is trying to protect us from that unstable position because it lacks the joint stability to be in that position in day-to-day life. So often people get trapped in the cycle of stretch-strengthen and then repeat, failing to address the root cause of the tightness in the muscles.
Put simply you need to ask yourself why muscle is tight to begin with. This will help you get rid of the mindset of simply stretching a type muscle and therefore allow you to address underpinning factor. And this is how you will make a long-term change to your flexibility.
Some examples of muscular tightness is being down to stability issues are:
Hamstring tightness could be down to core muscle weaknesses
Stiff shoulders could be because of weak rotator cuff muscles
Tight calves should be down to weak muscles at the front of the leg or hip stability issues
In the clinic, we do a full functional assessment on every new patient coming in. This allows us to find the true cause of your pain or tightness and therefore create a long term change. So, if you suffer from long term tightness or muscular pain and would like us to assess and treat you, then contact the clinic today on 0578678904, direct message us on Facebook or book now.
Yours in Health
The Lawlor Clinic: Spine & Sport, Portlaoise, Laois
Gaelic sports usually cause athletes to work their hips mainly in an externally rotated position due to the demands of the sports. This can cause a significant decrease in hip internal rotation as the body will compensate due to the increasing demand on the hips to open in one direction over the other.
Why does this matter?
This matters because having such imbalances will cause your body to create more compensatory patterns which can eventually lead to decreased performance or injury.
If you have limited hip internal rotation, then eventually the way you walk and move might be changed.
For example, you could start walking with your feet and toes pointing out more as your hips will not have the full movement to allow your foot to go back to a neutral position. The foot and ankle will then no longer be functioning in their optimal patterns and might start overpronating to allow you to keep walking undisturbed. The knee may also start picking up the slack for both the hip and ankle which could put more stress on the knees and the body as a whole. With every step, you are reinforcing these patterns which can eventually lead to pain or injuries.
So to make it simple, the most common injuries related to poor hip mobility are:
Low back pain
Hamstring and Groin strain
But this is not to say that your upper back may not be affected by this as well. It all depends on how you move. Take a squat for example, if your hip mobility is limited your body is going to find other ways to move through the position you are putting it through. We already went through the changes in the lower extremity when talking about walking. Now let’s talk about your back: if your hips can’t sit through the motion needed, your lower back might start rounding to allow you to go lower, and then your upper back might overextend to allow you to keep looking forward while squatting down.
Those are just examples, you understand by now it’s all about your own body patterns and whether your compensations are putting you more at risk for injury.
One good exercise to work on hip mobility is the 5 months hip & pelvis separation from Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilisation (DNS). This exercise helps your body work on hip and pelvic movements. Giving you more motion but also more control in those areas. It is important to work on both mobility and stability so that all increases in range of motions and overall movements still allow you proper control to avoid risk injuries.
During this exercise, make sure to keep pressure through the downward knee and foot, as well as the downward elbow throughout.
If you want more information or have any aches or pain, contact the clinic on 057-8678904 to see how we can help.