3 WAYS TO HELP HEAL BACK PAIN NATURALLY

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Back pain, particularly in the lower back, is one of the most common physical complaints. There are a number of factors specific to the individual, however there are some common threads running through each case that can be managed with my three-part protocol.

First and foremost it is important to recognise that your pain is there for a reason and is something that will not be remedied by long-term use of painkillers or other numbing agents. It is also important to note that most back pain is caused by muscle tension and imbalance rather than spinal problems. Thus, we need to bring awareness and understanding to the postural habits as well as emotional tensions that lie beneath the physical tension and be proactive in heeding our bodies needs.

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THREE PART PROTOCOL

  1. Calming the nervous system and gently relaxing the back muscles.
  2. Resetting the tone of the back-line muscles.
  3. Switching on other muscle groups so the back feels safe and supported.

As you go about this process you want to be aware of the thoughts and feelings that arise. Perhaps nothing arises and you just feel stronger and happier as your pain disappears, but be open to the potential for ‘re-experiencing’ stored emotions.

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PART ONE: CALM THE NERVES

Calm belly breathing :

Lie on your back on the floor, ideally with your lower legs resting over a couch / chair

  • Breathe in for 4 counts. Pause for 1 count. Breathe out for 6 counts. Repeat for at least one whole minute. For more in-depth info on breathing look here.

Magnesium spray or salt options :

* If you have low blood pressure consult your Doctor before using magnesium

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PART TWO: RESET THE TONE

  • Massage feet on tennis ball
  • Stretch your calf muscles by standing on the edge of a step and dropping one of your heels off the edge. Breathe into the release for 20 seconds then swap sides.
  • Gentle butt stretches. Ensure lots of height under your head – cross one foot over the opposite knee and bring the legs in towards you. Repeat other side.

Images and explanations of all these stretches can be found here.

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PART THREE: STRENGTH SUPPORT

*It is important that you listen to your body – do not work into pain. Reduce the reps or play with the movements to suit you if they don’t feel 100% comfortable.

Abdominal activation breathing / lateral breathing

SET UP: Lie on your back, arms long beside your hips with palms down, legs bent, feet flat on the floor, place a firm pillow between your knees.

EXERCISE: Belly breath in through the nose allowing the belly to rise, breathe out through the mouth feeling the abs sinking, wrapping and lifting (t-shirt should get baggy). Lateral breath in down the back of your throat and down the spine without disturbing your ab connection, breathe out and engage your abs even deeper. Lateral breath in, breathe out sink and engage abs deeper. Lateral breath in, breathe out to the very end of your exhale really squeezing all of the air from your lungs. Big belly breath in to let it all go.

REPS: Three sets of 10 lateral breaths

CUES: The aim is to be able to keep breathing while your abs stay connected. The stamina is in being able to breathe in without losing your ab connection. Aim to feel your abs tightening with a long slow exhale (especially lower abdominals drawing upwards) without squeezing your butt, hips, shoulders or jaw.

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Pelvic tilts or lifts

SET UP: Lie on your back, arms long beside your hips with palms down, legs bent, feet flat on the floor, place a firm pillow between your knees.

EXERCISE: Take a belly breath in, on your exhale use your lower abs to pull your pubic bone forward so your lower back squashes into the floor (stay here if the next step is too uncomfortable), lateral breath in and on the exhale sink your belly, press through your feet and continue to use your abs to reel the spine vertebra by vertebra away from the floor. Hold the pelvic lift for 10 lateral breaths. Breathe out and gently massage the spine back into the floor vertebra at a time.

REPS: 3-5

CUES: Press through your feet to activate the back of your legs. Keep your front ribs heavy, breast bone down, back of the neck long/chin down. Plug and hold the legs into the sides of the pelvis by wrapping under the bottom – don’t squeeze your butt, instead work under the butt, back of the legs and lower abs.

If this exercise fees uncomfortable on your back, try lifting up into the lift without tucking the pelvis under. Just come up on one piece.

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Small hip rolls

SET UP: Lie on your back, legs bent, feet and legs together, arms long beside hips.

EXERCISE: Exhale, take the legs gently over to one side. Lateral inhale. Exhale bring legs back to centre. Lateral inhale. Exhale take the legs to the other side.

REPS: 5 to each side.

CUES: Aim to massage the back of the pelvis in and away from the floor. Keep butt muscles relaxed, use abs to support the release of the lower back.

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All fours + knees hovering a few inches off the floor

SET UP: Knees under hips, hip width apart, hands under shoulders, shoulder width apart.

EXERCISE: Lift your knees about 3-4 inches away from the floor. Stay for 5 lateral breaths. Bring both knees back to the floor at the same time.

REPS: 5

CUES: Aim to strengthen back extensors and shoulder stabilising muscles.

To help get the arm bones connecting well into the shoulder sockets and the shoulder blades well placed, bend your arms and point the elbows out to the sides then turn the arms so the elbows point in towards your body, straighten the arms.

Think of the spine being pulled out through the crown of the head and out through the tail bone.

Keep shoulder blades wide on the back of your rib cage, ie. don’t pinch shoulder blades together.

Always think of pushing the floor away from you, ie. don’t collapse the body towards the floor

Make sure head isn’t dropped – keep chin in towards the chest to lengthen the back of the neck and lift the whole head up.
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Squats

SET UP: Begin standing; legs just wider than the outside of your hips, feet slightly turned out, hands on hips.

MOVEMENT: Bend your legs to what feels like half a squat for you. Bend deeper if you can do so without your heels coming away from the floor and without your knees knocking inwards. Press through the middle of the feet and heels to come back up to standing. Exhale through the mouth to go down, breathe in at the bottom, exhale to come back up. Click here for more info on squats.

REPS: 3 sets of 5

CUES: Knees point over third toes (ie. don’t collapse the knees inwards), knees behind toes/weight in heels, spine stays straight, head neutral. Aim to really work the leg and butt muscles and use your abs and deep back muscles to keep your spine stable.

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