More often-than-not, back pain is the result of muscle spasm following a back injury. Muscle spasm is the body’s way of protecting the injury. However, when the injury subsides often the muscle spasm will endure, sometimes for years, giving rise to symptoms of a ‘bad back’.
The reasons for this continuation of protective muscular spasming can be complex and manifold but can be summarised in simplistic terms to be as the result of living in a modern society in which our survival is not dependent upon being physically fit and well. In fact most of our modern-day life-style actually promotes and perpetuates the symptoms of back pain. These are:
Lack of flexibility
Poor range of motion
Depleted muscle-tone, or muscles being used in the wrong way
A daily practice that reinforces the issues that create bad back symptoms
Happily there is a solution!
We need to increase flexibility and strength in the back as a bye-product of working on other muscle groups. This approach works where others fail because attempting to target the problem area will simply result in more spasming. By focusing on exercises that only target the back as an assisting or synergist we greatly increase the chances of being able to regularly repeat exercise and effect the desired change to the physiology. Whatever the symptoms of back pain the following will work to improve or cure the problem:
In order to break the cycle of spasm and pain we need to start using our muscles in a different way ALL OF THE TIME. This means we need to change our posture so that the muscles are being used in the way that they were designed, not under excess forces caused by poor posture and poor muscular alignment. If you have a bad back, you almost certainly will have poor posture. Every case is slightly different but generally I correct poor posture in the following ways:
Alexander technique - used to re-align the body back to it’s natural state and to make you aware of the ways in which you use your body in every day life
T’ai Chi Qigong - I use elements of Qigong to correct, strengthen and stabilise posture
Pilates - again, depending upon the individual, certain Pilates exercises can be useful to strengthen and stabilise posture
FLEXIBILITY AND RANGE OF MOTION
Inevitably people who suffer with back pain will have become inactive and will be typically inflexible and have a poor range of motion. The back (and our bodies in general) is designed to be in constant motion and to be flexible and strong. Therefore, given that most people’s life-style actually ENABLES the back pain to persist, we need a daily practice that improves and solidifies flexibility and strength. The following approach works to achieve permanent flexibility and strength which alleviates the cause of back pain:
T’ai Chi Qigong - ancient Qigong plants us into the earth allowing our chi energy to radiate around the spiralling meridians of the body, healing, strengthening and developing deep lasting flexibility and power. Qigong can become a life-long friend that can be practiced daily anywhere and will, over time, cure the symptoms of back pain. BUT you must practice regularly.
Pilates - some elements of Pilates can be very helpful once the body has been made stronger and more supple by the daily practice of Qigong.
Meditation - with Qigong comes mediation. The two are intrinsically and inextricably linked and practitioners find great strength and flexibility of mind and spirit as well as body with daily practice.
The entire process of T’ai Chi Qigong, selected Pilates exercises and meditation is like an incredible gift you give to yourself: freeing you of pain, strengthening your body and finding an inner tranquility that resonates to your mind…as well as healing your back!