Is back pain holding you back?
By Keesha Shankle, DPT
I am a firm believer that knowledge is power, and it is essential to building confidence and empowering individuals. However, knowledge can also instil fear, and I see this in clients that I work with every day. As a healthcare professional, I want to say that I am sorry. Our language is powerful and although I believe that most of us have the best of intentions behind our words, we have perpetuated harmful language.
One region of the body that I consistently see clients associate negative language and beliefs with is the low back and sacroiliac (SI) joint. Pain in the low back/SI joint is complex. In our best effort to provide clarity to clients suffering with pain, we have misled people to believe certain “truths” about their body and their ability to heal. My goal with this blog is to help you reconsider these “truths” and move forward with a healthier, more positive language associated with the low back.
BEND FORWARD AT YOUR HIPS
It is true that with acute low back injuries it is important to protect the healing spine and decrease stress to the area. Being able to perform a hip hinge (bending at the hips, while keeping the spine flat), is a useful movement to master, but is not the only way to bend forward. It is important to practice bending forward using your spine. Your spine is capable and intended to flex forward.
This is more language commonly discussed following an acute back injury or potentially surgery. It is language rooted in truth, but oftentimes we miss the follow up with people moving through the healing process. In most cases, your spine will need to be reintroduced to rotation in order for optimal healing to occur. This is another movement that your spine is intended to do.
LIFT WITH YOUR LEGS
Using a good squat to lift something is a great strategy to reduce stress to the spine. However, it is just one of many effective strategies for lifting. Different people will find different ways to lift and that is “ok”. Certain strategies (such as lifting with your legs) are more helpful when demands increase, but should not be the only strategy in your repertoire. A variety of movement patterns will keep your body strong and healthy.
YOUR SI JOINT IS OUT OF PLACE
The low back and pelvis is a complex region of your body with a large network of soft tissues and nerves. All of these bones, soft tissues and nerves coordinate together to help you move and keep you healthy. However, this is also one of the most stressed regions of your body throughout the day and pain is very common. Due to the complexity of tissues and nerves surrounding your SI joint, when pain is felt it can often feel as though the joint is out of place. Sometimes, it may even appear that the joint is out of place via leg length testing. However, research has shown that your SI joint is one of the most stable joints in the body. In fact, it moves less than 1 degree. Pain is very real and the sensation of feeling “out of place” is a very real sensation, but the more we learn, the more we understand that it is much more complex than movement at your joint itself. There may be asymmetrical tensioning of the soft tissues, possible nerve irritation, and even emotional stressors contributing to symptoms. It is important to address all of the factors contributing to pain. It is also important to realize that in most cases, your SI joint itself is stable and safe.
Low back pain and SI joint pain can be debilitating and it can create a lot of fear in people. Pain is pain and we (humans) are always looking for ways to decrease its effect on us. Many of the above “beliefs” came about to help people get out of pain. They have been rooted in truth and spoken with the best of intentions, but are not healthy “beliefs” to hold on to throughout the lifespan. Our bodies are resilient and capable. It is time to stop living in fear and to begin to embrace a healthier belief system associated with your back and its ability to move.
If you are ready to take the next step towards movement independence and body confidence, schedule a call or an evaluation today at newseasonspt.com. I will help you better understand your symptoms and work with you to create a plan that meets your needs. My goal is always to find solutions and strategies that are personalized to you and will set you up for long term success. Follow this link for our convenient online scheduling.