“No pills, no injections, no surgery”
No one is immune to the orthopedic consequences of COVID-19. We are all home logging more couch hours then we typically do. However, the silver lining is that many of us are going out for a walk/run on a more regular basis. I guess we have to do something besides binge our favorite TV show and pretend to work from home.
The caveat with the lifestyle we are currently partaking in is that long periods of sitting combined with periods of movement is a recipe for orthopedic mayhem. When we sit our bodies compress like an accordion. We lose mobility in our hips, ankles, and mid-back while simultaneously shutting down the muscles in our “core”.
Although this does seem like a small price to pay to watch what Exoctic Joe will do to Carole Baskin, it can lead to problems. The most common one being lower back pain.
Your body is a machine where separate parts come together, to create an interconnected system. This system allows for motion, motion allows for life. These separate parts are all designed to serve a specific purpose. When certain parts break down, motion does not stop, the body compensates. Compensation is a fancy way of saying one part is taking on the role of another part, even though it is not designed to do so.
This is what happens when we sit, the aforementioned joints and muscles lose their function and the lower back takes over. This is okay in the short term but is not sustainable for the long term. When you get that dull ache or tightness it has nothing to with your lower back. The lower back is the victim and the other joints are the criminals.
Okay, so what do we do to solve it? Let’s review three simple and practical steps.
- Sit in the optimal alignment. What’s that mean? Let’s review from the ground up.
- We want our joints to be stacked. Just like the game “ Jenga” it starts with a strong foundation. You want your feet pointed straight ahead stacked directly underneath your knees.
- Next you want your knees to be in line with your hips. The most common compensation here is to have the feet crossed and the knees out. All that indicates is that your hips are tight. If you feel you cannot accomplish this position, put a cushion of some sort under your butt. This will be less of a mobility demand on the hips, in turn leading to less stress on the spine.
- Now you want to look at how your ribs are positioned over your pelvis. The objective is to have the ribs directly over your spine. If someone was looking at you from the side they should see a straight line from your shoulders down to the outside of the hips. One of the biggest compensations I see is people trying to “sit tall” and then puffing their chest out, creating a rib flare. The principle is correct, however, the execution is not. When the ribs flare out we have the appearance of proper posture however, we are really just overarching the lower back, leading to breakdown over time.
- Moving to the head/neck position, you should not look like your someone trying to poke their head through a window. You want to act as though someone is about to hit you in the face with a pie. This will create a chin tuck, a chin tuck then allows for a long neutral spine.
- Lastly, you do not want your elbow to be flared out the sides like you are doing the chicken dance. Your elbows should be tight to the body which will allow the muscles of the back of the shoulders and mid-back to engage, preventing you from rounding.
- Place a pillow behind your MID-BACK while sitting. What specifically is the mid-back? Let’s break it down.
- The middle of the spine, anatomically called the thoracic spine is the region between the neck and the lower back. More simply put, it begins at the top of the shoulder blades and runs down to the point of the lower spine where an arch begins. This is arguably the most important part of the spine due to the fact it should have the most mobility.
- When we sit for long periods of time the mid-back becomes rounded and stiff. This can lead to neck, shoulder, and lower back pain. The pillow will help create a fulcrum point at the mid-back. In turn, this will drive mid-back extension which results in enhanced posture. This is the proper “tall” posture we want, not the tall that comes from overarching your lower back.
- Engage your core when you walk or sit. “How do I do that Nick, more crunches?” No, please stop doing crunches. You can facilitate core engagement by doing the following.
- When you are sitting or walking, pretend like someone is about to punch you in the gut. This mechanism will allow for deep abdominal bracing. These muscles sit close to the spine which allows them to have the capacity to stabilize in the spine. In other words, keep it where it needs to be so it doesn’t hurt.
- Another simple and effective way is to put your back against the wall, bend your knees to about a 30 degree angle (think ¼ squat) and roll your lower back flat against the wall. Hold that position for 5 seconds, take a 2 second break and then perform again. Four sets of 8 reps of a 5 second hold will suffice. Performing this movement pre and post walk or run will also help mitigate any lower back stress.
- It is important to note that with both of these techniques you DO NOT want to hold your breath. Holding your breath may feel like you are bracing your abs but it is not. If you breathe out as you perform both of these techniques , you will further facilitate core engagement. Moreover this will prevent you from holding your breath.
These techniques are certainly not an end all be all however that can help flatten the lower back pain cure. Moreover, these techniques are analogous to brushing your teeth, something you do preventively to mitigate stress on your body.
For more information about how to address the root cause of your joint pain WITHOUT the dangers of pills, injections, and surgery download our free e-book “LIFE WITHOUT LIMITATIONS”, only 20 copies available for download!