Back pain, have you ever had it?
Many have, funny thing is, it is rarely the same from one person to another. People experience pain and sensations differently. Also many of my clients when asked “where do you feel it,” will point all different places and still refer to it as back pain. Some point higher on their back, some lower, some on their outer hips. Either way it’s painful and you want relief.
How come back pain or any other aches and pains happen?
It’s never just your back……………..
It’s never just a back thing, a neck thing, or a shoulder thing. It’s never just a finger pointing to one spot that is the problem. It’s always a whole body problem, or a whole body SOLUTION.
Pain and tightness needs to be treated as if it is part of a whole entire system…..because it is! Our bodies function as a whole. So there’s never just tightness in one little spot. There’s always more to it.
Let’s take an example like Low Back Pain. Look at the figures below. This is just one possibility for a postural problem leading to low back pain (the dysfunctional diagram).
Let’s say I am treating a client for the first time and they complain about low back pain. When I ask, “point to where you feel it,” this person places his hands down the back in the area of the blue arrow on the “dysfunctional” diagram. Then I take a look at him standing from the front, side and back. Let’s pretend the dysfunctional picture is what I see from the side.
I will repeat that this is but ONE example or possibility for what I might see in a person’s posture. If YOU look like this from the side it does not mean you have or don’t have low back pain.
Take a look at the “overarching” in the low back. See how the arrows display how the pelvis is rotated more? How it’s tipped forward? Can you see how it’s possible that this tipped pelvis is jamming the low back and sacral area causing pain? The overarching is compressing the low back. The Myofascial tissue is being jammed and crunched as well as the vertebrae and discs.
So what is a Myofascial Therapist to do? Treat the CAUSE…… Treat the imbalance in the pelvis and anywhere else I see that is tight and pulling. This could mean anywhere up or down the body as well as directly on the symptom site.
You might be wondering how this person’s pelvis got tipped in the first place, and the answer is hard to say. It is most likely over time, repetitive activities/traumas and poor posture or even an acute accident. I commonly hear “I just bent over and my back locked up,” or some variation of that. That’s because the increasing tightness over time got to the level where it became pain. It wasn’t just that one time when you bent over that created the whole problem. That one last bend was “the straw that broke the camels back.”
Why is this person’s pelvis tipped forward? Dues to restricted myofascial tissue in the front of the thighs (Quadriceps area) and abdomen (psoas area). This tightness will pull the pelvis from the front tipping it forward. This pull can drag through the interconnected fascial system and eventually reach the low back.
Doesn’t make much sense to just treat the low back then does it?
Not to me, and not to those that have experienced Myofascial Release either. This is what John Barnes, founder of the Myofascial Release approach said “find the pain, look elsewhere for the cause.”
Over time myofascial tightness can compress, pull and effect the structures it is suppose to support- the blood vessels, nerves, joints down to a cellular level. Bones don’t decide to move on their own. They don’t have that ability. Our bones are our structure like building blocks. Myofascial tissue when tight can pull bones out of natural alignment causing pain.The tightness of the myofascial tissue is like a straightjacket of pressure.
Interesting thing is, there is no way to predict where the tightness will pull or travel. Each person is uniquely different. Each person has a different history of injuries and traumas. No one person is exactly the same and therefore the treatment can’t be a “cookie cutter” approach.
This was a simplistic example to demonstrate how treatment needs to be global not myopic. I must take a step back and look at the big picture to see where your body is tight, tender, and being pulled. I have to give each person’s body a chance to show me what is really going on by simply standing a couple feet away as my client stands natural.
This doesn’t come from a book of steps to treat low back pain. It comes from moment to moment interaction and observation of each person as an individual.
So it is NEVER just a neck thing, a shoulder thing, a back thing….it’s always a WHOLE BODY thing.