When it comes to Americans suffering from back pain, the statistics are frightening.
In 2005 Americans spent $85.9 billion looking for relief from back and neck pain through surgery, doctor’s visits, X-rays, MRI scans and medications, up from $52.1 billion in 1997, according to a study in the Feb. 13 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).
There seems to be an over abundance of treatment options (surgery, cortisone injections, physical therapy, etc.) but there’s no evidence that people are getting more pain relief. Of course there are success stories of people having reduced pain and being less dependent on pills but an overwhelming number of people are chronic back pain sufferers.
Now there can be numerous factors that cause back pain such as poor posture, muscle imbalances, previous trauma, aging or even our genetic background. Understanding that you have to do the best you can with what your life throws at you each day, there is some light at the end of the tunnel to gain some immediate relief.
Strength training using a MedX Lumbar Strength Machine will help isolate the lumbar spine muscles safely by its’ effective pelvic restraint system (which keeps gluteus and hamstring muscles from interfering with the targeted lumbar region). This technology allows for intensive strengthening of the multifidus, longissimus thoracis, iliocostalis lumborum, intertransversarii, interspinales, etc.
In addition to strengthening lumbar muscles, there is ample evidence that by strengthening one’s core musculature helps restore the length tension relationships that exist between opposing muscle groups. A great core exercise to consider is a front plank.
Make sure that your elbows are on a comfortable surface such as a yoga mat, pillow or rug. Keep breathing and try for 20 seconds and do 3 sets. Your goal will eventually be hold for 2 minutes but you have to work your way up. You can get away with planking 3x per week but remembering to do it can be a problem. How about around the same time you brush your teeth at night? Like anything else, you will have to try and eliminate bad habits (poor posture, extended periods of sitting, etc.) and develop positive habits such as planking, foam rolling and strength training.
Foam rolling a.k.a. “myofascial release” will help un-do tight muscles and essentially massage them. This is vital to helping restore the proper length tension relationships that exist between our opposing muscle groups. The foam roller not only stretches muscles but it also breaks down soft tissue adhesions and scar tissue. By using your own body weight you can break up trigger points, soothe tight fascia (soft connective tissue below the skin) while increasing blood flow and circulation to the soft tissues.
Foam rolling will be painful in the beginning and should dissipate as you continue. You can use the foam roller on pretty much any area of your body (try and be creative) and again try and do this at night as a wind down to going to bed routine. I have developed the habit of doing this right before I go to bed while I’m talking to my wife and watching T.V. (sometimes using the ipad). The only problem I’ve created for myself with the foam roller is that my wife isn’t too thrilled about it being in our bedroom. So good luck with that!