I use to make this mistake A LOT during the first year or two of my diagnosis. You should have seen the things I was doing to try and bring relief…it’s scary to think back on the lengths I would go to! It makes total sense though, back pain is often blamed on tight muscles so the first thing to do is stretch. The only thing wrong with this is most lower back stretching only brings short term relief and within 20 minutes the pain is normally back with vengeance.
I really don’t think she has a clue…what good will this do anyone?
Take my situation for example. I have a ruptured disc which seemed to always make my lower back feel like it was out of alignment. I was constantly popping and cracking my back before, during and after my laundry list of lower back stretches I would do just about every day. It seemed to only make things worse…but I was uneducated and young so I figured you need to push THROUGH the pain before it got better. Which is the absolute worst when it comes to beating back pain. The worst part about it all the twisting, pulling and stretching my troubled area could never truly align and stay in place. I never gave it a chance to be supported by the surrounding muscles.
“Research has shown that an increased ROM in the spine can increase the risk of future back troubles (e.g, hattie et al., Burton, Tillotson, and Troup, 1989). In fact, a study done by Solomonow and colleagues (2002) shows that the stretch reflex actually decreases and muscle spasms are more likely with individuals who stretch their lower back. Even with proof there are so many health professional who are still prescribing this treatment to back pain patients. The philosophy may be true when it comes to other joints around the body but for the back this is your last method of rehab if at all.
If you have been following this blog for any length of time you could probably pick up on the fact that core stiffness and endurance is the biggest factor when dealing with back pain. I’ll talk about stretching here and there but i’m usually talking about other areas like the hamstrings or Piriformis. I don’t think even once do I talk about any low back stretches to reduce pain. The simple reason for that is because increasing the spines range of motion simply doesn’t help at all with back pain. We blame back pain on back stiffness or feeling “tight” so we stretch…and we stretch and we stretch until things just get worse and you go back to your doctor and tell him all the work you have been doing with no success. It would always frustrate me because I would do all this stretching to the point where I was forced to take a crap ton of anti inflammatories and pain killers just to bring the pain down. Once I stopped stretching and just gave up… guess what happened? I got better. It wasn’t until I stopped doing the stretches I was doing that I finally got relief.
Shown above is what is called the Happy Baby pose. A common yoga position to stretch the groin/hip and hamstrings but if done by the wrong person can be damaging. If your dealing with any kind of back pain you want to stay away from positions similar to this! What may work for the hips may be terrible for the lower back!
So what about yoga!? Like I said before, it’s not that all stretching is bad for the back it’s just the focus on increasing the spines ROM. At the same time, even with yoga you need to have a well developed core both covering endurance and stiffness before getting into yoga. Not all yoga instructors teach the detailed importance of core awareness, how to engage the core and continue to develop progressive core endurance. The image above goes right along with my statement I made to my premium content members a few weeks ago, bringing your knees to your chest to relieve back pain is the worst. It’s a short term fix to a much larger problem. This stretch gives you a false sense of relief and all forms of this stretch should be avoided at all costs. Don’t get me wrong, yoga has its place but if your going because you think being able to do this….
is going to help relieve your back pain, think again. I don’t understand how people think this is a spine stabilizer. Maxing out the spines ROM like this does nothing for you. I am all for being limber and mobile, especially as we age but while you continue down this path of beating your back pain stick to building a rigid foundation first.
Spoiler alert: This Thursday I am going to release an article I am putting together on the WORST yoga positions for your back. Excited to get it to you!
Thanks for reading guys!