Back Pain Blues - help with reducing the 'noise'
What can cause Back Pain?
Our bodies are wonderful structures, carefully designed to allow free range of movement. We have complex sets of muscles which have specific tasks to perform.
One set of muscles help with our strength and stability, while the other set of muscles are tasked with movement and suppleness. Problems can arise when the two sets of functions - stability and movement - don’t act as they should.
How do we stay upright?
At the centre, the ‘core’ of our bodies, we have a wonderful muscular support system, stabilizing our bodies and creating a natural corset that allows us to stand, sit and move with control.
This ‘core cylinder’ is created by transversus abdominis at the front of the body, deep within the abdominal region; lumbar multifidus deep within the lower back region; and the ‘cylinder’ is supported at the base by the pelvic floor muscles and at the top by the diaphragm.
What can go wrong?
Back pain can be the result of dysfunction in this muscular support system, when some form of trauma or long-term misuse of the body ‘switches off’ these stabilizing muscles.
As the body would fall without muscular intervention, the movement muscles such as erector spinae take on the role, gradually becoming more rigid in their attempts to hold the body upright.
Why do we feel pain?
Constant pain messages are sent to the brain, trying to indicate that there is a problem. As the muscles struggle to maintain their unnatural action, these pain messages can swamp the brain.
This incessant signalling of negative information can overload the brain to such an extent that messages from other stabilizing muscles become ignored. Eventually the brain no longer ‘sees’ those muscles and they also become ‘switched off’, creating an even bigger problem.
Trauma such as an accident, or an increased natural stress on the body such as a pregnancy can contribute to this switching off. Certain long-term health conditions such as Fibromyalgia often also bring back pain.
But by far the most common issue in our modern-day society is that of long-term poor posture.
How can we change this?
Firstly, we need to help to reduce the ‘noise’ of the constant back pain signals, swamping the brain. There have been many studies of pain, but it is still not fully understood by Western medical science. In Dru Yoga Therapy, the approach is to initially encourage the body and mind to relax.
Through a process of gentle, releasing body movements; mindful breathing techniques; and guided relaxation, the ‘noise’ is gradually turned down. Clients can find respite in these quiet moments.
Once the body-mind has released tension, we can begin to use specific movements to build strength into the supportive core, allowing it to take on its correct role once more.
Our bodies are amazing, but sometimes they need help to readjust to particular stresses. By learning how to reduce these stresses, we release tension from the muscles, creating a space in which the body can relearn how best to function.
Founder – DRUVA Yoga Therapy & Wellbeing