Lower Back Disorders
This month at Fine Form Physio we take a look at Lower Back.
Proactive not Reactive
In recent years, there has been a strong shift towards preventing back disorders before it gets to a stage where you need to react and seek treatment. There is a high recurrence of repeated low back disorders after an initial injury (>80%). Most people suffering from lower back disorders have heard of the infamous 'core'. A misconception is that the core is not just the abdominal muscles, but rather three main muscles working together to support and protect the spine.
Imagine a can of soft drink. You have the lid, the base and the tin that wraps around.
This can of soft drink represents the core. The lid of the can is the diaphragm, the base of the can is the pelvic floor, and the surrounding is the abdominal muscles. These three muscles make up the CORE.
Diaphragm - this is a muscle that sits on the bottom of the ribcage that allows you to breath in and out
Abdominal Muscles - this is a corset of muscles that allow the trunk to twist & crunch
Pelvic Floor - this is a sling-like muscle that holds the bladder, bowel, and reproductive organs in place.
Your spine runs through the middle of your core and these muscles work together to provide support and stability of the spine.
It is common that lower back disorders are caused by sub-optimal use of the core when performing daily tasks such as repetitive lifting or bending. It is useful to imagine the can of soft drink on how the core is often misused when lifting heavy items.
Imagine you have shaken a closed can of soft drink. As you shake, inside the can the soft drink fizzes and pressure continues to build up inside the can. Once you open the lid, the pressure can escape. This is the same for the core. Often, when someone goes to lift something heavy, they 'brace the core' by holding their breath. Unfortunately for some, they forget to breath out as they lift. What occurs, is a build up of pressure inside the abdominal cavity as they hold their breath, and this places a high load on the spine as there is nowhere for the pressure to escape. Repeat that over and over throughout your day and there is a continuous large amount of pressure placed on the spine which can lead to pain.
Using correct lifting technique by ensuring you engage the abdominal muscles and pelvic floor, while performing correct breathing technique can help to minimize the pressure placed on the spine.
So how can you practice engaging all aspects of the core? Pilates.
Although this is not the only way to engage the core, Clinical Pilates is a great form of exercise that is guided by a Physiotherapist that ensures all clients move through each exercise with correct technique. Clinicians will cue throughout each exercise the correct breathing technique to ensure you engage the core effectively and perform the exercise effectively and safely.
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