Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Poor Posture Leads to Pain - Part 1 The Low back

When my clients explain their low back pain to me it is usually described as a nagging, broad, encompassing pain running across the back of their pelvis  and sometimes includes tingling and numbing sensations through the buttocks and down the back of a leg. I firstly advise them to consult with their doctor, and then I probe to learn more about recent activities, injuries or overload that may have occurred. Ruling out anything much more serious, it is often the case that a postural imbalance and weak core is largely contributing to the problem.

Goldilocks Principle – Finding Just Right vs. Tilted or Tucked

Forward Tilt….This is when the pelvis is tipped too far forward (anterior) at the hip joint, which then pulls more curve (lordosis) into the lumbar spine, tightening the quadratus lumborum muscles across the low back, shortening the hip flexor muscles, and weakening all the abdominals. Try Cat Stretch, Hip Roll, and Thigh Stretch exercises to gently lengthen and stretch the chronically short tight low back and hip muscles, plus Low Ab Curl, Rolling Like a Ball, & Bridge to help strengthen the core and glutes. 

Tucked Under…..This is when the pelvis is rolled too far back (posterior) at the hip joint, held in a “tail tucked” position which flattens out the natural curve of the low spine, tightening the hamstrings and weakening the core. Exercises that maintain the pelvis in a neutral position while stabilizing with the deep core muscles (transversus abs, pelvic floor, multifidi) and moving at the hip are recommended. Try Supine Heel Slides & Toe Taps, 4 Point Knee Lift Off and Standing 1/2 Squat, plus Side Leg Lift Series and Hamstring Stretches are also recommended to strengthen the hips and lengthen the tight back line.

Just Right …. Tilting and tucking of the pelvis both cause joint compression, core disconnect and poor movement patterns. Learning to stabilize the pelvis in its neutral position brings access to better core control, hip mobility and a healthier low back. Practice standing, walking and sitting with the pelvic bowl level and balanced over your legs. Allow your sitting bones to “move away” from one another rather than holding the buttocks tight, and think of gently drawing your low belly wall and pelvic floor muscles upward and in as you breathe deeply, creating a corset of core support around your center. Feel supported, stable and balanced around the middle, then grow the spine tall. Just right!

If you have any questions about this article or would like any of the above exercises described to you in more detail, please feel free to email me at janine@pilatesfunction.com.