If an episode of lower back discomfort continues beyond two weeks, it’s time to consider physiotherapy for back pain. At Happy Physio in Perth, the physiotherapy process begins with a comprehensive medical history. A detailed orthopaedic, neurological and spinal assessment will follow. Once your physiotherapist understands the cause of your lower back pain, he or she will design a progressive treatment program.
Goals of Physiotherapy for Back Pain Programs
Ideally, a physiotherapy program for back pain does not merely eliminate the pain, it re-educates the body in the art of pain-minimizing movement styles. This involves:
- Correcting muscular imbalances
- Correcting postural alignment
- Correcting muscle usage patterns
It’s important to realize the interrelatedness of these three factors. In the beginning, your physiotherapist must determine whether muscle imbalances caused the habitual postural misalignment, or if keeping your body in a chronically misaligned position triggered a muscular imbalance. Likewise, your physiotherapist must determine whether your muscular misuse results from muscular imbalance, postural misalignment or a combination of the two?
The physiotherapists at Happy Physio in Perth use a special postural assessment tool called the Posture Pro. This device comes with software that helps your physiotherapist identify the common markers of postural deviation. Examples include:
- Forward head
- Pelvic tilt
- Pelvic list
- Uneven shoulders
Any misalignment in your body might interfere with its ability to effectively engage your core stabilizers.
Core Function and Back Pain
Whilst fans freely use the word “core,” many do not understand its true meaning. Your abdominal region has two types of muscles:
- Global muscles, sometimes called mobilizers, form the most superficial layer of the abdominal region. They are involved in movement. Your global muscles activate during exercises such as the abdominal curl
- Local muscles, also called stabilizers, are deeply embedded in the abdominal wall. Local muscles function as spinal stabilizers, and thus play an important role in physiotherapy for back pain.
Fitness expert Paul Chek, of the Paul Chek Institute, characterizes the local and global muscles as the inner unit and the outer unit. Your inner unit has three main muscle groups:
- The Transversus Abdominis
- The Pelvic Floor
- The Multifidus
The rectus abdominus and the external obliques comprise the outer unit.
Timing Core Activity
Timing is everything – in life and in back care. The results of studies performed by Paul Hodges at the University of Queensland indicate that people who had delayed activation of their deeper core muscle, or inner unit, were more likely to suffer form back pain than people who intuitively activated their core muscles prior to any lifting movement. Fortunately, your core muscles respond well to reeducation. Training your core to take a proactive approach to movement is one of the main objectives of physiotherapy for back pain.
“Look beyond the site of the crash.” This is the motto of any physiotherapist worth his or her weight in foam rollers, BOSU and stability balls. Consider the chorus of this negro spiritual, sometimes used to teach anatomy to children:
The head bone connected to the neck bone,
The neck bone connected to the back bone,
The back bone connected to the thigh bone,
The thigh bone connected to the knee bone,
The knee bone connected to the leg bone,
The leg bone connected to the foot bone,
The foot bone connected to the heel bone,
The heel bone connected to the toe bone,
In other words, it’s a clear illustration of domino theory in action. If your head, neck legs, hips or feet are misaligned, this misalignment stresses the entire structure of your body. Often, the lower back must absorb the shock.
Your physiotherapist must also function as a body detective.. He or she must look at your entire body, and seek out the suspects that are causing you pain. Whilst pain-minimization is the primary goal, your treatment might have some desirable side benefits, which include enhanced movement patterns, improved posture and increased coordination. Call (08) 9272 7359 and let us help you with your recovery.