The first step is to heal and optimise your active and passive structures, and specific Physio exercises have been proven to work time and time again – helping you feel calm, move freely, and enjoy life pain free. Imagine YOU at YOUR best!
Your second step is to understand and act on the 6 simple strategies to put you in full control of your low back pain.
I have included your first couple of actions steps for each strategy. Awareness is power, action produces results!
1. Breathing pattern
You and I can live without food for weeks and water for days, but air only for only a few minutes.
Hundreds of the low back pain sufferers I have helped over the past decade were over-breathers, had weak diaphragms and inefficient breathing.
Modern life has negatively influenced our breathing. Over-breathing causes our carbon dioxide levels to drop, which means less oxygen will be delivered to the working muscles (read up on the BOHR effect). This commonly results in overexertion, early fatigue, and possible injury.
Efficient breathing on the other hand means less free radicals are produced, reducing inflammation, tissue damage and injury.
Often in combination with over-breathing I detect that my client is a mouth breather as well.
Generally, when an animal (such as a human) breathes through its mouth it is a sign of distress, sickness or injury.
Nose breathing is super important – it warms and humidifies incoming air, removes a significant amount of bad germs and bacteria from the air we breathe in, and optimises the release of the extraordinary molecule nitric oxide in the nasal airways to be transferred to the lower airways and lungs.
Nitric oxide plays a super important role in vaso-regulation (opening and closing of blood vessels), homeostasis (how our body maintains a state of stable physiological balance in order to stay alive), neurotransmission (the messaging system within the brain), immune defence and respiration. It also helps prevent high blood pressure, lower cholesterol, keep the arteries flexible and young, and prevent the clogging of arteries with plaque and clots.
Thirdly, many of my former low back pain sufferers were upper chest breathers – which is associated with a stress response.
To cut a long story short:
Breathe in and out through your nose (it takes time and effort but massively worth the rewards)
When you breathe in, feel your stomach slowly come out
Maintain an upright position
If you are in doubt, book in and I’ll get you sorted.
Stress is unfortunately very common in our modern society.
The way we position or use our body can create mental stress, what we think about can create stress, where we hang out can create stress, what we put in our mouth can create stress, and life challenges can create stress.
Stress can influence every cell in your body, and when chronic it can be very toxic (change your body in not so good ways).
Elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol in your body is like swimming with hungry sharks when it goes past the acute stage.
It was common for my former low back pain sufferers to take big deep breaths in an attempt to calm themselves down.
The problem was they would take a big deep breath in through their mouths, expand their rib cages (chest) and raise their shoulders – and then do a massive sigh out through their mouth.
This was having the opposite effect to what they were wanting – and it’s neither (truly) deep or beneficial for oxygenating the body.
Now, the correct way to take a deep breath is where the abdominal area expands on the breath in, and it’s gentle and quiet. This will be calming.
Other ways to obliterate stress include choosing to put your focus on good things, whats wrong will always be available – one is good for your health, the other not so good.
The right type of movement and exercise are the fastest ways to obliterate stress – you get a flood of good neurochemicals released internally and a reduction of cortisol.
The shape of our bodies today are a result of the way we have used them up until today.
Our bodies adapt at the cellular level in good or bad ways depending on what we do regularly.
The quality of structures can change, the contractile properties of muscles can change, blood vessel quality can change, the chemical makeup can change, motor patterns can change, neural activation patterns can change, and the list goes on.
Even the quality of our thoughts can change – there is a lot of great recent research on embodied cognition thats shows how our bodies influence our thoughts.
A famous TED Talk by Amy Cuddy revealed how simple postures directly and quickly influence our cortisol and testosterone levels.
I want to keep it really simple for you today – our bodies love movement and a variety of it – they dislike static positions unless sleeping.
The more you move correctly, the healthier your lower back and what supports your lower back will be.
Sleep is a biological need for restoration, rebuilding, and energising the body and brain – it helps us succeed by helping us be more alert, wholesome, productive, and happy.
Ask yourself this: if you could do less and become healthier, more productive, and successful, would you do it? You can if you know how to rest?
My former low back pain sufferers all struggled with quantity and quality of sleep – and it’s not just coincidence.
When you consider that after air, food and water – sleep is the most critical necessity for maintaining the body’s vital organs and systems – it’s easy to understand not enough sleep will negatively influence your low back pain.
There isn’t one part of your emotional, mental, or physical performance that’s not affected by the quality of your sleep.
Other consequences of sleep deprivation include immune system failure, diabetes, cancer, obesity, memory loss, and depression.
On the plus side if you do get enough sleep you will boost your hormone function, heal your muscles, tissues, and organs, and make your mind work at it’s optimal.
You must make sleep a priority by doing the following:
Have a digital sunset – ideally when the sun goes down
Eliminate all light sources in your bedroom
Ideally have your bedroom temperature between 17 to 20 degrees
Develop a ‘switch off’ button – stress and anxiety are common sleep thief’s
You and I can go without food for a month, but can only go without water for a few days.
Water is crucial and affects every cell and organ within your body – including your lower back. Water makes up approximately 70% of your body.
My former low back pain suffering clients were all drinking too little water, and the majority of our population spends a large portion of their lives dehydrated.
Common signs and symptoms of not enough water include dizziness, weakness, confusion, sluggishness, lack of energy and dry mouth.
Interestingly the intervertebral discs that are located between two vertebrae – and you have 5 of these at your lumbar spine (lower back) – have an inner substance that is primarily water.
During the day, as our upright spine works against gravity, water is slowly squeezed out of the discs – hence why we lose a centimetre or two in height throughout the day.
At night the discs will slowly rehydrate again. Regular movement throughout the day also helps with disc health and hydration.
But if there is not enough water (or movement), the discs can become compromised – the same as other structures in your body and brain.
It is recommended to drink half of your body weight in ounces for maximal benefit and energy (more if you exercise)
You can use a conversion calculator on Google to convert your ounces to litres.
The food we take into our mouth goes into our stomach, where it gets digested and eventually assimilates into the bloodstream. Our blood is what creates our cells, our tissues, our organs, our skin, our hair, our brains and even our thoughts and feelings. We are, at our most basic level, walking food. – Joshua Rosenthal
This quote pretty much sums up why nutrients are crazy important to help you fix your low back pain.
The world of nutrition is very challenging with contradictory and confusing info – but the essentials are super simple.
You and I would be much better off having less meat, milk, sugar, chemicalised, artificial junk food, tobacco, caffeine, and alcohol.
And increase our water intake, whole grains and veggies, particularly dark leafy greens.
My former low back pain sufferers all made a shift from predominantly consuming processed artificial food types to more organic natural nutritious foods.
You don’t need to be a mad professor to understand the link between optimising nutrient intake and a healthy lower back.
What is next?
The first step is to heal and optimise your active and passive structures, and specific Physio exercises are proven to be beneficial for this.
In our Healthy Lower Back Pathway program we get you performing some of the best exercises on world class equipment to achieve the precise changes you need for better alignment, flexibility, strength, and endurance to heal, protect, and offload your lower back. And get you back to doing what you love the most.
This program will shift you onto the right pathway towards:
- helping you move freely again
- feeling calm and confident
- enjoying life pain free