When was the last time you went to get help from a medical professional concerning the cause of your chronic back pain? What are the things they did to help you?
Let me take a guess. They poked and prodded you, dressed you in patient garb and submitted you for CAT scans, MRIs, X-Rays and every other time of examination available. Then they bogged you down with a truckload of prescriptions and sent you on your way with no definite explanation as to the real reason for your back pain. Perhaps, you gained some relief from this procedure, but the pain returned. So, you went to get a second opinion and then a third and a fourth, but the pain has persisted.
Does this sound about right to you? That’s because our traditional approach to chronic muscle issues is usually not the way to address the problem permanently; it usually just papers over the cracks at best.
Still, there is no reason to lose hope entirely and resign yourself to a life of living with your pain forever. There is always an answer to everything, and you just need to find it.
In my case, I found my answer in clinical massage. Like me, many who go in for a clinical massage session are blown away by the results they get after just a single session that focuses on their muscles and connective tissues. The relief they feel is significant. Also, like me, most of these people had already tried out traditional methods that should have worked but got no results.
The problem isn’t necessarily that these traditional methods are a waste of time. Most traditional specialists are very skilled at what they do, but their skill set is not designed to deal with issues concerning out muscular health.
How Chronic Back Pain Feels Like
As a young woman in my twenties, I was that person I described at the beginning of this post. I lived with unrelenting, mind-numbing chronic low back pain for five long years. At that time, I went in to see every kind of professional: physical therapist, orthopedist, neurologist and every other related profession in between. The outcome was the same everytime. After an avalanche of MRIs and X-Rays, no concrete reason came to light, so they “expertly” decided that I was suffering from a bulging disc. This diagnosis resulted in sending me home with more prescriptions than I knew what to do with.
Besides my back issues, I was as healthy as a horse, and I tried to remain active until the pain became more than I could handle. However, I never stopped looking for a solution, and thankfully, I found deep tissue massage and its many benefits to be the ultimate solution for me. Around this time, after five years of my chronic back pain, I went in for three sessions of deep tissue massage in a two-week period. I experienced significant relief after the first session. By the end of the third session, the pain had completely disappeared. Even more remarkable is that the pain never returned, and it’s been over two decades (I had the massage sessions in 1998).
How Active Are You?
Since then, I’ve taken it up a notch in how active I’ve been. Besides the fact that I now run my own multi-therapist clinic, I have also been involved in marathons and have also naturally given birth to two beautiful kids. And these are just a few of the things I have done since my chronic back pain went the way of the typewriter.
If you are not suffering from chronic back pain, chances are that you know someone who is. And that is because our society is increasingly built on lifestyle choices, postures and positional patterns that restrict our mobility by tightening our muscles or muscle joints and causing tension and pain whenever we try to move. This is guaranteed to get worse if we can’t identify the everyday habits that are responsible for these tension patterns.
When you keep taking a posture that consistently contracts any given muscle, muscle group, or restricts tissue movement, it creates and builds up pressure that your brain eventually registers as pain. As these kinds of issues linger, they eventually create enough pressure that can be felt all the way to the nerves that run through the muscle tissues.
Obviously, nerve pressure can be caused by other structures such as your bones for instance. But what if your tests come back empty and the scans turn up nothing on the imaging? There is a big chance that your problem has to do with a chronic muscular tension pattern. The most obvious reason for this conclusion is that almost everything can be detected from the scans. Everything except muscular tension that is.
Are you Enduring the Pain?
As a result, so many people are having to endure excruciating pain. This is because their doctors have conducted every known and related test and still can’t find anything. But there is something else which is alarming. It is that some of these medical professionals proceed to try to convince them. They believe that the pain is more psychosomatic than physical! Muscle groups constitute a high volume of our body system. It is irresponsible to dismiss a muscle problem as psychosomatic because it doesn’t show up on scans.
So, what are the main causes of chronic lower back pain in women, men and everybody else? We’ve come to realize that the typical back pain issues can be traced back to the chronic strain. This is one that occurs as a result of the postures we take during sleep, at work, and also what we do when we’re out and about (recreational activities).
So, all you must do is reset your postures, right? Well, forming new habits and patterns is easier said than done.
Consider Some Habits Which Cause Back Pain
For some, their chronic back pain causes are tied to the fact that they sit for extended periods of time, probably because they work a desk job. Whenever your leg is curled to any degree, the muscles in your upper legs are shortened. In a sitting position, your legs form a perpendicular shape at the knees which shortens these muscles and also clumps them tighter towards each other. Because these muscles connect to your pelvis, you will notice a pull on that structure when you eventually try to stand.
The same is true when you form even more acute angles with your leg, such as curling your legs inwards until they are under the chair. This posture is one of my best, and to be honest, I still fall for it sometimes, but it shortens your hamstrings even further than the straight sitting position. And the tension it creates can be felt all the way to your back. If you love to sit cross-legged, with the ankle of one leg placed horizontally on the knee of the other, your pelvis is twisted somewhat in that posture. That torsional tension creates a strain on the tender tissues that surround the sacroiliac joint. The resultant pain is most usually felt along the sacrum in the rump area.
While trying to get some shut-eye at home, most of us subconsciously take sleep postures that discomfort our muscles and cause chronic pain in our lower back. This low back pain or mattress back pain, as I’ve heard some people refer to it, can arise from adopting a sleeping position. Such a position bends the knee, consequently shortening the muscles.
We’ve found that many people who love to sleep on their stomach. They usually have one leg raised out to the side such that their knee is above their hip level. The same goes for side sleepers. These positions exert pressure on different muscle groups. Thus, in the process shortening them and twisting them. This in turn causes pressure and a general imbalance where it concerns the joints they are connected to.
Soon, these positions begin to feel like the only comfortable sleeping positions. You can take as every other position feels uncomfortable. Unfortunately, you can only stay in that position for so long. This is because you’ll have to wake up eventually, and then comes the pain. Perhaps, the only structurally neutral and relatively recommendable sleeping position is lying straight on your back. However, as usual, it is pretty much the same posture as when you’re standing.
Try using a neck pillow set from Amazon, which has helped several people with back and neck pain.
How about when you’re out and about?
For instance, the pain you feel in your knee or back when you’re taking a stroll or going for a run. Many times, this pain is not caused by the fact that you’re running or walking. In most people, we’ve found that at that moment, their muscles feel strained because of the hours they’ve already spent shortening them while sleeping or sitting at a desk for many hours every day.
These recreational activities then tend to stretch the shortened muscles, which in turn pull on the joints, causing the pain being felt at that point. Other times, chronic pain from recreational activity can be a repetitive strain from something you engage in everyday. This could be from the postures you take when cycling, carrying heavy loads, working out at the gym (all of which can definitely cause pain in the lower back, upper leg or other muscle groups) or anything that often requires you to take a posture that is out of sync with your body’s biomechanical convention.
One of the solutions I found for my chronic back pain was undergoing three sessions of deep tissue massage. In addition to that, I began a stretching exercise. This activates not just my muscles but also the surrounding connective tissues. This is a holistic approach to stretching.
How does it work?
It’s down to how long you keep your muscle stretching. For most people, stretching any muscle group usually just takes a few seconds. This is before they return to their neutral position and then repeat the process. But this doesn’t give the muscle fibers enough time to relax and give in to the stretch. The way our muscles work, when we stretch, their first instinct is self-preservation. So, for the first few seconds of stretching, our muscles contract. This is to balance the opposing force. It is also to keep themselves from stretching their way into a tear. Hold a stretch for at least 45 to 60 seconds. You will begin to feel your muscles relax.
By the time you hold this stretch for longer, about 90 seconds and up to 2 minutes, it is different. The effects of the stretch will have made their way to the deeper muscle fibers. The connective tissue lines the length of the muscle all the way to where the muscles meet the bone. You can literally feel your muscles expand their mobility threshold and finally free you from debilitating chronic pain. It is a really rewarding experience.
This is probably why many people practice yin yoga for back pain relief and alleviation of bodily discomfort in general. In a Yin Yoga class, all positions are held for even longer, around 5 minutes for each position, which helps to really relax the muscles, open up restricted tissues, and eliminate tightness wherever you might be feeling it.
Even though I tried physical therapy and chiropractic care, I didn’t find permanent freedom from chronic low back pain. Not until I found deep tissue massage and stretching. It is not just about identifying the patterns causing and amplifying your muscle and connective tissue pain. But if my story is any indication, there is light at the end of the tunnel.
I know just as well as anyone how greatly chronic pain can restrict your social life and your everyday activities. Not to mention the attendant depression, anger, and unwanted life changes and schedules that come with the territory. It is all very disheartening.
But if you must know anything you should know this. Giving up is the only guarantee you have that the problem WON’T go away. You must keep hope alive and keep searching for an answer. It is irrelevant how many “solutions” you’ve tried that did not work. No, it doesn’t matter if you’ve taken back pain injections severally. It doesn’t matter if you’ve even popped tramadol for your back pain a few times.
Try to Get Relief From The Pain
Even if your doctors have told you that your pain is all in your head. You are told that you are otherwise fine, never stop searching. You’re the only one that understands the pain you’re going through and how real it is. You’re the only person that gets the damage your muscle structure has incurred from years of postural strains. You can still find help, and no one should tell you otherwise. I suffered through mine for years before I found my answer and you can find yours too.
In case you are interested, try a posture corrector from Amazon, which has helped me a lot. I am sure, it is going to make a difference.
No matter how long you’ve been reeling from the pain. You will find someone who’s been through it. You will find someone who is willing to show you how to heal your chronic pain.
Never give up! I wish you every success in your journey.