The spine is a complex structure that balances the need for stability versus mobility. In general, the range of motion available in your low back is greater than your mid back. It is ideal to be in the middle range of the mobility spectrum, not too tight, and yet not too loose. Our primary stability comes from the core muscles, bracing around the spine. Unfortunately, when one sustains a back injury, the supportive back muscles can become inhibited and less able to contract. Studies have even shown the multifidus, a stabilizing muscle in the back, completely decreases in size and that space becomes filled with fat tissue. When a client comes in experiencing back pain I assess whether the core musculature has sufficient tone to provide stability for the spine. Stimulating the core muscles and maintaining mobility is part of the massage therapy session, and my home care recommendations. There are plenty of exercises that help to engage the core, stand up paddle boarding is a fun outdoor option!
The SI joints are located between the sacrum, (bone connecting the low back and the tailbone), and the two ilium, (hip bones). The two SI joints are a common cause of hip pain, either on both sides or just one. At the beginning of a massage session I assess and compare the movement on each hip/leg, typically I find there is a slight imbalance in mobility. Strong ligaments and muscles help support the SI joints, however they can become compromised due to our daily activities and habitual postures. There are many sports that favour one foot forward, or even just sitting with one leg crossed over the other can create a twisting and shift of the hips bones. Massage therapy is effective at restoring balance by drawing the hips back into alignment using subtle contractions of specific muscles. Reinforcing good alignment and biomechanics will help prevent future SI joint pain. Core stability exercises, such the plank pose shown below, builds strength and postural endurance for the hip and low back areas. It is possible to incorporate preventative exercises anywhere and everywhere!
One of the most common complaints I receive at Yaletown Massage Therapy is a sore achy back. There are many possible causes and it is not always a quick fix. I come from a personal fitness training background and typically I recommend developing good stability to take the pressure off of the hard working back muscles. I work with clients to help them engage their deep core muscles to help build their strength and stability. For home care, my favourite exercise is the plank and it’s many variations. It can take less than 3 minutes a day to really wake up your core! On the other hand, sit ups or crunches are not necessarily the most effective exercise since we spend so many hours in our day sitting and tightening up the hips. Core stability means more than just six-pack abs, it includes the back and glutes to balance everything out. A personalized treatment plan including appropriate home care recommendations is all part of my massage therapy sessions. I help clients create a stable core to alleviate and prevent future back pain!