About 3.1 million Americans experience low back pain at any given time preventing people from work and everyday activities. It is the most common reason for missed workdays. It accounts for 264 million lost workdays in one year. That is two work weeks for every full-time worker in the country. It is estimated that 80% of the population will experience back pain at some time during their lifetime. It affects all populations and all ages. It is the 3rd most common reason for doctor visits. Most of the time it is muscle related and not caused by pathology. Years lived with disability caused by low back pain have increased by 54% between 1990 and 2015.
There are any number of reasons for low back pain but the #1 and #2 reasons are WEAK ABDOMINALS and/or TIGHT HAMSTRINGS.
So why do 3.1 million Americans have low back pain? Why are even the kids getting back pain? Why do so many of us have weak abdominals and tight hamstrings?
It is due to lack of adequate physical activity or what is called HYPOKENETIC DISEASE. Lack of adequate physical activity also contributes to multiple issues such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, muscle tension and heart problems.
There is NO longer physical education or productive activity in this country. No one moves. No one has been taught to move. We used to move. But we did it on our own. It is how we built our bodies and we loved the feeling of moving. When I say no one moves I mean the majority of the people don’t move. Who moves? The ones you couldn’t keep down or from getting into trouble. If you have always moved you know how good it feels and you then HAVE to move. Nothing will stop you.
When I was growing up we were outside, no matter the weather, we were walking, running, hopping, jumping, hop-scotching, skipping rope, sledding, roller skating, biking, climbing, and balancing. We walked to the store, the library, the summer concert, the beach and our friends’ homes. Now all that has been replaced by cars, buttons, and screens. And nothing is there in the form of REAL physical education to fill that void.
- Do bent knee sit-ups with your feet held down and your hands behind your neck. The roll down part of the sit-up is the most important. You are strengthening while lengthening your abdominal muscles against the resistance of your own body weight. The results are four times as fast. So do the roll down part of the sit-up S L O W L Y. If you have a sensitive spine, coccyx or sacrum, spread a bath towel and fold it in thirds lengthwise. Then fold the ends toward the middle two times. Result: you will have 2 places for your bottom and a place in the middle for your spine.
- Stretch your hamstrings with flexibility bounces. You must be both strong and flexible to remain pain free. Tight muscles set up a resistance when you try to stretch them. Use ballistic stretch, little pulses. This encourages the muscles to “let go.” Check out Video A: Flexibility Bounces.
And Your Kids, Too
The body is built between birth and six. At that age it is totally up to you. Don’t count on the elementary schools. They don’t have programs or gyms or in some cases recess out of doors. They depend on the classroom teacher who has little or no training in how to move little bodies productively. By then it is too late anyway.
If You Have Back Pain, Fix It
- If you do have back pain but can’t do a sit-up, start sitting with knees bent, feet held down, arms out in front and roll down S L O W L Y. Get up any way you can and then roll down S L O W L Y. Soon you will be able to swing your arms and come to a sitting position. Scroll down to the video below, which features Bonnie Prudden demonstrating the Kraus-Weber tests and how to progress. See also Video C for the Back Limbering Series, which will not only help to get rid of the back pain but prevent it from returning.
- First, stand with your feet together and knees straight. Bend over slowly and see how close you can come to touching the floor. Measure from your fingertips to the floor as a -3 or -5 or whatever. Do the flexibility bounces in Video A – or with Bonnie in the video below – to encourage your hamstrings to let go. Lack of flexibility is harder to fix because it is often tied to stress and/or poor training. That means that you will need to encourage your hamstrings to let go often throughout the day in order to remind them to let go and learn a new habit.
What Does This Mean?
- Your body will thank you. Your gait will improve and so will your lung capacity. You will feel better, be stronger and have more energy because your muscles will be performing correctly and efficiently.
- You will have saved yourself and those you love from pain, suffering and inconvenience.
- You will have saved yourself lost workdays and have more time to enjoy the people and things you love to do.
- Because you won’t have to go to the doctor you will have saved yourself time and expense and given him/her more time with those who need him/her most.
- You will have saved your country money.
If you have questions or need help, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about Bonnie Prudden®, Bonnie Prudden Myotherapy®, workshops, books, self-help tools, DVDs, educational videos, and blogs, visit www.bonnieprudden.com. Or call 520-529-3979 if you have questions or need help. Enid Whittaker, Managing Director, Bonnie Prudden Myotherapy®.