Nothing puts a damper on the excitement of summer like a back injury! Unfortunately, they are not uncommon ...
Being cramped up all winter and sitting a lot can shorten our spinal muscles to the point where they are at risk of injury if we use them before properly preparing them for summer fun.
Rather than the ecstasy of warm weather, your first day out playing volleyball or tennis could leave you suffering from the Summer Back Pain Blues.
But that's not going to happen to you!
Instead, imagine your back muscles being strong and flexible and free of trigger points ... because you performed your self-care using simple tools such as a BALL and a WALL ...
Research in the field of Myofascial Trigger Point Therapy shows us and clinical experience confirms: Severe low back pain, hip pain, leg pain and even sciatica often result from trigger points in muscles you can treat yourself!
With so much freedom to be gained from so little cost, let's look at the 5 Muscle Recipe that has been shown to work so effectively:
Here are the 5 Muscles you will be treating. Good news! They are all muscles that you have seen before in previous issues of Muscle News.
This is a group of three muscles, Gluteus Maximus on top, Gluteus Medius underneath, and Gluteus Minimus underneath and forward. The deeper trigger points cause referred pain down the leg that can feel like Sciatic pain. To the left is the drawing of the referred pain pattern (red) from trigger points (X's) in all three glut muscles combined.
These trigger points in the front (again marked by X's) refer to bands of back pain across the waist and lower ribs, as shown. The Abdominals are so often overlooked, it is a good thing to have them checked and treated.
These muscles split into three main divisions. The closest to the spine are the Multifidi and they mostly cause pain right in the area where the trigger point is located. Further away from the spine, you find the two Iliocostalis muscles, which attach from the Ilium (hip bone) to the ribs. These trigger points refer down into the buttocks region in a tear drop pattern.
Second to last is the Quadratus Lumborum, a rectangular-shaped muscle that hikes your hip up to your ribs and pulls your ribs down toward the hips, forming a side bend. Trigger points in the QL can refer really bad "shot in the back" pain into the SI joint and hip muscles.
This is the muscle that freezes up from prolonged sitting (Sittosis) and is the number one cause of low back pain. The Psoas causes the pelvis to be unlevel and one leg to retract and become functionally shorter than the other. Trigger Points cause pain in the front of hip down the thigh, as well as all along the same side of the lumbar spine.
TOOLS: BALL, WALL, & BACKNOBBER:
There are a number of good tools to treat these 5 muscles. A variety of balls work well, from tiny rubber superballs to large inflatable therapy balls. The smaller balls work for compressing smaller muscles and providing more pointed and precise compression. Larger balls are good for covering larger muscles and broader areas.
Also, the larger the diameter of the ball, the less painful the compression experienced. Also the softer and less inflated a ball is, the less painful and intense the compression.
If the area you are working on is highly sensitive, it is often good to start with a larger, softer ball and then graduate to a smaller harder ball as you improve. Always work within tolerance and comfort level.
Very significant and focused compression can be achieved with our S-shaped tooll, the Backnobber. It is especially good for the Paraspinals because it gets to hard to reach areas in the spine.
As far as a wall goes, you just need a decent amount of flat open space. Also, you will need some open space on the floor to perform some advanced compressions.
Alright, we know the muscles! We've got the tools! So, let's get started on this technique!
*The information in this article is not intended to diagnose or treat any medical condition and does not substitute for a thorough evaluation by a medical professional. Please consult your physician to determine whether these self-care tips are appropriate for you.