Posted by: charleenesfitness | October 22, 2009

Bad Backs Run in my Family

Bad Backs Run In My Family Posted by: Tim George | September 29, 2009 

According to WebMD, back pain affects nearly 80% of Americans at some time in their lives.  In fact it is probably a safe assumption that you or someone you know is suffering with back pain right now.  So what is at the core of this modern epidemic?  What is the true underlying cause of back pain?

Most experts would agree that back pain is caused by age, injury from a sport or activity, or even family history.  Yet if it is age then why isn’t the entire back hurting, it’s all the same age right?  Why don’t all people age 50 or older have back pain?  If it’s due to a non-contact injury from a sport or activity then wouldn’t all participants in that sport or activity have back pain?  As for genetics predisposing you to a bad back.  I agree that many of our personality traits, talents, disposition, and physical and emotional traits are passed down from our parents.  However in my opinion I feel that back pain is not something that is genetic.  I believe that our environment, activity level, and personal choices have more to do with predisposing us to back pain than blaming it on genetics.

Below is an excerpt from the book Health Through Motion by Pete Egoscue.

“…. Necessity is the mother of invention.  Well, the human body was invented by necessity.  Primitive man either moved or perished.  The design of the body was “invented” to satisfy that requirement.  Today, the design is unaltered: we are not moving a body that was intended for movement, and which depends on that movement for its continued operation and maintenance.  The body knows this and tells us the facts of life.  How?  The most dramatic way is with pain.” (Health Through Motion, p 10)

The human spine is not fragile and it is not weak.  The cause of back pain is not due to age, overuse, or because Dad had a bad back, and it is not something that just happens.  The leading CAUSE of back pain, is poor POSTURE.  Pain is a signal and when you have back pain your body is trying to tell you something is happening that should not be happening.  To better understand let’s take a closer look at the human spine.

The spine consists of 24 vertebrae, and when standing it helps to support the entire weight of our trunk, arms, and head.  In between each of these vertebrae are some cushions, that help to absorb the weight, known as inter-vertebral disks.  These disks consist of a tough outer layer, the annulus fibrosus, and a liquid center called the nucleus pulposus.  When weight is placed on the disks the annulus fibrosus supports the nucleus pulposus in compressing and distributing the pressure.  The nucleus is mostly water, some of which is squeezed out during the course of the day.  This emphasizes the importance of staying hydrated to keep the disks healthy and strong.

As seen in the image the spine has a natural S-curve.  This curvature allows for a wide array of movement, support, and protection for our body.  The S-curve is developed and maintained by the muscles of the trunk and pelvis.  The more we move the stronger and more agile our spine and body becomes, the less we move the weaker it becomes and more susceptible to injuries.  When the S-curve of the spine is altered it puts a lot of stress on the structures of the spine and ultimately the body will let you know by sending the pain signal.

Below is the design or “blueprint” of the human body.  Just like the S-curve of the spine, the body’s design is developed and maintained by muscles.  When our body deviates from this design from lack of motion, past injuries that cause our body to compensate, etc. it puts stress on the body and to let us know that something is wrong our body sends the signal of pain.


Now take a look at the photos below.  What do you see?  Do you think the S-curve of the spine has been affected?   How do they differ from the “blueprint” of the human body?  Is it possible that their posture could be causing the back pain?

Our posture is a snapshot of the world we live in, and today’s modern world does not require us to move enough to keep our posture healthy and balanced.  Remember muscles move your bones, so  a lack of adequate motion will certainly affect the muscular balance needed to keep your posture and body in alignment and pain free.

So how do you know if your posture is causing your back pain or predisposing you to possibly developing some back pain down the road.  Here are some quick self-assessment questions to ask:

  1. Do your shoes wear unevenly?  With uneven shoe wear it’s a safe assumption your hips are functioning unevenly as well.  Your spine is designed to sit on a balanced pelvis and sacrum, however if the hips are not working evenly the spine is going to be compromised with every step you take.
  2. Do you your feet turn out when you stand or walk?  Does one foot turn out more than the other?  Your feet were designed to point straight ahead, if one or both feet turn out that is a sign of poor hip function which again can compromise the spine.
  3. Are your low back or hip muscles tender to the touch?  Remember that imbalance=pain.
  4. If you sit on the edge of a chair with your legs propped up on the edge of another chair and you flex your feet back toward you, can you straighten your legs?  If you can’t straighten your legs, it’s indicative of tightness up the posterior portion of your legs, hips, and back.  Instead of merely working on your flexibility, why not ask why they are tight in the first place, and then fix that.
  5. Can you interlace your fingers behind your head and pull your elbows back without restrictions in your shoulders?  If not, your upper back and shoulders have become very immobile and will affect the S-Curve of the spine.

The best way to keep back pain away or to get rid of it for good is to address the postural dysfunction that is causing the pain.  That starts first by taking the responsibility for your pain, and doing what is necessary to get yourself out of pain. Click on the link below for some exercises to get you going, if you have questions just ask.  Let’s get started.

Back Pain E-Cises

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