Back Pain Solution– Personal Trials

BEST THING about being a massage therapist and personal trainer, more specifically an orthopedic exercise and functional training specialist, is that I can put myself through trials. The most recent trial was for Low back pain. YES I had low back pain. While performing massages I do not have the best body mechanics, which can put a lot of stress and strain on my back, especially when I do not work out efficiently. During this particular stretch of time I was not working out efficiently. So one morning I wake up with pretty bad low back stiffness and mild pain. I couldn’t even bend over or lift my leg to put my socks on. But as the day went on, the stiffness subsided but the pain was still mild with some movements. Sound like some of you? I know it does. I thought to myself that this was the perfect time to do all those things I tell my low back pain clients to do for relief. What I did is listed below–All just one week
Stretched all muscles in the legs 45 seconds or longer
Stretched all muscles in the core 45 seconds or longer
Foam rolled legs and glutes, released trigger points in Quadratus lumborum and glute medius using thumb, theracane and lacrosse ball.
5 Straight days of core exercises–hit the back extension pretty hard due to muscles feeling weak and likely being overstretched due to leaning forward during massages..
3 days of lower body workouts–very rarely will any back pain or problems be solved with legs that are dysfunctional either due to being weak or over-tight. The better your legs are functioning, the better your upper half will feel and function.
After that solid week of work the pain subsided completely and has never come back. It was the first time I experienced that type of pain so I was pretty nervous at first, much like how you probably were when you first experienced back pain. You most likely ran to the Dr only to be given meds and not a solution. Making your back even worse down the road. Sometimes the solution is simple if you know where to look AND take action. Don’t rely heavily on health professionals to solve your problems. Proper, consistent exercise AND soft tissue therapy can help relieve and prevent serious injuries from occurring.


Excuses AKA Goal Killers

Let’s talk about EXCUSES. In the fitness world you deal with a plethora of excuses but some of the most common are “not enough time” too busy with work” “have to spend time with the kids” “money is tight” “too tired” “too stressed”. That’s all fine and dandy but what happens when the lack of exercising catches up to you? What happens you start to have health related issues? What happens when you start to have non stop muscle aches and pains and the headaches become an everyday thing? What happens when the Dr tells you some news you didn’t want to hear? This is what will likely happen: You’ll end up spending money on Dr visits, medication, and in worst cases surgery that was needed because the damage was irreversible. Will that lower or increase your stress? You’ll scramble from Dr to Dr to physical and massage therapist, to chiropractor to different gyms to different trainers to find a quick solution, only to realize there is no quick solution. It’ll take TIME, the thing you said you didn’t have enough of to begin with, BUT you’ll manage to find it because things took a turn for the worse…So essentially, you’ll end up spending more money than you would have had you began exercising years ago.
You’ll always be busy, you’ll always have stuff going on in your life. That is a null excuse. People make time for what they think is important but unfortunately for most, they don’t see their health as important until something bad happens or reality hits. Which may be too late by then.
Don’t use your kids as a reason why you can’t exercise or take care of yourself regularly, use them as a reason why you should. They need you. Mentally and physically. Too many of us have lost loved ones due to health related illnesses, some of which may have been prevented if they only took better care of themselves. Ask yourself if you encouraged them to get healthier. If not, why didn’t you? Do you have a spouse or a significant other that you hold accountable for getting or staying healthy? You should care about their health just as much as they do.
Is anyone their best version of themselves when they are loaded with stress or depression? If exercise is proven to reduce both, why neglect it? Be selfish with your health. Make time for you. If you have 15 minutes of free time a day, you have enough time for exercise. Instead of spending an extra 10 minutes on the toilet looking at IG of FB, spend that time stretching or walking, smellin funky and everything. Exercise during commercials, try holding planks the duration of commercial breaks, hit some squats. If you work all week and do nothing but work eat and sleep then repeat, use the weekends. Just get started. Eliminate the excuses or someday they may eliminate you! (Was that a good line? I just thought of it)

Adductor involvement w/ Back Pain

CRAZIEST thing I heard last week was when a client came in with two knee replacements and has been receiving massages frequently ever since the replacements and has NEVER had these muscles worked on! First of all if you have any hip, knee, ankle or low back issues and you have never had these muscles worked on, you need to find a new massage therapist because they either don’t care, or they truly just don’t understand anatomy and physiology, which will not help you progress.

These muscles commonly referred to as the adductors play a pivotal role when you walk(I included the vastus medialis in the picture, a quadricep muscle). Every time you take a step, essentially you are balanced on one leg. What helps keep you stabilized is those adductors along with your gluteus medius to counteract the adductors. Possible visual signs of dysfunction in either muscle is a postural distortion called ‘knock knees’ where your knees are literally touching. More than likely, you have overactive adductors, and under-active glute medius. Now, I have never had a client that came in with knock knees and did not have both tension and or pain upon palpation in the glute medius and adductor group. With that, the typical client that comes in with knock knees experiences pain or tension in the low back, hips, or knees. If you take a look at those adductor muscles, you can see that there are attachments at the pelvis, and down around the knee… Therefore, you can imagine, if these muscles become over-tight or dysfunctional, they can effect your hip and knee joints by altering the way you move, sit, and by creating further muscle imbalance with the glute medius and other muscles directly involved with the movement.

The sad thing is, so many people are exercising with no clue what they are really doing to their body and no clue what they really should be doing in the gym. Exercising should never be painful and you shouldn’t just do what everyone else is doing because it gave them results. Every body is different. Take the time to learn about your body. Find professionals that will take the time to teach you what you need to learn. Then take action.

Try this test: Balance on your right leg, does your left hip drop? If so you likely have over-tight adductors and an under-active gluteus medius on your right side. Now test the other leg.

Question: Is there anyone that does Crossfit that has never had pain in any of their joints? I’m asking for a friend…

Numbness and tingling down the arm, and the likely culprit

infraspinatus TRP

A very very common area clients have tension or trigger points they had NO idea existed is on top of the shoulder blade, or the muscle known as the infraspinatus.  The infraspinatus is part of the rotator cuff muscle group and it’s one people don’t really feel when it’s being used. Functions of this muscle include lateral rotation of the arm and stabilization of the shoulder joint. It’s responsible along with 3 other muscles for keep the head of the humerus from slipping out of the socket when you move your shoulder. Clients I have found to have issues with this muscle have been people whom work at desk jobs, dental assistants, chefs, auto techs, swimmers, MMA fighters, boxers, and those who regularly attend a martial arts class.

Symptoms that are likely caused from trigger points in the infraspinatus muscle are tendonitis in the elbow, bicepital tendonitis, numbness or tingling down the arm, forearm tension, pain or tension in the deltoids (shoulder), and potentially pain in the wrist.

If you look at the trigger point pattern shown in the picture above, it’s showing what’s called a pain referral pattern. Pain referrals are important and often telling for massage therapists due to the fact that it let’s us know what other muscles may be affected from the trigger point. For example, I mentioned how more than 90% of the clients never knew they had trigger points on the infraspinatus muscle. So a client will come in and describe having numbness down their arm when they wake in the morning, shoulder pain and forearm tension. They say that they sit prolonged hours throughout the work day 5 days a week and do not exercise regularly.  No mention of ‘shoulder blade’ pain.

One of the first muscles I examine is the infraspinatus, and almost, almost 100% of the time the client feels a shooting pain or tingling down their arm. And sure enough, they feel trigger points or knots in the locations where they felt the tingling in the arm (bicep, forearm, deltoids, or wrist)

Along with this muscle, I examine the scalenes, pectoralis major and minor, deltoids, the other 3 rotator cuff muscles, (subscapularis, supraspinatus, and teres minor).

Ways to help reduce infraspinatus dysfunction and tension: massage 🙂, rotator cuff strengthening, self trigger point release using a thera cane or back buddy, stay hydrated.