Fix Your Spine Curve to Stop The Pain
I know you are rearing to go! Some of you are ready to start jumping into planks and all kinds of strengthening exercises, but I need you to PUMP THE BREAKS.
At this stage, the goal is to REDUCE PAIN.
More exercise and lots of activity will only irritate your back.
First, it is crucial that you acknowledge the fact that the lower back was built with a SLIGHT CURVATURE (hollow).
*The "Lumbar Spine" is your lower back. Notice the slight curvature (hollow).
This curvature allows the spine to function at its best. Similar to a skyscraper, the spine is most stable when it is in proper alignment.
Fun Fact: Adopting and respecting the natural curvature built in your low back helps reduce stress on the disc and takes pressure off of the sciatic nerve. It keeps the space where the nerve comes through nice and open so that thing can breath!
This is a "What came first, the chicken or the egg scenario?"
Following injury to the back or leading up to an injury, we begin to lose the slight curvature (hollow) that is naturally built into our lower back. We start to adopt more of a rounded low back posture. Sometimes it is very subtle and we do not even realize it.
Pain actually results in compensatory back rounding posture. "Why," you ask? ....
Now listen up because this part is important!
It is hypothesized that people actually adopt a more rounded back position after their injury (the posture that actually CAUSED their injury) because of the slight stretch placed on the lower back muscles. This subtle stretch actually provides that "feel good, relaxing" sensation that stretching provides. Which is why you are so inclined to mistakenly stretch your pain away.
Unfortunately, this posture actually puts MORE STRESS on your disc and Sciatic nerve. Keeping you in pain longer.
It is the equivalent of taking drugs. It might feel good in the moment, but it has negative consequences in the long term. So stop rounding and stretching your lower back.
The Goal: Restore the curvature (hollow) in our lower back and reduce tension in the back muscles.
Before we move on to the next section you have the option to learn a little bit more about the Science Of Why This Works. If you just want to take my word for it then continue on to the next section.
Restoring Your Curve: The Science
Jelly Donut Analogy: If we press on the front of the donut the jelly will squirt toward the back of the donut. And in some cases right out the back.
The same thing basically happens in the disc. When increased pressure is repeatedly put on the front of the disc with repeated rounding and twisting of the lower back your are more prone to disc bulges at the back of the disc. And in some cases a gel like substance will leak out the back (disc herniation). This bulge or herniation places pressure on the sciatic nerve.
On the contrary, with back extensions (arching at the back) or we help move the jelly back into the donut... I mean, into the disc!
These exercises can be a great way to get temporary relief, as well as long term relief. People will often report complete resolution of symptoms or diminishing pain down the leg with more localized pain at the back. This is normal. It is called CENTRALIZATION.
Fun Fact: Not all pain is bad. With Centralization, your pain may become more focal to the lower back but NO LONGER going down your leg or felt at your leg (or foot). This is a good sign. It means the exercise is working.
PERIPHERALIZATION would be the opposite response. This is when symptoms actually radiate further away from your spine and down your leg. If this occurs please STOP this exercise and rely on other methods that we provide for relief.
In the next couple of modules we introduce exercises for taking pressure off the Sciatic nerve by getting the jelly back into the disc!