As someone who has treated clients with back pain for some time now, I have come to believe that we lack a comprehensive understanding of our body’s structure. This, in turn, undermines our confidence in following certain principles that govern it. Unfortunately, this issue is pervasive worldwide and affects people of all ages, nationalities, and backgrounds. The persistent prevalence of back problems suggests that we have yet to find an effective solution to this pain.
Perhaps we need to approach the issue from a different perspective. Specifically, we could consider the spine as a masterpiece and examine ways to train it effectively. This may sound unusual, but what if we shifted the focus away from training our back muscles and instead prioritized the spine’s movements? By doing so, we may discover simpler and more effective ways to alleviate back pain while simultaneously improving our overall health.
The spine serves a broad range of functions, including protecting the spinal cord, providing structural support and balance, and allowing for flexibility. Additionally, the nervous system relies on the spine to transmit signals and generate sensations, and it houses all of our nerves.
When we engage in repetitive movements, whether it be sitting, training, playing, or driving, we are essentially instructing our spine to follow those movements. Consequently, our spine adapts to those movements, making them more efficient. This is great, right?
It’s important to note that when our spine adapts to specific movements, it can lead to certain muscles being overworked or underutilized, resulting in an imbalance in the back. Although exercise can aid in resolving muscle imbalances, it doesn’t address the underlying issue, which is the spine. In my opinion, even if we are able to tolerate imbalances, we’re constantly at risk and can never achieve optimal efficiency in our back. After all, it has taken millions of years for us to evolve, and there’s a reason why our bodies are structured the way they are.
So, instead of solely focusing on working out our muscles, why not take a closer look at the spine? After all, the muscles are merely assisting the spine in movement. How about training the spine itself? Even though it may be attending to the same, but it’s a different approach, and one that may be simpler to remember.
Resting our body is not just an option, but an essential if we want to maintain our strength and well-being. However, what does physical rest mean for our body, and is sleeping or sitting enough to provide proper rest for our back?
In my opinion, the answer is no. Proper rest for our spine means that it should be rested in its full length, following the curvature of the spine, like in savasana. Additionally, it needs to be elongated because we tend to compress it in our daily actions, including sitting.
Our spine is naturally oriented in a curved shape, and it needs to remain in that curve to function at its best. Unfortunately, we don’t always treat our spine with the respect it deserves. For example, when it comes to the lower back, we often change its orientation and curve it the opposite way around.
The state in which we keep our spine is often compressed. Whether we’re sitting, standing, or lying down, our spine is usually compressed to some extent.
What’s the logical solution to provide proper rest for our spine? We need to find ways to shape our spine as per its natural orientation and make it rest in its curve. We also need to find ways to restore its original length, which is shortened due to compression. Doesn’t that make sense?
Now, let’s explore some practical ways to implement the two logical conclusions we discussed earlier:
Restoring the shape of our spine: The images presented below illustrate some techniques to help restore the natural curvature of the spine.
Logical rest for compression is extension/elongation: Elongation involves stretching the spine to its full length and beyond, utilizing its flexibility and spring-like quality to lengthen. If we don’t use the spine’s springiness, we risk losing it, leading to increased pressure on the lower back discs, which can be detrimental to our health.
How does elongation of the spine help relax muscles?
When we elongate our spine, it not only stretches the spine but also creates more space in the body, allowing our muscles to rest comfortably. Additionally, when we follow the spine’s natural curve, we strengthen the lower back, which is vital to our overall well-being. So, we should work on restoring the natural arch of the lower back, which is often compromised due to its everyday use.
The picture on the left shows abdominal muscles, but they appear more relaxed. This was a fascinating insight, especially in regards to the amount of fat in the body. It appears that the muscles have gone back into their original cell.
But where did the muscle mass disappear? The muscles are relaxed, enjoying space, and not under any stress or stretch. Therefore, we can conclude that elongation not only rests the spine but also all of the muscles, which together make up a healthy back. It sounds obvious, but many people neglect to incorporate relaxation into their training schedules.
In conclusion, my mantra is this: if we understand the basic structural alignment of our back and spine, it is easier to train them. And, as with my previous posts, the broader message is about relaxation. Learn to relax your body, as it strengthens and prevents us from injuries.
Below, you will find links to two of my articles that will provide you with more insights into your back muscles and how you can restore your health by following some basic principles via simple postures shown in the articles.