In clinic it is not uncommon to see back pain patients for the first time who speak of their daily ritual of waking early before work for a hot shower followed with 30-60mins of stretching. Back pain sufferers speak of the relief they get from their stretching and that they could not get through the day without them.
Whilst stretching provides relief for some back pain sufferers, for others it does nothing more than create further pain. The most likely cause for this is pain derived from back structures other than just muscles, such as joints and fascia of the lower back.
For those who experience relief, stretching is a great option to aid them through the day however as most back pain sufferers clearly point out, the tension once again builds up throughout the day making them very dependent on doing them daily, often twice or more daily for some.
In this article we are going to address the reason why the tension builds up time and time again after effective stretching and more importantly what back pain sufferers can do to prevent the pain creating tension from coming back.
There are two elements to back pain:
Stretching is effective at focusing on the first element, releasing the tight and shortened muscles that pull the body out of alignment. However as the day progresses the tension soon but surely returns due the the second element, the weak and lengthened muscles placing too great a load on the tight dominate muscles causing them to shorten and contract, in turn creating pain.
This pattern repeats itself for months, years even decades with the back pain sufferer knowing no other way than their daily ritual.
As simple as this sounds, if all the back pain suffer was to do was focus on the second element, then the first element would be removed out of the equation, completely breaking the chronic back pain cycle, completely eradicating the dependance on daily stretching.
Strength is the key - not stretching. Shorten the weak postural muscles through an effective strengthen regime that would take less than an hour each week (the time most back pain sufferers spend stretching and applying heat packs to their sore backs).
By strengthening the weak postural muscles that support the back and pelvis you are ensuring that the excessive and constant load placed upon the muscles that once need to be stretched and lengthened will be removed. Once postural balance and symmetry is restored the weight and movements will be distributed evenly ensuring that your muscles are not tightening, not creating pain and more importantly not requiring you to set the alarm an hour early each day to wake up and stretch them out.
Think stretching - short term results
Think Strengthening - for long term permanent results