At a certain point, doing nothing becomes not an option. Back pain, however mild or severe, is often the last symptom of systemic dysfunction. Tension in the surrounding musculature is always accumulating and we are very good at ignoring it. It's why you can go years with vague tightness in the neck and shoulders, or months with non-specific lower back pain, without necessarily doing anything about it. As we ignore, this tension is pulling our spines out of alignment, devastating our posture and putting untold pressure on intervertebral discs. The degeneration that is likely to result will be painful which is why we always ask: why is the standard policy to ignore, ignore, ignore.
The less we pay attention to posture, the more our spine suffers. It’s amazing how much damage is caused by sitting- in fact, it is more than damage. It contributes to a full-on restructuring of our musculoskeletal being-shortening certain muscles, letting others waste away from lack of use; all of this pulls our spine out of alignment and creates systemic tension that takes us down the road toward spinal pain and degeneration. So how do we start retraining our spines out of these horrible holding patterns? The answer starts in your very own home.
There are several joints that connect at this crucial junction between lower and upper body:
True, all of these joints need to be able to move fully (they need full range of motion), in order for you to run effectively. But this movement must also be stabilized. Without stability in the pelvis, these joints are susceptible to excessive motion, and this is where the problems begin. Think about its location: the pelvis is at the base of the spine, meaning that if this region is sliding around uncontrollably, the rest of your body is destabilized. Spinal alignment is threatened and the forces being transferred from lower to upper body while you run wreak havoc.
It is your body telling you that something is wrong- and most likely it is something to do with your lifestyle. The head is the heaviest single structure in your body, weighing between 10 and 12 pounds. In normal circumstances, this weight is being pressed downwards on the spine, creating a compression that strains intervertebral discs. The cervical spinal segment is the first section of spine to receive this compression, and the strain manifests itself in stiffness and neck pain. If you then add poor posture, like text neck, to the mix, you increase the amount of downward pressure that your head causes to your spine. Over time, cervical discs become more susceptible to this pressure and, if they succumb to it, conditions like herniated discs become a reality.
When it comes to lower back pain, the region where the spine connects to the lower body is of critical importance. There is an intricate network of muscles, structures and nerves which connect at this crucial intersection; thus, there is a lot of potential for tension, misalignment and injury to disrupt your body’s natural balance and cause pain. Today, we are going to focus on one muscle in particular that flies under the radar: the psoas.