Can you believe it’s already June?? Time hasn't felt quite the same recently. Is that just me?
Summer is in full force, which means everyone has gotten back outside to enjoy the beautiful (and today, HOT) Colorado weather. But with your return to biking, hiking, or gardening... especially after months of staying indoors on the couch.... you might be noticing a few new (or returning) aches and pains.
The past week I've talked to so many people calling to say their back has “flared up” again or they just can’t enjoy their favorite outdoor activities like they used to without popping pain killers.
Because so maybe people are suffering from debilitating back pain right now - maybe that's you, or maybe you have a friend you can share this with - I wrote you this blog with some simple tips to help ease those aches and pains.
Back pain is something you never think will happen to YOU... until it does!
You’re going about your day without concern. Then suddenly… you feel a twinge in your back and you know immediately that something is not right.
Your first thought is that it’s nothing and that it will go away on its own. You probably blame a poor night’s sleep or a muscle strain from doing chores around the house. The truth is when back pain “just happens out of nowhere” most of us have no idea or explanation to why. When it strikes, it leaves you suffering for longer than you ever imagined!
What do you do when the pain suddenly stops you in your tracks? Most people do one of two things:
1. Nothing... and hope the pain “goes away” by the next morning.
2. Resort to pain pills every few hours for days!
Neither of these are good options nor do they address the root cause of the pain.
So let’s talk about it – there are so many different ways of finding pain relief other than pain pills or rest. I want to share some options with you that I teach my clients all the time so you can find relief NATURALLY— without relying on pain killers!
My first tip to help ease back pain is to avoid sitting with your legs crossed. Look around, we all do it. However, this causes strain on your back as you twist and turn your hips and spine. Sit straight with both of your feet placed on the floor slightly in front of your knees. This will help relieve pressure on the spine.
Another easy one to fix is your sleeping position! Do you sleep on your stomach? This is the worst possible position to sleep in with back pain and it will prevent you from getting better… Avoid this position at all costs and you will sleep better and wake up with less back pain.
On the topic of sleep, try sleeping on your side with a pillow between your knees and a small hand towel rolled up under your waist. This might be difficult to get used to at first, but if you can keep doing it, it decreases the amount of twisting and sagging of your spine. And if you sleep on your back, try placing a pillow or yoga bolster under your knees to reduce the tension in your lower back.
Your core muscles are a huge part of your spinal anatomy and are very important when it comes to managing back pain. If we don’t use our core with day to day activities and protect our back, we’re likely to experience more aches and pains further on down the road. Pilates can be a great tool for learning how to correctly engage and strengthen your deep core muscles.
In the same way that you brush your teeth twice a day to look after them, you need to look after your back. Try incorporating these simple daily routines to help ease and live with less back pain.
I can’t promise you that ALL these things will work for you, but I do know these tips have been proven to help my patients (and myself) to reduce the risk of back pain! If someone you know is suffering from back pain, please pass this information on to them as these tips will help!
For More Tips Download Our Free Back Pain Report!
When it comes to the CORE, most of us need to go back to the basics.
This is especially for YOU if you're athletic...
You have probably heard of the core and been told that it should be a part of your workout routine... right? I find this to be true for the most of the people I see. Everyone is aware that they need to add core strengthening or ab workouts into their life. However, most of them are doing exercises that are not beneficial (that’s for another post) and might even be harming them in the long run....
So we’ve heard about the core and we know we should do something about it...
But do we truly know what it is, why it's important, how to connect to it, and what is the most effective way to strengthen it?
As a physical therapist and pilates instructor I have a lot of people coming to me for low back pain, running injuries, pelvic floor dysfunction, and shoulder or knee injuries.... and the common factor with MOST of these clients is that they have some sort of dysfunction with their “core”. And usually it starts with a lack of knowing what the core actually involves (hint: it's not your six pack), and how to truly connect with it…
"What do you mean, don’t I just crunch??” Um, no.
Ok, so what is the core?
The core consists of four muscle groups: your diaphragm, your transverse abdominis, your pelvic floor, and the muscles along your spine called the multifidi. Together these all work together and form a cylinder-like system, kind of like a soda can. This is your inner core.
Your inner core system is responsible for regulating your intra-abdominal pressure as well as providing support, control, and stability to the spine and pelvis. In other words, this system is protecting you and preventing you from getting injured or suffering from back pain, hip pain, even knee or ankle pain.
And because most of us aren’t aware of the inner core, our brain isn't telling it to do it’s job... at least not well. This results in other muscles jumping in to “help out” and provide extra stability and support when those core muscles aren’t. And this is no good - this compensation just leads to poor form, overworking certain muscles (maybe that “tightness” that you are feeling), and eventually... pain.
Ok so I hear you already asking, “Why should I care about this, I’m doing just fine with my workouts/running/daily activities?”
Everything might be all fine and good now, but months or years from now all of this compensation may catch up to you. I like to think of it as the foundation of a house... if you have a massive crack in the foundation you would really never know... you could continue making it pretty with a new roof, fresh paint, beautiful landscaping, etc. Then one day, out of the blue, your basement walls come crumbling down. All the time, money, and effort you put in has now gone to waste. All because (unknowingly) you were ignoring a major underlying issue that would have been very easily spotted by a home inspector or contractor and thus could have been dealt with appropriately, avoiding all of this.
If you have even minor back pain, hip “tightness”, any other aches or pains, had a baby, or had abdominal surgery.... there is a high likelihood you have a crack in your foundation.
So what do you do about it? I recommend seeing a licensed physical therapist for an evaluation to help you determine if there are any red flags present that could lead to an injury in the future and to check to see how well you are able to “connect to your core”. They will then get you back on track as well as provide you with the education and tools to prevent anything happening in the future.
At Empower PT & Pilates, we offer a Free Discovery Session to get you started. No commitment needed - we just want to help you down the right path to staying injury-free and active lifelong.
Have questions you want answered? Comment below, chat with us, or fill out this form to schedule a free 15 minute phone call with a PT!
Over 80% of people will experience back pain at some point in their lives. And many of those people will have recurring episodes of back pain. The pain subsides, they think they’re out of the woods and then 6 months later it comes back. And then it goes away….and then only 3 months later it comes back and now it’s not going away so fast. And so on and so on.
And the person gets increasingly frustrated each time the pain comes back and now they worry about it happening just about every day. They can’t enjoy the active lifestyle they once had because either they physically can’t do those things anymore or even if they can, they are afraid it will cause the pain to come back.
So why does the pain go away for a while and then come back?
Here are the 5 reasons I have come across most often in my 10+ years of treating athletes and active people:
1. You Haven't Actually Done Anything to Fix the Problem..
This is by far the most common reason people’s back pain cycles on and off. When I meet people and tell them what I do for a living (physical therapist), so many people go on to tell me about their back pain and how it’s annoying, frustrating, etc. And when I ask them what they have done for it, the typical response is nothing… or they've just been taking pain meds!
How can you expect your pain problem to get better if all you do for it is say a prayer at night and hope it will go away on its own!?
And the more people have talked to me about their back problem (really any problem), I realize that a lot of people choose not to do anything because they simply don’t know which of the many options out there is the best choice for them. And they’re afraid of making the wrong decision or confused about where to start. So instead, they live in this paralyzing state of indecision and continued pain that limits their active lifestyle.
This is why I set up my clinic to offer a few different free options to help people BEFORE they commit to us. It’s a way for people to learn what they can do for their problem and see what option works best for them.
Ready to actually doing something about it? Inquire About Cost & Availability.
2. Past Treatment(s) Didn't Address the Underlying Issue
Have you received some form of treatment in the past for your back pain, only for that pain to come back later?
There's a good chance that the treatment you received (i.e. injections, medications, unspecific/rushed PT, etc.) only took care of the symptoms (your pain) and didn't address the underlying reason for your problem.
It's like having someone help you bail water out of your sinking ship versus having someone help you plug the hole. It's the difference between constantly having to worry about it happening again and being able to enjoy the things you love to do without worry.
3.You Didn't Follow Through With Your Treatment Plan and/or "Homework"
There are times when someone is getting great treatment that is working on the underlying cause, but when they start to feel much better, they decide to stop the treatment plan early...and a few months later they're back in with a "flare-up." And this "flare-up" may have been avoided had they seen their treatment plan all the way through and not quit just when the pain went away. Remember, addressing the underlying issue is key!
Other times, people don't do their physical therapy "homework" - the tips and advice given to them to do on their own time. If you see us 2 x week for an hour each time, that's only 2% of your entire week. What you do in the other 98% will have a HUGE effect on your outcome.
4. You Progressed Your Activity Level Too Quickly
Another classic reason for someone's back pain to come back... they start feeling a lot better so they decide that a 10 mile bike ride is okay to do... even though they haven't ridden in a couple months. Or they're feeling good because they're finally back to their at home workouts... and they decide the "boot camp" class that's free on youtube is a great idea. Or a friend asks them to do a charity 5k with them... I men, it's for charity so it's got to be ok, right!?
You're probably chuckling right now... not because the examples are that funny, but because you know you've been guilty of this too.
I understand that when the pain starts to go away, you get excited to do the things you love again. Our job is to help you make sure your activity level makes sense with your treatment plan - both short and long-term.
Arrange a Free Phone Conversation with a Physical Therapist
5. The Rest of Your Life Isn't Healthy
You don't sleep well. You're stressed. You work too much. You don't eat well. You get the idea...
All these things play a role in your recovery and can affect your expected outcome - both the amount of relief expected and the time it will take to get that relief. We're here to help you find ways to live a healthier lifestyle year long, life long... not just for 3 weeks! Here at Empower, we're all about results that LAST.
So there you have it - the 5 most common reasons back pain comes back. I hope this article is able to help you make a better decision for your health and if you think a friend or family member would benefit from reading this (or needs to read it), feel free to forward it to them.
Let's work toward results that LAST.
P.S. Join us for a FREE Virtual Back Pain Workshop on Wednesday June 10th 2020 at 6pm! You can save your spot here - limited availability, so don't wait... we will see you then!
What are the 3 things you MUST have to
sport healthy joints and live pain-free & injury-free?
Without one or more of these you are at a greater risk of pain, stiffness, and injury....
Let me explain...
Flexibility is the full length of a muscle when stretched to end range (think how far you can stretch your hamstring). This is forced.
Stability is a joint’s ability to stay put when outside forces are acting upon it. Think of this as your ability to control your movement, like balancing on one leg with perfect alignment with zero swaying or ankle wobble.
Mobility is how much a joint (bone to bone) can move before being restricted by the surrounding tissue such as tendons, muscle, ligaments, and fascia. Mobility is moving your shoulder in a circle or your ability to move your hip freely. Unlike flexibility, this is not forced movement.
Now that you know what each one is…
Why are they important??
Well, they all affect each other. If we don’t have good stability we may lose our mobility. And despite what you may have been told... simply stretching will not improve your mobility. So yoga and only yoga will not keep you injury free... and in fact might even CAUSE injury.
We need all 3 to move and function at our best.
“True flexibility can be achieved only when all muscles are uniformly developed.” - Joseph Pilates
Does your fitness or workout routine focus on ALL THREE?
Does the treatment you are receiving for your back, knee, or shoulder work on ALL 3 of these?
Most likely not…
The focus on all mobility, stability AND flexibility in a holistic way is usually a HUGE missing component in many exercise/fitness routines AND even in some health and wellness treatments.
Here at Empower, when we treat an injury we focus first on making it feel better with mobility (massage, dry needling, adjustments, joint mobilizations, etc. Then we add flexibility (dynamic stretching exercises) and then we MUST teach this area to protect itself going forward, which is stability. This combination is what gets YOU lasting benefits.
Many treatment styles or methods only focus on one, maybe two of these components.
And the one that gets left out is usually STABILITY.
Stability is the control and protection of a joint, and we need this protection in order to stay pain and injury free.
Our joints need stability to feel SAFE.
If they don’t feel safe then, to compensate, we often sacrifice our mobility and flexibility to simulate that safety.
So that stiffness you feel (aka your lack of mobility) may actually be a stability issue - and it's not going to get any better if your trainer just keeps making you do mobility drills over and over and over again.
This is why the combination of working with an expert Physical Therapist and a certified Pilates-based rehab specialist is one of the best ways to improve overall movement, function, and physical health.
So if you’re constantly foam rolling and/or stretching and not getting anywhere...you might be missing an essential component.
If that weekly or monthly massage or chiropractic adjustment feels great but is only giving you temporary relief….you might be missing an essential component.
You may require expert help to figure out what other healthcare providers couldn’t do for you.
But here's the good news - with the right help, you will no longer have to deal with these injuries on an ongoing basis.
I help hundreds of people each year find and fix that missing component and get them back to better health and movement. By looking at the body more holistically and focusing not just on the symptoms but on the ROOT CAUSE of your problem, I'm able to get you lasting results.
If you want to know if I can help you, apply for a Free Discovery Session here.
This is a 30 minute visit with an expert PT to help get you started on your road to recovery - and, even better, we can do a VIRTUAL video call in order to get you started this week.
You've been dealing with this for too long already. It's time. Call us today.
Or join our next 8 week Pilates series - all about creating the perfect balance of stability, mobility, and flexibility to help you improve your posture. You'll stand TALL & PROUD & stop having to worry about your low back pain in the middle of the night. Join us!
Are you suffering from lower back pain? Maybe you've recently started working from home and are spending long hours sitting in your dining room chair... Whether it's a new discomfort or something that's been bothering you for years, lower back pain affects most people at some point in their lives. In a majority of cases, lower back pain can be significantly reduced or completely relieved with Pilates.
Nagging back pain can come at any age, and far too many of us are familiar with it. In fact, 8 out of 10 Americans will experience an episode of lower back pain at some point in their lives. It is one of the most common reasons for missed work and back pain sufferers are spending an average of nearly $3,000 a year in the U.S. on top of other medical expenses to try to combat it... and most of the time, they aren't getting any relief.
The good news is that most back pain isn't caused by a serious medical condition, but rather by everyday habits like poor posture, exercise, or simply sitting too much. And it can be easily managed by physical therapy and Pilates.
A combination of deep abdominal strengthening, postural awareness, and dynamic stretching exercises makes Pilates extremely effective in the prevention and treatment of lower back pain. However, it is also important to apply the techniques taught in Pilates into your everyday life. (You can read more about the many other benefits of Pilates here.)
The Pilates exercises below will help you to connect with your deep core muscles so they can begin supporting your back again and remove any added strain. To really feel a difference, you’ll want to do this routine 3-4 times a week consistently.
IMPORTANT: when dealing with any pain, it is always best to consult a physical therapist to get to the root cause of the problem before starting a program like this on your own.
Remember to go slowly and gently, and always listen to your body—you should never do anything that hurts!
If any of these moves do hurt or you don’t feel like you’re doing them correctly, I suggest you take advantage of our Free Discovery Session (now offered virtually!). We specialize in back pain and Pilates-based rehab and can help you discover exactly what is causing your pain in order to help you learn to move correctly.
Cat, Cow & Tail Wag
The Roll Down
Single leg stretch (prep exercise)
Looking for individualized Pilates instruction tailored specifically to YOU and your body?
Ask us today if you're the right fit for a 30 minute (free!) Pilates taster with a certified Pilates instructor. Now available virtually so that we can meet you where you are!
Pilates is one exercise that can really make a difference in your health without taking a toll on your body.
Pilates is a form of exercise involving a series of movements that concentrate on core strength, posture, balance, flexibility, and control. Pilates was developed by German-born Joseph Pilates, who believed mental and physical health were closely connected, and practicing Pilates has been proven to improve overall wellbeing as well as general fitness.
Here are just a few of the benefits and reasons why Pilates could transform your health
If you said “YES, I WANT THAT!” to any of these or all of these, then Pilates and working with our specialists just may be for you.
Apply for our Free Pilates Taster and discover how Pilates can help you reach your goals. Or give us a call 720-722-0685 or email email@example.com with any questions.
Got something you’re going to enjoy today…
(Be sure to read the P.S section too… you won’t want to skip that part!)
So anyway, did you know that research shows that regular Pilates can ward off aches and pains, help us stay sharp, active and vibrant well into our 60’s, 70’s and beyond?
Now I don’t know what your thoughts are on Pilates… You might think they’re a ‘fad’, for the young and bendy, and maybe something aimed purely at ‘women’…
Well, that’s definitely not the case!
The thing is Pilates is for absolutely ANYONE.
Regardless of age, fitness ability and even gender – anyone can do it, and I strongly urge you to as well!
A few months ago I remember recommending one of my client Sharon, 61, of Arvada to take up the activities herself to help with her lower back pain…
And you know what, Sharon has gone to Pilates twice a week, every week since!
So, let me tell you why you should consider doing these activities too, and then maybe like my client Sharon, you can also ease your back pain, or even reduce the risk of it from creeping up on you…
Pilates is a simple yet effective exercise routines that can be done by anyone, at any age. And with our guidance, it’s safe for even those dealing with nagging aches or pains.
And the best thing?…
Pilates is low impact and isn’t designed to be ‘strenuous’, which means you can do them at your own pace without breaking a sweat.
However, IT WILL challenge your body in ways you’ve never imagined, perfect for keeping your joints moving and free from pain.
As well as also being a great stress reliever, these exercises will help you to build flexibility and strength at the same time, strengthening your core – which is essential to holding on to good posture as you get older.
Why don’t you give it a go?…
It may seem a bit strange at first if you’ve never tried these types of exercises before… but for most people who do it (and just like my client Sharon), after they’ve done it for 6 weeks, they’re hooked, and it becomes a real healthy habit that you can easily stick to.
And well, when it’s the best way to slow down the effects of aging, like stiffness and pain, why would you not give it a try??
Even better, we offer a Free Pilates Taster for you to come in and meet with one of our specialized Pilates instructors to see if it's right for you and to make sure you love it! We will also help you figure out the best place to get started.
Our private and small group classes are designed to guide you through safe and effective movements where you will never feel lost or unsure if you are things correctly. Perfect for those that just end up in more pain after working out.
It’s extremely popular among people just like you intending to live with less back pain, less stiffness, to move easier and to simply feel GREAT inside and out.
For more tips like this on how to live with less back pain, visit here to download your free report: 7 Simple Ways To End Back Pain & Stiffness WITHOUT Taking Painkillers Or Having To See Your Doc!
Or check out our next Aging Strong Workshop and learn Dr. Casey’s best secrets to staying young and free and pain and stiffness!
P.S Did you miss the part where you can test out Pilates for FREE??
Dr. Casey Murphy is the Founder of Wheat Ridge’s Leading Specialist Physical Therapy and Pilates Rehab Practice for People in their 40’s, 50’s and 60’s+, who want to keep healthy and active. You may know of Casey for her ability to keep people free from painkillers, injections, and surgery and find LASTING solutions to problems such as back, hip and knee pain, as well as pelvic floor problems. Her mission is to keep people from being sidelined from life and get them back to doing the things they love. Dr. Murphy is also certified in Pilates and teaches rehab Pilates classes as well as utilizes her training to assist in recovery and regaining motor control and stability.
Empower PT & Pilates
We help you find a LASTING SOLUTION to back, hip, and pelvic issues so you can age with ease -without having to rely on painkillers, injections, or surgery!
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