Quite often when discussing where we will work during our treatment, people are surprised that I’ll be working an area that doesn’t hurt. For example, when coming in with low back pain, it’s uncommon for me not to include hamstrings (back of thigh) and glutes (buttocks) to the treatment. Try stretching out your hamstrings to see if you get relief. My favourite way is to lie on your back, bringing one leg up to your chest and holding it behind the knee. Flex your toes and try to put your toes behind your head (you won’t come anywhere close, don’t worry!). You will find your leg shakes a little, this is good. Hold it for at least a minute, breathe into it, and keep your neck and shoulders relaxed. The goal isn’t to have a straight leg, so expect to see your knee remain slightly bent. Don’t do this stretch if you feel any pain in your low back.
Not all low back pain is the same though. Someone who stands all day and has low back pain might be locking their knees (hyperextending) and will find their calves are also quite sore. Releasing the calf muscles and low back tension is great, but the real work comes with learning to keep your knees slightly bent when standing.
Yet another source of low back pain might be coming from your stomach muscles. This is another reason we ask what you do for a living or what types of exercise you like to do in your spare time. We don’t all hold our bodies in the same positions through the day and night (yes, sleeping curled up in a ball might account for that low back pain). Knowing the full picture means we can hone in on the source of the problem that much quicker.
Neck and arms are another area that surprise people. An achy feeling that goes all the way into the fingers or stops at the wrist often indicates the back of the shoulder but aching along the arm can also come from the side of your neck in a group of muscles called scalenes. They’re a bit trickier to stretch, but keeping your neck and shoulders relaxed will help a lot.
Often with muscle pain it’s a little from column A and a little from column B when figuring out the cause of the discomfort. We’ll check out the obvious sources of pain and if that doesn’t address it, we’ll dig a little deeper (no pun intended). It might surprise you the connections your body makes and I find it fascinating how areas are linked.