As originally published by Halston Media:
Should you ask that question to any one of the millions of American sufferers, you may find yourself in a fight. Of course experiencing pain in the back is a real phenomenon. But, is the site of pain really the root of the problem? Or is it merely a symptom of something else? I have treated thousands of patients suffering from back pain, and find that in a majority of cases where no actual back injury has occurred, the pain found is really translating from another place. The back basically becomes the “landing pad” for other functional asymmetries that translate and find their way to a place of convenience – the back. For example, someone with a poor walking and/or running pattern may find that incorrect foot strike, ground contact and landing will lend to pain associated near the lumbar spine. People with poor thoracic mobility may force their lumbar spine (otherwise equipped to remain stable) into dangerous movement in order to compensate for the lack of the thoracic mobility. In any instance, investigating the cause of the back pain should remain paramount. I’ve seen factors ranging from lower extremity tightness, medial hamstring control or poor trunk stability (common) up and through neurological impairments and/or disruptions in one’s kinetic chain (complex) leading to severe back pain. In cases of kinetic disruption (meaning how one’s anatomy fails to appropriately utilizes their musoloskeletal system in performing certain movements), we also have to examine the likelihood of motor units that control muscles not appropriately “firing” or “turning on” in order to set the necessary sequence of musculature in motion.
My friend, Guy Massi – Director of Operations, Athletic & Curricular Development for Massi-Machado Strength & Conditioning (Peekskill, NY) has been offering clients the “Brake Your Back” program (as in putting a halt to back pain) and recently offered the following comments regarding back pain, “We get both athletes and fitness clients that report having suffered from some sort of back pain in given activity. We immediately start looking for tell tales cues, and most of the time find that they lack trunk stability, have weak spinal erectors, etc. – the common stuff. However, a lot of the time and because of their related demands we will find that they have serious motor unit deficits that cause ‘skipping’. By this I mean, some of the motor units in their associated musculature is not ‘lighting up’ and thereby skipping over critical sets of muscles required to assist in their movement. A lot of the time we find these deficits within the gluteal chain, but really it could be anywhere along a related kinetic chain and ultimately find a home by bedding down in the back as it begins to compensate. At that juncture we begin to work on it thru proven protocols and refer to a physical therapist, chiropractor and medical doctor to perform more comprehensive testing.”
In realizing that back pain may be a “condition” that could be experienced by all at some time in life, whether temporary or protracted, a comprehensive intervention focusing on the cause of the pain should be employed. Staying healthy through professionally guided exercise and interventions is more necessary then ever for athletes, work-place professionals and everyone in between.