How to Release Back Muscles to Reduce Chronic Pain
Low Back Pain muscle pain releif
How to relieve low back pain from chronic pain.
I have suffered from chronic back pain for nearly ten years. My problem started when I was working in a factory stacking pallets. Forty to fifty pound boxes, four to eight hours a day, lifting when I was seventeen years old. It wasn't long before I tore my lumbar muscle on the right hand side. Had I the foresite then to understand just how life altering my injury would become, I would have received some type of compensation for my injury. That said, I wasn't smart enough then, and I haven't landed a PHD, or an M.D. after my name since, so do not substitute this advice for that of a trained professional practitioner.
Now, I was a factory working seventeen year old. I played in a rock band jumping off stages. I fought the pain long and hard, for ten years now as it since has degraded into a condition of chronic arthritis, sacroiliitis, degenerative disc disease, and bulging l4/l5 discs. So when I tell you that these following things are possible if you don't take care of yourself and your injury, I hope you will listen. It has taken me walking this long hard road to figure this stuff out.
Things you will need to perform this home process
- about ten minutes
- a small rehabilitation ball/yoga ball, the size of a soft ball.
The hard reality for those with chronic pain is that because no one can see your injury, it is often forgotten by everyone but the sufferer. Even family and loved ones do not understand the weight of carrying such an intense, fatiguing, soak all the energy out of your body so you don't even want to get out of bed anymore feeling.
The physical pain becomes a mental pain as your body fights to defend itself from what it believes to be a continuous threat. We know that our body is permanently injured, but our body thinks it must repair the injury. As we exhaust our body with a never ending battle, depression often becomes associated with chronic pain. From depression comes an emotional pain, a "how did I wind up here?". or "How did my life end up like this? Just a short while ago I had all the doors open... and now I can barely get through my front door!" feeling. And often, even long after our bodies have coped with the injury, and we have developed copping mechanisms for how the physical pain has trapped us, the emotional pain becomes a psychological pain.
The psychological pain is our "auto pilot" subconscious voice that speaks to us even while we are not listening. With a constant chronic injury, our underlying message is "pain, alarm, warning, pain, fight or flight?flight! flight! Ouch! Pain!". Unfortunately, when we put our hand on a hot stove, we can pull it away and our fight or flight response has worked. But, with an internal chronic injury, our fight or flight response cannot "pull our hand out of the fire" so to speak. So our subliminal mind is constantly telling us that things are not ok, and feeding our basic thoughts and interactions on a diet of unhealthy, pain filled, "don't do this, don't do that messages" that cause pain and overall stress.
So the first part of this process for stopping some of the pain has to do with getting our body back into the rhythm of breathing properly. When we feel pain, its coming from a couple places. One of those places is stress, because stress has a direct relationship to how tight our muscles are.
Who hasn't had a terrible stressful day, and then come home and had a great shoulder massage that just melted that tightness away? Stress is a very real thing. And when your body is in pain, it is giving you stress. Stress tightens your muscles. So now you have pain tightening your muscles, and stress making them tighter. Sound like a bad thing? It gets worse! Strap in! Because when you have tight muscles, you don't breathe properly. And this tightens your muscles up even further. Imagine that Oxygen is the purest form of relaxation for your muscles. A paramedic hitting someone with an oxygen mask will calm them right down thanks to the pure oxygen.
So you need to breathe again. I mean deep, full breathes. Most of us chronically only breathe with our upper chest. When we breathe with our diaphragm, we are taking in full breathes and feel our stomachs raise, and our backs fill with our rib cage pressing slightly out. This is providing a more proper amount of oxygen.
Here is the beginning of this very simple process for getting a bit of relief. I have done many things to get relief, but this is one very simple and fast process that I have picked up that has helped. There are many successful methods to use the balls, and one of the most advanced on the subject that I know of is Elaine Petrone, although I am sure there are other systems out there.
Simply letting yourself take in deep, full breaths is key to allowing our bodies to relax. A side of effect of deep breathe is dizziness, so to balance out the amount of oxygen with output, let out a "Ssssssssssss!" sound, loud as you can, while you breathe out. This will help you balance out against becoming very dizzy, or yawning, or eyes watering. All these things are potential, so keep them in mind. They are all responses to an increase in oxygen. Pay attention to the area of pain. When you breath, focus and concentrate on sending the oxygen there. Because pain has tensed the muscles, we don't actually feel the muscles very often. We only feel the pain. So by actively paying attention to the muscles, and mentally focusing on sending the oxygen there, we are becoming aware of the area and feeling it again. This is very important, because part of muscle pain is often the result of muscles being neglected due to our natural avoidance of injured areas.
Next, you will need to lay down on the ground, and you will need a very small work out/yoga ball. There are pictures below this that give step by step instructions. Preferably if you can find a small, very strong skinned ball that is still quite soft and easy to give against, it will be ideal. Tennis balls and strong medicine balls will be far too hard for this.
When you lay down on the ground, let your legs lay out straight. Breath and relax. Slide your hand under your low back. Notice there is an arch there in your lower back. This arch is where your lumbar muscles pull tight and tense with straight legs. Now bend your knees, feet still on the floor. Relax. Notice the arch has softened. When you bend your legs, the arch has released some, because there is less stress and tension pulling on your lumbar muscles. Getting these muscles to stay relaxed in their normal, supple state as opposed to the rigid, painful, stressed, tightened state they have been in is key to pain release.
Here we will slide the small ball underneath the tailbone gently by leaning to the side. The point of this exercise is to actually NOT exercise at all. We are going to completely let go of our muscles against the give of the ball. By simply letting our weight and gravity work against the ball, our muscles will release their tension. By releasing tension, we will release some of our pain.
The natural arch shape of our low back is what we want to gently create the opposite of. Placing the ball gently under the tailbone and bending our knees lets us create a gentle pull, as if we are pulling from the tailbone away from our lumbar back. This is a slight elongation, allowing a bit more space between our vertebrae.
Now, simply relax. You don't need to fight the ball, or tense muscles, or do anything on the ball. Simply lay there and let your muscles push down with natural gravity. If the feeling is too intense, try two balls, on one each side of the tailbone for more stabilization. If at any point you feel pain, or anything other then simply relaxing, letting your body weight give into the ball, allowing you muscles to relax and melt over the next five minutes or so, then stop immediately. You should feel nothing but your calm, full diaphragm breathing and your muscles giving into gravity against the ball as you relax.
To increase the exercise, you may lift your knees up gently so that they are directly above your hips. If you are having a hard time balancing on the ball and you are engaging muscles to stay balanced, then this is wrong. Simply start over, reposition the ball in a place that makes it easier for you to stay upright, and resume. You should not have to use any muscles intensively. Remember to breathe, "Ssssssssssssssss!" on your outward breathes.
Over the next five minutes or so, your body will realize that it is not in any danger, and your muscles will begin to auto release. In combination with your breathing, this will relax your body. This relaxation will allow your muscles to re-balance themselves slightly. Muscles that have been tightened for a very long time are rigid, and weak from lack of use. Allowing them to become lean, and relaxed and supple, will bring them back into the whole body conversation.
When you are nice and relaxed, put your feet down, lean over, and QUICKLY pull the ball out so that you do not engage your muscles in the low back/hips region. Lay down flat with your legs extended and relax, breathing. You should be able to notice that, if even slightly, the arch in your lower back has lessened some in its natural state.
To gain the benefit of this procedure, it may require several attempts. Some people feel relief immediately, while others have to continue for a week or so before noticing any benefit. Everyone's body/injury is different.
Repeat this as often as you like, for as long as you like!