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How to Release Back Muscles to Reduce Chronic Pain

Updated on April 27, 2016

Low Back Pain muscle pain releif

Many thanks for the image to freedigitalphotos.net. I did very simple additions of red bolts to the original.
Many thanks for the image to freedigitalphotos.net. I did very simple additions of red bolts to the original. | Source

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!


ball size
ball size | Source
ball give, easily squeezed and soft, supportive, but very very difficult to touch finger tips together when squeezing. Will not pop.
ball give, easily squeezed and soft, supportive, but very very difficult to touch finger tips together when squeezing. Will not pop.
The curve of the spine while legs are extended. Breath and take full deep breathes while relaxing to warm up. Just getting your body to pay attention to the state of overall tension, take in full breathes of oxygen, and relax itself
The curve of the spine while legs are extended. Breath and take full deep breathes while relaxing to warm up. Just getting your body to pay attention to the state of overall tension, take in full breathes of oxygen, and relax itself
The curve of the spine while legs are bent. If you still have a very strong arch, then you likely have very tight muscles in your back and hips
The curve of the spine while legs are bent. If you still have a very strong arch, then you likely have very tight muscles in your back and hips
1. Tuck the ball under by rolling to your side, and then gently rolling back up onto the ball. Don't put the ball anywhere that is uncomfortable. If it is uncomfortable, find a good spot. The pictures are or illustration, not a "must obey" guideline.
1. Tuck the ball under by rolling to your side, and then gently rolling back up onto the ball. Don't put the ball anywhere that is uncomfortable. If it is uncomfortable, find a good spot. The pictures are or illustration, not a "must obey" guideline.
2. let your hips relax onto the ball, release your muscles and let gravity do the work for you!
2. let your hips relax onto the ball, release your muscles and let gravity do the work for you!
3. Lift your legs up, knees over you hips. There should be little to no work here, no shifting and struggling for balance, just soft, simple balance. If you need, align yourself so there is no slipping around on the ball
3. Lift your legs up, knees over you hips. There should be little to no work here, no shifting and struggling for balance, just soft, simple balance. If you need, align yourself so there is no slipping around on the ball
4. After a few minutes, or longer if you enjoy the feeling, allow your legs to drop back down.
4. After a few minutes, or longer if you enjoy the feeling, allow your legs to drop back down.
5. quickly but gently pull the ball out from under you by rolling off it as you did to roll onto it. It is important to be fast with this, as to avoid your muscles tensing when you lower back to the floor
5. quickly but gently pull the ball out from under you by rolling off it as you did to roll onto it. It is important to be fast with this, as to avoid your muscles tensing when you lower back to the floor
6. Lay down and relax, allowing your body to feel the difference in your hips and back. Is your arch less pronounced? Repeat as desired. Some may feel change immediately, others may take repeated sessions over time. Best of Luck to you!
6. Lay down and relax, allowing your body to feel the difference in your hips and back. Is your arch less pronounced? Repeat as desired. Some may feel change immediately, others may take repeated sessions over time. Best of Luck to you!

Did you find any relief with this method?

See results

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    • profile image

      Tate 4 months ago

      I can't remember how long I've been living with back pain? I can not allow anyone to massage me because it hurts so. I've tried stretching...even had a family member (chiropractor) give an adjustment. Nothing helps? Any suggestion to accompany this technique? Nothing to ingest please!

    • profile image

      John 13 months ago

      It does work. But you have to relax, and breath deep and slow.

      I have suffered with pain from damaged L3-L4 area. Same reason ,lifting incorrectly when younger.....If only we knew then what we know now!

    • profile image

      jj 2 years ago

      Good god about died getting to the solution, geez

    • mtkomori profile image

      mtkomori 6 years ago from Yokohama, Japan

      Hi ckh, thanks for your info & advice! Have you tried acupuncture for your chronic pain? The chiropractor I'm seeing now is looking to try acupuncture directly on my SI joints which is a "western style" as opposed to the traditional Chinese medicine where the needles are inserted in other areas such as your wrist and feet. Have you heard of this method before and would you know if acupuncture will alleviate pain?

    • profile image

      ckh 6 years ago

      ps I buy the jarrow brand formula of msm powder. the reason powder matters is because it becomes instantly bio available and is much more potent. No fillers or other compounds for your body to process out save a tiny bit of silicate to keep from clumping into a hard brick and drying. You can find it on amazon

    • profile image

      Ckh 6 years ago

      Try out all natural powder version of MSM, which is a sulfur extract. It is totally natural and has no side effects for long term use unless you are allergic to sulfur of course in which case don't use it. MSM will drop the inflammation in your body and is better for you than other meds. I take a scoop every morning with water. Start small and build up until it works for you for the daytime. I take msm glucosamie tabs at night, powder in the morning. Works great for inflammation. Also, for the balls, I would suggest hitting up one of the links on the page that is selling the miracle balls workout system because those are the actual genuine balls I used. I don't know quite where you would find the same ones, but probably in a health store that sells other PT implements like stretching bands and yoga mats and such. Best of luck! I understand how hard it can be to live in the gray zone of western medicine where all they can do is sustain your level of injury from worsening too wuickly, but do so by filling you with drugs that are bad for your body. The pain is something that happens to you, it is not you. Fight the good fight :)

    • mtkomori profile image

      mtkomori 6 years ago from Yokohama, Japan

      Hi, I think I will try this out. Is the ball bigger than a tennis ball? I'd need to get it at a special store,wouldn't I? Wow, 10 years of chronic back pain...I hope you find relief soon..I've had chronic back pain for 2.5 years and was finally diagnosed with SI joint dysfunction just a few months ago. I also have developed an inflammation in the SI joints so that's giving me problems. I do stretching exercises but this one looks like it would be effective. Will get back to you after I try it.