"I've been told to sit less, stand and walk more. But why does it still hurt?!”
You may have heard it before..."sitting is the new smoking and too much of it causes back pain." But what if other activities like standing while cooking in the kitchen, walking for longer than 10 minutes, or even trying to do a gentle yoga class might leave you in more pain, and even more frustrated?
"Why is this happening to me?”
Not sitting and moving more are regarded as 'good back habits'. But for some people, it is the opposite, where sitting may actually help you feel better. This is common for people who suffer from something called 'Lumbar Stenosis'...
What is stenosis?
Different to another common back injury known as a 'disc herniation', people with stenosis often find more relief while sitting and bending forward. Degeneration at your spine can create compression on the nerves coming out of your back. Left untreated, it can lead to even more permanent nerve damage, which can cause loss of feeling, strength, and mobility in your legs.
That sounds serious... can it get better without surgery?
ABSOLUTELY YES! But it will NOT improve by simply waiting or pushing through your pain. It starts with education and understanding how something that sounds so threatening can truly be dealt with.
How does it get better?
Most people (doctors included) make the critical MISTAKE of placing too much emphasis on imaging such as X-rays and MRI's. This can be MISLEADING, because it does NOT properly measure your body's true MOBILITY. I’ve seen hundreds of people who were able to restore 60% to 80% of their range of motion with proper care!
How is this possible?
We get your WHOLE body to move and function, not just your back. People who suffer from chronic back stiffness are falsely led to believe their problem is coming JUST from their lower back. Working towards improving the mobility in OTHER parts of your body can significantly improve your overall function!
Take for example ‘Mike’, a 62-year-old man I've been working with recently:
He was extremely frustrated, and just wanted to do the simple things in life like hiking and standing in the kitchen. X-rays revealed he had stenosis and his doctor said it was permanent and he needed to accept it. He was given meds and injections to 'manage his pain', and was staring down a potential back surgery down the line, since nothing seemed to be working...
So how was he able to turn it all around, and restore 75% of his mobility... By focusing on improving the health of OTHER parts of his body:
- Loosen Up Tight Hips: Years of driving and sitting at his desk caused muscle tightness which 'pulled' on his back. Getting rid of this tension took tremendous strain OFF his back when he tried to stand!
- Unlocking A Chronic Stiff Upper Back: A lack of mobility here really limited his ability to 'rotate' his trunk. Tackling this area with hands on techniques and exercise really alleviated a TON of pressure OFF his low back while walking.
- Restoring Muscle Imbalances: Poor posture and pain lead to overuse of some muscle groups versus others. We taught him how to move 'properly' so he would not overuse his back when doing simple exercise or chores around the house.
And as a result, Mike can now… go on 8-mile hikes and stand in the kitchen for 2 hours at a time. He wakes up each morning with significantly LESS back stiffness and a renewed sense of energy. Last but not least, he feels more confident with his movement than he has in over 10 years!
Back pain and injuries come in a VARIETY of forms, which is why I do NOT believe there will ever be a 'universal fix' for back pain. In the case of 'Lumbar Stenosis', there could still be a HUGE potential for you to improve your mobility. Taking a full-body approach aimed at taking tension and strain OFF your low back is your best chance at beating this thing WITHOUT surgery!