Low back pain affects over 80% of us at some point in our lives and it causes more global disability than any other condition. In 1990, there were 58.2 million people globally suffering from low back pain. The number increased to 83 million as of 2010 (1, 2). The latest estimates suggest that the number is very close to surpassing the 100 million mark. Considering the above statistics, it is clearly why this issue can’t be overemphasized or discussed.
Sadly, like in the treatment of other health issues today, resolving low back pain is usually symptom-based. First, the pain develops and then we begin to diminish and manage the symptoms with medications, injections and rest. Then after several weeks, months or even years, it is common that the doctor gives us two options namely; surgery or physiotherapy.
At this point, the patient is already frustrated and chooses the operation due to the fact that he/she thinks it’s the fastest and easiest way out. Also, at this point after months of chronic inflammation, the situation actually requires operative means instead of short term physical therapy and functional self-care education which should be the first thing to consider before taking the first pain pill.
So, the therapy chain today is usually incorrect and together with synthetic medication, those are probably the main reasons for developing the chronic vicious cycle of low back pain. However, there are also a few other common errors that make this condition so “difficult” to treat.
Fuelling the body
The first issue that we ourselves are responsible for is the fuel that we nourish our bodies with. Even the best physiotherapist, osteopath, chiropractor or any highly educated manual therapist can’t resolve our low back pain issues in the long run if we malnourish our bodies. By malnourishment, I mean the consumption of all the processed food. Processed fat and sugar, pasteurized, hormone-full and homogenized dairy products as well as processed grains are the basis of many diets today.
Real food is essential in curing any chronic disorder. Real food is the natural staff that the mother earth designed for us to thrive i.e. water and fresh fruits, berries, vegetables, nuts and seeds.
Without these nutrients and liquids, our bodies simply don’t respond to therapies. Also, our bodies can’t heal themselves naturally after trauma. After any trauma or physical strain, the body signals us with pain and movement restrictions as it’s normal protective maneuver however, lack of water and poor nutrition usually makes the protective maneuver prolonged leading to chronic dysfunction.
Therefore, the first thing to do if we wish to get rid of prolonged low back dysfunction is to begin to nourish our bodies with pure water and natural nutrients in the form of real whole food. The most essential foods that you should feed your body with after the first signals like pain or movement limitations are experienced are listed in below. Basically, you will be fine if you consume dark leafy greens, bananas, citrus fruits, some nuts and seeds.
- High amounts of pure water (to maximize the effect, add some lime or lemon into every glass you drink).
- Potassium (Bananas, tomatoes, spinach, avocado, nuts, fish, dried plums and apricots).
- Magnesium (Bananas, dark leafy greens (i.e. spinach, kale), nuts and seeds, avocado, fish and raw cacao).
- Omega 3’s (fish especially fatty fish like salmon, chia seeds, flax seeds, walnuts, avocados, spinach, soy beans and canola oil (unprocessed vegetable oils also contain omega 3’s).
- Vitamin C (dark leafy greens (especially broccoli), strawberries, acid fruits like oranges, lime, lemon and kiwi)
Optimizing the pelvic and low back posture
A patient goes to the doctor and gets sent to the x-ray. This is the primary protocol in treating severe and chronic low back condition. The greatest misdiagnoses after an x ray is carried out include; “spine degeneration” or “arthritis” of the low back. These diagnoses are also the most unspecified and usually given when nothing specific is actually found from x-rays.
Other general “diagnoses” include; disc displacements, sciatica and spondylolisthesis. All the previous disorder definitions are as a result of poor pelvic and lumbar (low back area) posture leading to chronic nerve impingements and inflammations. This posture is characterized as anteriorly tilted pelvis where the low back is swayed. This incorrect posture is as a result of simple tightness and shortening of one or several of the two main muscles controlling the area: buttocks muscles (gluteal area) or the hip flexors (iliopsoas muscles). In addition, the transverse abdominal muscles are “out of order” or inactivated due to the issue. This muscle is the main muscle in keeping the pelvis and low back in proper posture and stability.
Remember that this tightness can’t be resolved in any way if the body nourishment isn’t in order. However, if the body is hydrated and nutrient-rich, the tightness usually resolves by natural manners. If not, massage (or self-massage by foam roller), stretching or better yet (a combination) should be applied to these muscle groups. Special attention should be directed to the painful muscle knots in the muscles. Lastly, activation exercises to the transverse abdominals should be initiated.
Review of how to begin low back treatment
- Begin natural hydration with pure water (lime/lemon added).
- Boost the intake of essential minerals (mainly leafy greens, bananas, citrus fruits, nuts and seeds.
- Add stretching and massage techniques to hip flexors and buttocks muscles.
- Begin activation exercises for the transverse abdominal muscles.
- If the problem doesn’t resolve in two weeks, visit a physiotherapist or any other experienced manual therapist for more specific guidance.
- If the problem persists, see a doctor who is specialized in musculoskeletal disorders to discuss further actions.
Have a happy pain-free year 2015!
Ps. remember to check out our great New Year’s fitness Challenge!
Teijo Vienola has a bachelor’s degree in physiotherapy and he is specialized in occupational- and musculoskeletal pt. He is also nutritional consultant and writer for Kikulife.
More information about functional health can be found from Kikulife’s website. In addition, you can download a general guide towards energetic and pain-free life from the top of our site.
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