Frequently individuals have been dealing with chronic back pain for
years. Your pain can be characterized as any of the following, which
are the most common complaints we see in our clinic:
If you are experiencing any form of chronic pain, you may have lost hope of ever living without it. You may have visited several medical professionals, ended up with half a dozen prescriptions, no reason for your pain
(even after MRIs, CAT scans and X-Rays), and no long term relief. Most of our clients experiencing chronic muscle issues are shocked when they get significant relief from just one session with us, because they feel like they tried everything that 'should have' worked. The problem is that, although the traditional specialist are highly skilled in their field, they don't really address your muscular health. In the five years in my twenties when I had excruciating, chronic low back pain, I visited an orthopedist, physical therapist, neurologist... had an MRI, and X-Rays, but they found technically no 'reason' for my pain, so they declared it a bulging disc and sent me home with a handful of prescriptions. I was healthy otherwise, and active until my constant back pain became too intense. I did not find relief until my pain had been a part of my EVERY DAY for FIVE years, when I had three massages in two weeks. It was significantly relieved after just one, but by the third massage, the pain was COMPLETELY gone, and has not returned since 1998.
Back pain is epidemic! Today's lifestyles create restrictions in our bodies, patterns of tight muscles that reduce our ability to move and create pain. If you don't know what you are doing everyday to cause these tension patterns, it can get tighter and tighter until it begins to hurt. The pain can be in the tight muscle, or where that muscle group creates tension. Basic anatomy: It *can* hurt because the pressure from continuous contraction in the muscle, can eventually squeeze the nerve that runs through it. You are NOT crazy. We have SO many people coming into our clinic who share that their doctors implied the pain was 'in their heads'. This is horrifying to us! There can be other structures (bones, etc) which put pressure on a nerve, but we have found VERY often that chronic muscular tension patterns are involved, particularly when a doctor can't find another reason in testing and imaging...becaaaaaaaauuuusse...(wait for it)...they can't see muscle tension on any common imaging device. Muscles take up a lot of volume in your body. To dismiss anything they can't see on an MRI or X-ray as psychosomatic is RIDICULOUS. If you live in Fort Collins, we have several doctors we refer to, who are very knowledgeable and respectful. We will happily give you their names, if you want someone to be on your health team and actually listen to you, without FIRST going for their prescription pad.
Some of the postural strains that can cause chronic tension, and possibly pain are:
1) Improper Desk/Mouse Position (I hope you aren't leaning forward, with your arm way out to the side right now...)
2) Crossing Your Legs (Both feet on the floor, please.)
3) Holding a Child on One Hip (OW!)
4) Sitting for Long Periods of Time (Creaky...)
5) Holding a Position of Leaning Over a Desk or Counter (Low Back Disaster.)
6) Sleeping Positions Which Strain the Structure or Shorten Muscles (Waking up creaky and feeling old?)
All of these positions tighten up certain muscles in the back, chest, glutes, upper legs, and abdominal muscles. The key is to find the primary muscles responsible for the tension pattern, and working them all, NOT JUST the point of pain. This is where our specialty lies. Most people will tell their therapist where they are having pain, and the practitioner will focus on the point of pain, not on the surrounding/supporting muscles which are causing the greatest amount of pressure on the point of pain. For instance: frequently the muscles involved in low back pain patterns are in the upper legs (hamstrings, hip flexors, and glutes), but many times practitioners focus their 'treatment' on the back pain lower right side...only. This type of treatment, at best, will only last a short time...at worst, it can cause more discomfort in that area, or in the sacroiliac joint, because NOW, the supporting muscles in the immediate area are looser, but the muscles exerting the most pressure on the area are STILL tight!
A Missing Link in Low Back Pain
One of the most common muscle groups which aren't addressed, but
are involved a great deal (huge percentage of our clients!) in low back
pain is the hamstrings. These three muscles attach to your sit bones,
and at points just below your knee, on both sides. If these muscles are
tight, they can pull and create a strain on your lower back and
sacroiliac joints, sometimes referring through your rump, and compress
your knee joints as well. Some people actually think they have
sciatica, which is compression of the large nerve running down the back
of the leg, causing referral pain radiating down the center of the leg,
when sometimes it is just the horrible deep aching from the muscles of
the hamstrings being ridiculously tight. Sometimes a client will report
"butt pain when sitting"
, because of the tension at the insertion point of the hamstrings. This
really uncomfortable deep ache will usually fire up when you are
sitting for a while...mine was the worst when sitting at a movie, or
driving. It would be strongest deep near my sit bones, just below the
rump, and ache down into the middle of the upper part of the back of the
leg, sometimes radiating as far as the knee, where the muscles insert.
I can't even tell you how many individuals come into our clinic after
YEARS of low back pain, numerous visits to different practitioners, and
they've never had anyone work on their hamstrings!! The giveaway that
the hamstrings are a primary player in the pain is when, while we are
working on that part of the leg, a client tells me they feel it in their
low back. I'm more than a foot from the point of pain, and this is why
all the work to relieve pressure immediately around the point of pain
doesn't always work.
We suggest for our clients to use some home tools for deep tissue massage. Something to help with the muscle restriction causing low back and hip pain. Even when our clients are coming in regularly to get deep tissue work, they need to take care of themselves at home too! The postures we all keep ourselves in every day continue to cause issues until we relieve the pressure of the muscles on the nerves. With these stretches: Right-Click here to download the GTS Massage Stretches for Low Back PDF file. (or just click to view in another window.)
You can learn how to maintain your muscle tension from chronic patterns. This is truly important, even if you get regular deep tissue work, so you can continue to feel better between your appointments.
This hamstring stretch is one of the important stretches we share on that pdf above that you can use to stretch at home. You will put your heel over the edge of something-I use the arm of our couch, bring your body up straight and lean your shoulders forward toward the wall in front of you...leaning down toward your knee will not isolate the muscle as much as you will need it to. The sensors in your muscle will let go a bit normally after 45-60 seconds, they contract that long to keep you from stretching into a muscle tear. After that initial 60 seconds, you'll usually feel the stretch creep into a different part of your muscle. To get lasting change in the muscle fibers and connective tissue, you'll need to hold the stretch for a full 2 minutes. We have clients who report massive relief of pressure in their low back after trying these stretches. I watch a clock, to be sure to hold it for the full time, because otherwise I would never stretch long enough! Don't stop with the hamstrings, though! There are other important muscle groups to stretch for low back pain. The
muscles in the back are playing a tug of war with your hamstrings, so
if you just loosen up the low back muscles, the pain can sometimes get
worse, because the point of highest tension hasn't been alleviated. The
most amazing thing to clients is that, even if I work only a little on
the low back, the pressure is diminished so much from the work on the
legs and glutes that the pain goes away. This is what we do...we work
to find the pain pattern, and help you to figure out how to make it
Be aware that if you are experiencing either sacrum pain, lower right back pain, lower left back pain, pain radiating through your glutes or low back hip pain, that crossing your legs is 'prohibited'. You may need to watch how you are standing, sitting, and sleeping to correct the pain pattern.
Upper Right Back Pain
One of the most common causes of upper right back pain , would apply to those who spend a lot of time on the computer. The 'upper right' part is because most of us are right handed. (It may be upper left back pain if you're a south paw.) This particular pain will usually be between the spine and shoulder blade, sometimes feeling like it is underneath it. It can be an annoying ache, or so bad that it radiates down the arm, or feels like it causes a shortness of breath or a feeling similar to an anxiety attack. (I know, because this is another one I've had. I'm so glad I was able to experience all these aches and pains to share the specific sensations with you. :) ) It is frequently caused by a chronic tightening of the lower trapezius muscle due to improper mouse position, carrying a child, or driving position. It sounds counter intuitive, but if this muscle is really congested,over worked, and REALLY aching, it usually means the pectoralis muscles are pulling your shoulder forward causing a strain in this mid back muscle, and a chest stretch would be in order. I know, I know...you kept trying to stretch that muscle out, but it was really hard to reach...it probably didn't help even if you DID get it to stretch, because the problem is actually that it is OVER stretched to begin with!
There's HOPE...Keep Looking...So, the issue we are sharing with our clients, and now visitors to this site is that there are alternatives to what you may have been trying to alleviate chronic muscle pain. Many practitioners are not even aware of the muscle pain patterns that cause common aches and pains...so keep going until you find one! If someone tells you there is nothing wrong because they can't see it on an X-ray, MRI or CAT scan, they aren't even looking at the muscle involvement. Your nerves run in and around muscles. If a muscle is squeezing a nerve too much because it is too tight, it can cause pain...a lot of pain. Just because something isn't ruptured, a vertebrae isn't pushing on a nerve or you don't have arthritic changes in a joint, does NOT mean that nothing is going on. You probably have a tension pattern causing pressure on the nerves, and the muscle imbalance needs to be addressed.
Go to Chronic Pain
Go to Running Injuries
Go to Massage for Athletes
Go to Carpal Tunnel and Repetitive Strain Injuries of the Forearm
Go to Pain Under Shoulder Blades
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Go to Fort Collins Massage Therapist Page
Return from Back Pain to Fort Collins Massage Home
-Identify What Factors are Making Your Pain WORSE.
-Learn Precise Stretches that Get to the Source of Your Pain.
-Create Solid Support for Your Back Using Our Simple Methods.
Testimonials from those who have used this natural solution for chronic lower back pain:
"I can't believe I've been making my back pain worse for years, without knowing it! Thank you for sharing the information in the BodyPain Matrix(TM) Program! I now can completely manage my back pain with my stretches and I've stopped sitting in 'bad' ways.I am so glad I finally have an answer after suffering with my low back pain for over 5 years." -Sheryl B.
"I've been dependent on my chiropractor and massage therapist for years. It all helped, but I feel like someone finally showed me what to do, so that I now know how to help myself. I also found out what I was doing every day to make my lower back pain worse! Thank you for sharing these tools with me." Beth F.