I thought I was in good shape but a single session with Alex transformed my ease of performance and so improved my ability to ski, cycle and play football...
Kevin, Beconsfield

Back Care Awareness Week!!


Whether it is located in the neck, mid or lower back, pain in and around the spinal area is a prevalent issue in today’s society.  In the UK, it is estimated that nearly 80% of adults over 16 will experience back pain at some point in their lifetime.  Due to the position of the spinal cord and nerve roots, neck or back pain can  produce some very debilitating symptoms and even affect the function of the arms, legs, hands and feet.

Background

The spinal column is made up of 5 sections.  The cervical spine (red) consists of 7 vertebrae, the Thoracic spine (yellow) comprises of 12 vertebrae, and 5 vertebrae make up the Lumbar spine (green).  The 5 vertebrae in the Sacrum (turquoise) and 4 in the Coccyx (dark blue) are fused.

To function properly in our daily lives and sporting activities, it is important that the 24 mobile vertebrae in the spine work together to provide total spinal movement.  The shape of each vertebrae is directly linked with its function and mobility.  For instance the cervical region is the most mobile section of the spine in all ranges, the Thoracic spine is the next mobile area, providing good range through bending, extending, side bending and rotating and finally the lumbar spine provides some bending and extending but very little rotation.

Causes

Due to the increasing amount of time we spend immobile, at our workstations, commuting or in front of the television it is common for the Cervical or Thoracic areas of the spine to become stiff and restricted.  Even in the more active person, spinal restrictions may also be adopted as a result of poor exercise technique and muscular imbalances.

The spine will quickly compensate for these restrictions by becoming hyper-mobile in the other areas, allowing us to continue functioning as best we can.  The body may be able to cope with this for a period of time until the stress becomes too great and something ‘goes’ leading to pain and usually further immobility.

Solutions

Initially, resting will aid the symptoms however, this will not address the cause.  You may find that the pain becomes a recurrent issue, until the cause of the problem is identified.

Seeking the advice of a trained professional (physiotherapist, osteopath etc.) can provide dividends in your recovery as they will assess not only the injured area, but what could have led to the injury in the first place.

Treatment may begin with massage and soft tissue release to control your painful symptoms.  From there, it is possible to work on mobilising the restricted areas and strengthening / stabilising the hyper-mobile areas.

Postural correction and a continued mobility program can then be provided to maintain the improvement and reduce the risk of further painful episodes in the future.

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