Everett Chiropractic Center Blog

December 19, 2013

First Aid For Low Back Pain

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I created a list of things people with low back pain can do for themselves, at home and for free, to get relief. It was actually going to go in this Blog, but I decided (for liability reasons probably) not to make it public – there’s a reason to seek Professional advice for these things. Anyway, all of our patients eventually find out about most or all of the things on the list and can then better take care of themselves.

So yesterday a patient came in and made such a big deal out of how beneficial one of the tricks was that I thought I should share it. When I stumbled upon it many years ago (I made it up), I could hardly belief how much of difference it made in my own pain level and I have made it a habit since. But, like so many other healthy habits, it’s easy to forget about the importance after a while.

So here is the set up. In the world of back pain, hip flexibility is almost always there as an issue to be aware of, check into, and usually consider doing something about. Chiropractic doctors who are willing and able often check the hip for joint restriction and correct that. Evaluating whether there are tight hip muscles that limit motion (and therefore contribute to dysfunctional motion that presides, complicates and accompanies the other issues that may be present) is also common practice and important – think hamstrings.

One set of muscles that are very commonly involved in low back and/or hip pain are the ones that cause the leg to rotate so that the toes point out: the hip external rotators. They get short and tight… and they stay that way usually. It shows up in the way people walk – their toes point out instead of ahead. We notice this in Tai Chi classes because it’s a habit we attempt to correct. For many people the simple act of standing with the feet pointed straight ahead is a challenge…

So here is the cure. When you lay down on your back at night to sleep (Wait! You don’t sleep on your back? We should talk.) Anyway, to the extent that you can or do lie on your back – whenever (it could be watching T.V.) – position your feet so that they are pointed inward. Think pigeon-toed. Now, they won’t want to stay there (because the muscles that are too tight are too tight and will pull them outward), so use the covers – or something – to hold them in place. Now go to sleep.

Just like breaking the stomach sleeping or side sleeping habits, getting into the habit of turning those toes in whenever you think of it will (or can, perhaps) make a big deal.

The patient who brought it up yesterday was amazed at how just doing that made such a huge difference in her experience of back pain overall. I, of course, am also interested in how well it usually helps a person hold their chiropractic adjustments.

And, as always, it’s another way to make a difference without creating a special “session” in your day, that you don’t have time for, for taking care of yourself.

I hope that this tip helps you. If it does (or if it doesn’t), leave a comment. This Blog could be a conversation…

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