Shiatsu for Back Pain Relief
Back pain can be a fearful ailment to live with if you don’t know what’s causing it, and how to resolve it.
Firstly you may have been told by the doctors what’s exactly going on, an issue with your spine, but keeping muscles strong and supple with help alleviate and ongoing pain that you have to manage. If you’re a person that’s never had a diagnosis and you just get pain or aches in certain parts but aren’t sure what’s causing or how to resolve it let me fill you in on a couple of things that can be going on, what to do about it, and whether Shiatsu will help with your back pain.
To sit and stand erect we need our muscles front and back to be in good shape and support our spines. A lot of the issues come from muscles being unsupported, weak, overstretched or tight. Our live styles play into this especially if the day has been spent at the desk/ in a car, and then sudden bursts of exercise and DIY at the weekend, this can cause minor injuries very easily as muscles are suddenly doing an exercise they haven’t done in a while and without the muscles being warmed up.
Abdominal muscles will play a major role in supporting the mid and lower spine. These muscles over the belly region, insert around our sides and into our spine, these muscles will help the back muscles if they’re kept strong themselves. So there is a reason for working on those stomach muscles!
If you’re sat at your PC and feel a twinge in your mid to lower back, pull your stomach muscles in and see if the pain diminishes. Once the back has some additional support it won’t need to ‘grumble’ at you! Lower back problems tend to occur in the Lumbar region, the strong weight-bearing vertebrae that sit below the rib cage and finish where the spine inserts into your pelvis (this then becomes the sacrum.
The Lumbar vertebrae sit in a girdle of complex muscles, like the Quadratus Lumborum at the back (which when tight can affect us bending sideways), the Abdominals to the front, and running through the pelvis into your thighs at the front – The Hip Flexors or Psoas muscles. The Psaos is a chunky beast sat deeply into your pelvis and groin to thigh. It’s also a muscle that can become tightened and shorter with a lot of desk and driving time.
For every muscle that is tight/short, there is an opposite one being overstretched ,and potentially weakened. So a tight Psoas can lead to a strain on your lower back
Weak abdominals can cause an extra strain on the back muscles , which can become tighter and minimise your flexibility. All the muscles work in pairs, doing equal and opposite actions, and this goes for one side being stronger then the other, or potentially tighter. When visiting with back or hip problems with a pain to one side, there is always a problem on the other side to resolve too. Muscles need to all be looked at to test their quality and tension.
In Chinese Medicine another really important aspect is how hot or cold muscles set are. We can use our terms such as Chi and energy, but if your muscles are not in good shape, they stop the Chi flowing and this can lead to muscles becoming cold and flat, the blood isn’t flowing freely and the pain you’ll experience will be more like a dull ache, or straining feelings when you stand up or twist. Think ‘Frozen’ Shoulder but its happening in your lower back and hip regions.
Western medication is fantastic at helping relieve inflammatory conditions, if you bashed your knee and it was throbbing and hot to the touch most medications would ease that. The problem with back’s is a majority of the time if you don’t have a specific diagnosis the problem is more than likely a ‘cold’ issue. These are caused by over working and weakening muscles or by the muscles being sedentary for too long. These cold conditions need warmth, such products as Deep Heat can stimulate the muscles back to life, along with sympathetic massage.
When you feel these types of long, lingering slow dull aches, with the occasional ‘ouch’ as you move and your body is warning you that something isn’t happy, do not seek out deep /heavy massages.
Your muscles are looking for warmth and gentle touch to reset and release the affected ones, to encourage blood to flow freely again, for the body’s Chi to inhabit the tissues and bring that muscle back to health again.
And this is what Shiatsu does, the touch is very gentle and supportive, after listening to and assessing what the affected muscles are doing, your body will be treated as a whole and the left side will have different work from the right side. There is no kneading of knots as this is not appropriate, once the muscles feel warmth and specific acu points are pressed (similar to Acupuncture) tight muscle fibre's release, the blood flows back in and begins to repair any damage.
If you have a regular lower back ache and you get it sat at your desk, out riding a bike, walking the dog, or you run around in T shirt what ever the weather you'll be suffering with too much cold in your back.
How to make a Kidney warmer:
Get a T shirt that is too tight on you, and cut it across below the armpits as in the photo
Wear this under your clothes, even if you just wear a T shirt, make sure it comes up as far as your bottom 3 ribs, and down to your hips.
This will give your kidneys that extra bit of warmth and will be one factor in alleviating dull aching back pains.
You'll also need to think about appropriate exercises to strengthen, supplements and therapy to assess and alleviate your symptoms.