Blog Archives

Stomach Pain: A mechanical explanation & a pill-free treatment

day two hundred and one.
Back pain is the number one complaint that brings people into my office for physiotherapy treatment, but rarely do people have just one issue.  Many times people have a handful of symptoms, but either don’t think they are related, or don’t think it is necessary to mention it to their physiotherapist.  Most people see stomach pain as an issue for their doctor and/or something they just have to live with, but in my experience doctors just prescribe symptom treating pills that don’t get at the crux of the problem.  Stomach pain very much can be an acid balance problem, but it also can very commonly be a mechanical issue related to your mid back and the physical mobility of your stomach.

After learning the osteopathic approach of visceral manipulation, I started considering the physical toll people’s organs can have on their alignment and their pain.  I started noticing and feeling the tension in people’s abdomens and ribcages in a different way because I had a better understanding of how the anatomy is attached to the inside of their ribcage and spine.  More often than not, a client would come to see me complaining of mid to lower back pain, but I started asking “are you having any stomach problems,” because I started to pick up on a particular pattern of restriction in their mid-back and upper stomach.  Enough clients started saying “how did you know?” that I started sensing that I was on to something.

Your stomach is a muscular bag that sits in the upper left quadrant of your abdomen and is squished up against your liver and under your diaphragm.  To do its job properly it needs to be able to muscularly churn your food which requires mobility relative to its neighboring organs and surrounding structure.  The mobility in the upper abdomen can and does get affected by the nerves that originate from your lower thoracic spine or mid back area.  Read More

Posted in Blog, Case Studies, Mid Backs Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,
3 Comments ↓

Why Backs Hurt

Waking up with back pain

If you have ever had your back ‘go out’ on you, you will appreciate the following post and may just learn something about how to fix your nagging back issue.  Back pain can take many forms and is hands down the most common issue that brings people in to physiotherapy.

“It hurts when I bend over to brush my teeth”
“I can only sit for 10 minutes before I have to move”
“Walking triggers a pain deep in my butt”
“I bent forward and couldn’t get back up”

It happens to the best of us.  I have seen lazy, overweight people with back pain; insanely fit personal trainers with back pain, elite athletes, new moms, desk jockeys and I have personally suffered from it on occasion.  You can have the strongest core in the world and still be susceptible to hurting yourself or experiencing pain in or around your back.  In this article I have outlined the most important factors as to WHY backs hurt because back pain requires an explanation of what is going wrong as opposed to a diagnosis of a condition.  You can also watch the video Why Low Backs Hurt.

Step 1 to Understanding:

Things happen for a reason.  You don’t just catch back pain like you can catch a cold.  It usually is related to something that you have done or are continuing to do poorly, like stand, sit, walk, breathe, bend or lift.  An accident or acute injury can set pain into motion, but how you deal with the injury, pain and mobility after the fact is the important part.  You are a product of everything you have done or been through up to this point and if that product has left you with chronic back pain then something has to change.  You may need someone to loosen something for you, you may need to learn to move more efficiently, you may need to lose weight, or may even need surgery. 

Read More
Posted in Blog, Low Backs, Mid Backs, Pain Tagged with: , , , , , , ,
No Comments ↓

Principles to follow when your back is sore

 

one


 

Acute (Days 1-7)

  • Ask yourself “what have I done and do I need someone else’s help?”
  • If you have had an accident or acute injury, it is best to seek help
  • If you are concerned you may have broke something or need some medication to deal with intense pain: SEE YOUR DOCTOR
  • If it is not an emergency, but you need help with pain, function and mobility: SEE YOUR PHYSIOTHERAPIST FIRST, not your doctor
  • If you determine you don’t need help just yet, but your back is acutely sore:
  • Lie down on your back on a firm surface and ice your back for 15 minutes at a time every hour you are able to for the first 3 days
  • Start doing gentle pelvic rock movements to help your back from seizing up
  • Start doing gentle hip stretches on your back and pelvic rock movements on your hands and knees
  • Avoid soft couches and beds for the first week
  • Once the intensity of the pain has subsided start using heat and ice for days 3-5
  • Shift to just heat when you feel your problem is more stiffness than acute pain
  • Visit a physiotherapist if the pain has persisted more than a week

Sub- Acute (Days 8-90)

  • Ask yourself “why did this happen and what am I doing to make it worse?”
  • Seek to understand the root cause of your problem by referring to the Why Backs Hurt and discussing what you’ve learned with your physiotherapist
  • Consider how repeated daily tasks like sitting, standing, breathing, walking and lifting may be contributing factors
  • Consider what type of treatment is most appropriate for you:
  • Massage Therapy, Osteopathy, Visceral Release, Craniosacral
  • Chiropractic, Active Release Technique, Spinal Decompression
  • Pilates, Yoga, Basic Fitness, Strength & Conditioning
  • Start to create more body awareness about how you may have been compensating for the pain you have been experiencing for the past week to month
  • Look at your posture and alignment in a mirror
  • Pay attention to how you are breathing
  • Try to note your pain patterns (i.e.
Read More
Posted in Blog, Healthcare, Low Backs, Mid Backs Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,
No Comments ↓

Breathing: more than just keeping you alive

Breathe
There are a lot of systems that function subconsciously in your body that you likely take for granted and very rarely, if ever think about; among the most important of these is breathing.  It is an amazing physiological process that allows you to draw oxygen from the air and filter it into your blood stream to keep you alive.  Your brain and spinal cord automatically just do it for you.  You breathe faster when you run and slower when you sleep; it’s a great deal, your body just figures it out how much oxygen you need and alters your breathing rate for you.  The drawback of not being an active participant in your breathing pattern is that you can lose touch with what is ‘normal’ for your body and be unaware of how things like pain, stress and posture are affecting you.

A basic understanding of the biomechanics of breathing and posture will help you understand what I mean.  Your ribcage and thoracic spine are the structural foundation of your torso. The rigidity of it protects your organs and supports your shoulders and neck, while the mobility of it helps you breathe, twist and move.  Your lungs line the inside of your ribcage.  In order for you to draw air into them, your ribcage needs to expand slightly and your diaphragm needs to contract and pull down; this will create a negative pressure and air will be pulled in.  The elastic recoil of your ribcage and diaphragm passively push the air out to complete the breathing cycle.  This keeps you alive.

The diaphragm

There is a difference between being alive and breathing well.  Just because you can breathe, does not mean you are doing a good job at it.  Just because you can stand, doesn’t mean you have good posture.  Just because you can walk, doesn’t mean you are using your body properly. 

Read More
Posted in Blog, Fitness, Mid Backs, Posture Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,
4 Comments ↓

Everything your mother taught you about posture is WRONG

Big Myth:

  • Chest up, shoulders back and down is the best posture

Most people think of posture as simply the need to keep your chest up and your shoulders back and down.  Sounds like a simple feat right?!  Then why will most people admit that they think they have bad posture?  The answer to that is because good posture is not a simple thing, it is actually a learned, coordinated skill that encompasses the whole body.  We are what we repeatedly do and our posture is a reflection of our childhood, our sports, our jobs, our emotions and our attitudes.

There is a continuum of flexibility and mobility among the population.  Some people are naturally very loose jointed and hypermobile while others are compressed and stiff as a board.  Where you end up on the spectrum seems to be partly genetic and partly personality.  The people that fall in the middle or the average/normal people tend to have the least pain and injury problems.  The further a person strays in either direction from the average the more and more posture, movement and pain problems they tend to develop.  There is not one perfect posture for everybody, but there is a norm that we should all be trying to achieve no matter which side of normal we are on.

Compressed/Hypomobile——————Average———————-Hypermobile
“Stiff as a board”                                            “Normal”                             “Loosey-goosey”

Our bodies are brilliantly built to deal with gravity as a constant downward force, unfortunately most people don’t know how to use their bodies properly or efficiently and end up with muscle imbalances, pain and dysfunction.  Posture should be looked at as a life skill not a genetic trait we can blame on our parents.  A very basic understanding of anatomy and biomechanics can save people a lot of grief throughout life. Read More

Posted in Blog, Knees, Low Backs, Mid Backs, Necks, Pain, Posture, Shoulders Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,
2 Comments ↓

Why Things Hurt: Explain Pain

This article has an accompanying video titled Why Things Hurt and a follow up article about the use of IMS dry needling

Reference: Dr Chan Gunn,  istop.org

If you experience an acute accident or injury, like spraining your ankle, it is easy to understand why your ankle may hurt.  You likely tore some of the ligaments and or muscles around the joint and experienced subsequent swelling, bruising and inflammation.  Over a four to six week period your body typically fills in the torn tissue with scar tissue and then slowly remodels it back to its original state.  Sometimes though the pain persists beyond six weeks even though all the swelling and bruising have long disappeared.  Other times pain appears for no apparent reason in the complete absence of an injury and you can’t understand why or what you did wrong.

Nerves are the electrical wiring of your body.  They supply the energy for all your muscles and organs to do their jobs.  Your brain and spinal cord are like the electrical fuse box of your body and your spine and skull are their protective coverings.  Peripheral nerves extend out from your spine at every level on both the left and right sides.  The nerves that extend from your neck are responsible for most of the muscles in your shoulders, arms and hands, while the nerves that come from your low back enervate all of the muscles in your hips, legs and feet.  The nerves in the middle are responsible for your trunk and a lot of your organs.

Muscles are comprised of a whole bunch of stringy tissue that can stretch and contract.  The muscle should have a certain amount of resting tone in it, i.e. at rest it is slightly contracted, not flaccid or extremely tense; this is dictated by the input of the nerve.  Read More

Posted in Ankles, Blog, Elbow, Feet, Knees, Low Backs, Mid Backs, Necks, New Moms, Pain, Shoulders Tagged with: , , , , , ,
1 Comment ↓

Follow me

Visit Us On YoutubeVisit Us On TwitterVisit Us On Facebook

Subscribe to the Movement School

Update Me! Get notified when Brent writes a new post

*No Junk! I promise! Boo Junk!