Low Back, Disc Health
Back Pain, a Pain in the Ass
Low back pain plagues many of us. For most of us, it grumbles as a stiffness in the background. Sometimes for years on end. Making it difficult to jump out of bed or even get out of the car with energy and flexibility. Making us feel twice our age.
And, to be honest, making us grumpy and even snappy! It can erode and define us as a grumpy old ####… before we even realise why. And some people think it is “normal”, or worse still “just ageing”.
For some, it becomes a show-stopper. For a while it has been an aching back, hip and buttock pain. Now it is acute, wincing pain, hard to put words too. Eye-watering. Or worse still, it now spreads down into your buttock and even into your leg, turning into “sciatica”.
It made us grumpy, now it makes us cry. And cry for help too… Here we explain the key to a healthy, strong, flexible back. We look at what goes wrong, and how to fix it.
In your spine there are 26 bones with 220 ligaments holding them together, and over 120 muscles controlling their movement. The co-ordination of the position and movement of each of those bones, muscles and ligaments is done by your… brain! And without clear communication from your brain to those levels, things WILL go wrong. It’s not a question of IF it will go wrong, it’s a question of WHEN will it go wrong.
Your spine is a MARVEL of ENGINEERING. Your pelvis is like a bony “Ring”, sitting on top of your legs, protecting your sex organs while transferring the load from your low back via the SACRUM. Your Sacrum is a triangular bone which sits in the pelvis. It only moves a small bit, but its position is CRITICAL because it has to transfer ALL of your upper body weight into the pelvis. And on top it holds the lowest of your five LUMBAR VERTEBRAE. An uneven sacrum angle WILL EVENTUALLY cause spinal troubles, often SCOLIOSIS.
We hear a lot of talk of the discs of your low back. They are super-strong “cushions” with a tough layered skin (Annulus fibrosus), and a softer “toothpaste-like” core (Nucleus Pulposus).
They shock absorb, allow mobility, but most importantly keep the space between the bones so that the SPINAL NERVES, which exit between each bone, have space. These nerves are the LIFELINE from your body to your brain.
Any pressure on them and the communication to your sex organs, blood circulation, or muscle coordination could be in danger. Pain is only the tip of the iceberg.
No matter the state of your back, this is what you ask of it everyday…
- Hold most of your body weight, and more! In a seated posture the peak force in your low back may be around 100kg, and in some gym “abdominal” exercises, these forces rocket to over 250kg!
- Shock absorb when you move, supporting any extra weight you decide to pick up.
- Contain, protect and “passively pump” the CSF (the “brain and nervous system irrigation”) from reservoirs in your sacrum and up your spine. See this video.
- Protect and pass the NERVES and their SIGNALS to your lower digestive system, sex organs, legs and circulation.
- And still be able to move freely and flexibly!
It is no wonder that injuries to this area quickly become chronic and life-changing, limiting our activities and making us feel old. But you can only blame your age IF EVERY other joint in your body is in the same condition… nearly all spinal problems are due to PREMATURE AGEING of one area more than the others. So what makes one body part age faster than the rest?
Two Categories of Low Back Damage
We mostly think of damage in terms of accidents- like slips or falls, and these are certainly important. However we all suffer far more trauma from something far less accidental…