THE LOWER BACK

 

THE STRUCTURE OF THE LOWER BACK

  • The spine of the lower back has five lumbar vertebrae

  • Below these the sacrum, a triangular-shaped bone, fits between the bones of the pelvis with a sacro-illiac joint on each side

  • The coccyx is a small tail-like bone below the sacrum

  • The bodies of the vertebrae are bound together by the intervertebral discs

  • These discs with their tough outer rim of cartilage and jelly-like core serve as shock-absorbers, and are shaped to give the lumbar spine its natural forward curve

  • The vertebrae form a bony canal containing the spinal cord

  • The spinal nerves exit from the cord through openings between the vertebrae, and supply the skin and muscles of the legs and feet, the lower abdomen and groin areas

  • Branches from these nerves also lead to the internal organs, such as the digestive, reproductive and urinary systems

Top

THE CAUSES OF BODY STRESS

  • The jarring effect of accidents and falls may cause body stress to become locked into the lower back

  • Heavy or incorrect lifting or bending may strain ligaments and muscles and result in stress becoming stored in the structures

  • The wrong kinds of exercise - those which involve twisting movements or repeated forward bending - may stress the lumbar spine

  • Another cause is poor posture, especially sitting in a slumped position which reverses the normal lumbar curve.

 

Sitting like this may give temporary relief from back pain, as it causes the joint spaces to open up at the back and thus reduce pressure on spinal nerves for a short time.  However, this posture builds up pressure on the discs and in time the back walls of the discs may weaken and develop a bulge.  This would result in pressure being exerted on a spinal nerve.

 

Top

THE EFFECTS OF BODY STRESS

  • Back pain

  • Pain in the abdomen, groin, hips, legs or feet

  • Pain along the large sciatic nerve which passes through the buttock and down the back of the leg

  • Sensations of numbness in any of these areas

  • Muscle stiffness or weakness

  • Muscle spasm, pulling the spine sideways or forwards

  • Digestive problems, e.g. constipation/diarrhoea, bladder complaints

  • Adversely affected sexual function

  • A feeling of stiffness in the lower back on arising in the morning

After BSR a person may be pain-free for a period, then experience a return of the problem for no apparent reason.  This signals that the lower back is ready to undergo further deeper releases of body stress.

If the body stress has been present in the lower back for a long time (the cause may have originated in childhood), it may be necessary for the stored tension to be released in 'layers' over a period of time.

As the foundation of the spine the lower back area affects the stability of the rest of the spine.  Therefore, if body stress is stored in the lumbar area, muscular tension will be referred to the upper back and neck.

Top

ADVICE TO MINIMISE STRESS IN THE LOWER BACK

  • When bending down, bend your knees rather than bending at the waist

  • When lifting, use the thigh muscles to take the strain.  Hold the object close to the body and avoid twisting

  • When sitting, ensure that the lumbar curve is maintained and that the knees are level with or lower than the hips

  • Do not sit with the feet up or recline for long periods in the bath

  • Avoid exercises which reverse or strain the lumbar curve, e.g. toe-touching, sit-ups, double leg-raisers

  • Take a few minutes to do the daily morning exercise which your BSR practitioner recommends, in order to strengthen the lower back and abdominal muscles

  • Your mattress should be neither too hard nor too soft.  It should support the normal hollow of the lower back

Top