Back pain, specifically low back pain, is the #1 pain complaint in the world. Back pain is the most common complaint that family physicians hear aside from the common cold. Why is back pain so prevalent?
Your brain would rather you be in pain than dead. When you get a pain signal, it’s not your body annoying you or trying to stop you from living a full life. Pain is a sign that you’re in danger, or at least – that your brain thinks you’re in danger.
One of your body’s primary jobs is to assess threats that could shorten or end your life, and one of the most dangerous scenarios we can encounter is a loss of communication between the brain and body. The brain communicates with the body via the spinal cord, or central nervous system (CNS). Aka, your SPINE.
Any potential threat to your spine will get rushed to the front of the line for priority consideration by your brain. And what is your brain’s job at that point? To get your attention. What gets your attention more than anything else? PAIN.
But just because you have back pain doesn’t mean anything is actually “wrong” with your spine. Your brain has simply detected that there is a danger somewhere to your spine and CNS.
That danger could be as far away as the bottom of your foot or the ball of your big toe, or as close as to the spine as the gluteus medius muscle, which may not be activating anymore.
Eventually, it can’t compensate anymore and that’s usually when you get a pain signal.
You have more nociceptors (threat detectors) in your low back than anywhere else in your body. No wonder low back pain is so prevalent! But just because those nociceptors are abundant there doesn’t mean that area is the problem.
Most people, when they experience low back or hip pain, dig into their back muscles or their glutes, have a massage therapist get in there and try to loosen things up or sit on a ball or foam roller hoping to ease the tightness and pain in that region.
But going to your low back or glute tissue expecting long term relief is like blaming the firemen trying to put out a fire. If you aim the firehose at the firemen instead of the burning building, the very people trying to save your life won’t be able to help you anymore and you likely won’t have a house to come back to.
In the case of low back pain, you can’t blame your low back or hip muscles; instead, you need to find the root cause and figure out why your pelvis, hip or spine became unstable and stabilize it. When you do that you won’t need your low back and glute muscles to tighten up to stabilize your spine, and the pain signal will go away.
Like a tree that needs strong stable roots in order to stand free and tall (and able to bend in the wind instead of break) your spine needs strong rooted legs that the pelvis can sit atop, and from there the spine can flow and move with freedom, unthreatened.
I want to help you make sense of pelvic instability and glute inhibition, so I created a free training where we can dive deep together into this topic. Check it out here.
My name is Elisha and I am a pain advocate. For someone who “gets people out of pain” (and quickly, too) that may sound backwards. Hang with me for a moment. We’ve become extremely pain averse in the modern world and I believe it’s costing us our health and freedom. I believe the fastest path to physical, psychological and emotional freedom (which are ALL connected) happens when we get curious about our pain instead of reactive to it. In other words, when we stop fixating on getting out of pain and instead turn towards it with curiosity, pain can reveal how we’re moving through life and where we are out of integrity with ourselves (physically, mentally, emotionally etc). Then we have a choice: accept the pain of where we are, or choose the pain that comes with growing.
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