“My back is killing me today.” How many times have you heard a friend, loved one or acquaintance say this? How many times have you complained about your back? Maybe this statement came with a grumble of unmistakable annoyance?
The good - or really bad - news is that you’re not alone. Low back pain is the most common pain problem in the United States.
An estimated 70 percent of people will experience low back pain at some point in their lives. Recurrence rates can be as high as 85 percent. This nagging pain interferes with our ability to live fully. It reduces mobility, hinders work duties and negatively impacts self-care. We suffer adverse psychological and emotional effects with the physical pain.
Ok. Enough with the facts. This is ridiculous. Why do so many of us experience low back pain? And what can we do about it?
Our Lumbar Spine
Our spine is actually a work of brilliance. As Leslie Kaminoff and Amy Matthews remark in Yoga Anatomy, “The full glory of nature’s ingenuity is apparent in the human spine.” The spinal column helps us ground with gravity and expand infinitely. Our spinal form balances rigidity and plasticity, passive and active elements.
Our low back, or lumbar spine, is part of this well-engineered structure of interconnecting bones, joints, nerves, ligaments and muscles. All of which work in concert to provide you support, strength and flexibility. Only we, humans, have a lumbar curve. By 3 years of age, the lumbar spine begins to concave forward, becoming lordotic. After the age of 10, the lumbar spine fully assumes its adult shape.
Unfortunately, the way we relate with our spine - breaking its unity, collapsing structurally and/or forcing too much supportive pressure in the back body - creates ripe conditions for low back pain. While doctors commonly name the issue in terms of discs, bones, joints and ligaments, the problem is larger. We misalign our spine’s purpose and its usage.
Is Yoga the Answer?
There is a growing body of scientific evidence that yoga is effective for chronic low back pain. Research found that yoga and therapy patients were almost equally less likely to need pain medication than those receiving only education. Led by Robert Saper at Boston Medical Center, the BU study followed 320 patients who were getting 12 weeks of either yoga, physical therapy, or educational information, followed by 40 weeks of maintenance visits or home practice.
For Mark R of Marlborough, MA, a successful financial advisor, these research findings have come alive in his yoga therapy sessions.
I have some pretty severe back problems such as arthritis and spinal stenosis not to mention some disc issues. I have been working with Theresa for about two months now. The relief I have gotten from my sessions lasted the longest of any other modalities up to this point.
So is yoga the answer? Yes and no. Multiple scientific studies have been unable to strongly give the stamp of approval to yoga because of the diversity within yoga, differing branches of yoga and quality of the instructor. Similarly, many studies have been unable to detangle the benefits of physical therapy as opposed to yoga.
For Mark, the difference in his healing process was Theresa. Prior to yoga therapy with her, he tried just about everything else for his chronic low back pain. From physical therapists to massage therapists, acupuncturists to other yoga instructors, none seemed to meet his back pain where he was.
Never had I had as much attention from any of the medical professionals. The things I have learned during my private sessions with Theresa have spilled over into my personal healing program. I highly recommend her for any therapeutic needs including hands-on private sessions, meditation or simply working with her get your body back on the right track whatever your ailment may be.
So is your back still killing you? What are you going to do about it? You do not need to be a part of the 70 percent who experiences low back pain.