Thursday, March 1, 2012
Take a step back and look at the bigger picture.
Yesterday I had a client who came to me complaining about low back spasms that she was having last weekend. Now, this client is the epitome of perfect health. Middle aged, works out with me twice a week, does yoga twice a week and is in very good shape. Yet, she had this terrible back spasm in her RIGHT spinal erectors (vertical low back muscles) whenever she raised her LEFT arm overhead. She attributed it to having a problem with her low back. She was up all night that night stretching and icing. Nothing helped.
So, I suggested she move her focus from her low back to her shoulder. Her back didn't hurt when her arms were at rest, they hurt when she forced that overhead movement.
Too many people look at just the affected area. That area may be the source of all of your pain, but it's not necessarily the source of the problem. Chances are, it's a symptom of a much bigger issue.
In this woman's case, that was exactly the problem. I did some range of motion and mobility tests on her shoulders and upper back and her left side was lacking almost 1/3rd of the right when it came to mobility. On the right side she was fine, but as soon as we started forcing extension through her left side, she compensated by leaning back with her low back instead. This happens a lot, and is a huge factor of low back pain in a lot of clients that I see.
So, I could have had her do some soft tissue work on her low back, stretch the hell out of it, even suggest that she get a massage.. But, I always try to take a step back and see how everything else is moving. At the end of her session, the back pain was gone and the range of motion in her thoracic spine and shoulder were improved dramatically. Even something like pain in hip musculature on your right side, can be caused by tightness in the shoulder on the left side.
I am trying to take the same outlook on things that are happening in my life. I can take things day by day and worry about the little things that are happening, or I can step back, get complete control of my life and put things in place that ensure that I will get to where I want to be. Living day to day is tough, it's full of unexpected surprises and you never know what's coming next. Getting rid of that tunnel vision and preparing for these things before they happen is much easier. So, next time that you get cut off in traffic, or your bread falls peanut butter side down, step back and figure out how it's going to affect your entire day or even your entire week.