Does My Back Really Go Out Of Place?

Most of us have experienced a situation where we are going about our usual business and then suddenly out of nowhere our back locks and we cannot move.  A lot of people will come to us and say that they think their back has gone ‘out of place’. Is this really what is happening when we experience this situation?

Well not quite. Our back is actually brilliantly designed and is supported by strong ligaments and powerful muscles that will stop it from going out of place in everyday situations.

It is more correct to say that as we get a little older, our back gradually stiffens and because of this, the joints become prone to seizing, locking or jamming from time to time.  Once this happens, the little facet joints that sit towards the back of our spine become inflamed and irritate the millions of tiny nerve endings that are inside these joints.

This picture gives you an idea of what is happening on the inside when our back suddenly becomes painful.

Why Do Therapists Tell You To Use It Or Lose It?

When you have a back problem, you will often be told to ‘use it or lose it’. Why is this so important? As our joints get a little older, they will begin to stiffen. This happens because quite naturally our muscles and ligaments begin to contract and the cartilage padding between the joints starts to thin and become less spongy and flexible than in our youth.

If you have a look at the x-rays in this post, you can see that the dark space at the bottom of the spine on the left(which is the cartilage disc) has become very thin compared to the  normal spine on the right.

Once this happens, the joint will lose its flexibility.  But here is the good news: If you keep stretching the area regularly, it is possible to keep worn joints working well for many years to come.  The x-ray on the left belongs to an actual patient of ours and for the last three years he has been stretching his lower back for 10 minutes each day. Since he began doing this he reports far less pain and stiffness than he was experiencing before he knew how to manage this condition.

And that is why we say ‘use it or lose it’!


Sitting Solutions

Sitting for hour after hour like this is one of the worst things you can do to your spine. While some of us have to do this for a living, the maximum amount of time you should sit without getting up and moving around is 50 minutes. Take 10 minutes out of every hour to move around, do some stretches or do something else that doesn’t involve sitting!