How to fix shearers' back pain is a time worn question. But you may be surprised to know that the simple regime of using a BackBlock reverses the bent-over postures - and undoes the ill-effects of time spent like this. Spinal decompression is the answer.
The best way to fix shearers' back pain is to give the body some respite in the opposite posture: putting the back into what is known as 'passive hyperextension'. This introduces the discs to relative negative pressures; the converse of the high intradiscal pressures of the shearing posture. The negative pressures reflate the discs by pulling fluid in. But the extreme pressure gradient also 'gees up' the biosynthetic repair processes.
This book explains about small but critical 'accessory' movements of our different joints
All healthy joints have small but critical 'accessory' movements which are invisible on the surface but which give them an elastic, floppy end-feel that is the hallmark of youth. We all inevitably lose our accessory joint freedom as we age - but it also happens prematurely if a joint (or part) spends too long locked in one position.
With the spine, the accessory movement first to disappear is the ability for the spine to pull out and the segments to ease away from each other in a longitudinal direction. The spine loses its ability to stretch, or elongate, like a concertina pulling out.
That disc wall (annulus fibrosis) is a tough diagonal mesh that glues the spinal segments together
The annulus fibrosis mesh naturally compresses and stretches with normal spinal movement
With excessive and sustained compression, the diagonal mesh loses its ability to stretch
A shearer working doubled-over massively loads up the front of his spine - compressing the vertebrae, squeezing fluid from the discs and bunching down the tough diagonal mesh lattice of the walls discs (the annulus fibrosis). Disc walls are the toughest material in the human body. After many hours spent compressed, they becomes less co-operative in pulling out again. This is where regular spinal decompression comes in. Th passive hyper-extension deliberately draws the spinal segments apart, keeping the disc walls compliant and s-t-r-e-t-c-h-y and giving the disc more room inside to imbibe water.
Shearers need spinal decompression on a daily basis, preferably at lunch or tea-breaks as well as an evening session. Each decompression session must consist of the 3-step BackBlock regime repeated several times.
Lying flat on your back with your knees bent, lift your bottom and slide the blue BackBlock under the back of your pelvis.
Without lifting your leg, push first one leg in the other out and let them both relax down straight, the weight of the legs rolling outwards. At first, it will feel uncomfortable and you'll find it difficult to relax. It will be hard for your butt to let go and the knees will stay up, almost juddering. Remain on the BackBlock for one minute only, doing your best to stop your body tightening with the discomfort. The first rep is always uncomfortable!
After one minute, draw one leg up then the other and carefully lift your bottom off the block. There is often the grab of pain as you go to lift your weight. Remove the block, then set your bottom back on the floor. Drawing one knee to your chest then the other, crossing the legs at the ankles and in this position, rock your knees gently for half a minute. The rhythm of rocking your knees is calm, like rocking a baby to sleep in pram.
Putting your hands on your forehead, now use your lower abdominal muscles to bring your knees towards your chin in the typical 'reverse curl ups' exercise. Try not to strain your neck with this action, getting all the power you need from the muscles below your belly button. Do 15 reverse curl ups for every 60 seconds on the block.
REPEAT STEPS 1-4 TWO MORE TIMES
STEP 1 FOR THE UPPER BACK
Position the block lengthways under the upper back, with the top edge level with the crossbar of the shoulders. It's always trial and error getting the position right, as you position the block on the floor and lie back over it.
STEP 2 FOR UPPER BACK
After carefully lowering your head back to the floor (this may take some moments) take your arms over your head, interlace your fingers and turn the palms away. You will feel a strong stretch through your inner upper arms and across your pectoral region which can be quite uncomfortable. Remain there for 30 seconds, at the end of this time rolling over to the side like a log to come off.
REPEAT STEPS 1 AND 2 ANOTHER TWO TIMES
Read more about Sarah's video taking you through The BackBlock in realtime
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