No two ways about it, rehabilitation for a back problem is quicker if it's kick started with spinal mobilization by a qualified manual therapist. Mobilization is ‘tinkering’ with the spine with the hands (or at Sarah Key's clinic, the feet) focusing on freeing a segment that is stiff and sore.
In the page ‘What is Physiotherapy?’ Sarah discusses the power of touch - when a pain is literally tapped on the shoulder and urged to move on. Probing a painful spinal segment elicits a typical ‘sweet pain’ that also releases endorphins from the brain. Endorphin release is mood enhancing, which is why you feel so good after treatment.
A spinal segment becomes sore when it is locked out of the movement. The pain is like a flag to bring the matter to your consciousness, since remaining locked leads to its decline. Without movement, a segment cannot shunt a nutritional fluid exchange through its disc, so it slowly starves. Disc degeneration and loss of intradiscal pressure is the precursor to serious spinal dysfunction.
The 5 Stages of spinal breakdown are discussed by Sarah Key in The Back Sufferers' Bible. Ninety percent of cases of low back pain are Stage 1 A Stiff Spinal Segment, when the disc is simply stiff. With progression through to Stage 5 An Unstable Spinal Segment the conditions become more complex and more difficult to reverse. Early intervention is ideal, hence the painful flag prompt to get something done.
A spinal segment can become locked as a consequence of one defining incident, often vividly recallable many years later. Patients will always wish to relate ‘what happened’ and this is part of the recovery and healing process.
Mobilization using the heel of the foot is taught in Sarah Key's Practical modules of her Masterclasses for Physiotherapists.
No type of back pain exercise can ever replace expert spinal mobilization by a trained physiotherapist but to a certain extent and often with great success you can do things yourself to delicately undo a locked spinal segment. This is a large part of what self-treatment is all about.
In the package of 6 Back Pain Videos for the Time Poor you can see Sarah Key showing you how to mobilise your own spine with your hands
The two main spinal mobilising exercises are 'spinal rolling' and using the Ma Roller. Rolling over your spine is like laying your forearm down along a keyboard in a wave-like action. Rolling your weight over each segment loosens it from its neighbours and makes a brittle spine more supple. By altering the angle of your legs you can move your body weight up and down the spine to target all the spinal levels from L1 to L5.
The Ma Roller is like a convoluted rolling pin with two gently mounted humps either side of the central gully. Lying on your back with your knees bent you lower you weight and gently roll over it, up and down your spine targeting the painful levels. The main use of the Roller is to mobilise the facet joints either side of the spine.
The spinal mobiliser machine makes a pretty good effort at loosening the spinal segments. Though quite expensive and heavy to haul about, it never the less is the nearest thing to hands-on treatment. It is also much more bulky than a Ma Roller which does a similar thing.
But no two ways about it, you're better off having expert spinal treatment, at least to start with. The Sarah Key Physiotherapy Centre will be happy to do this for you.
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