by Michael Greenspan
Like most health conditions, low back pain is a chronic problem. Individuals with low back pain typically suffer off and on for years. Back pain seems to come on when we overexert or do something out of the ordinary, such as moving boxes or when returning to a sport we have not tried since our high school days.
Most individuals will say that stretching seems to prevent problems and injuries from the activities of daily living. Both the weekend warrior and the daily athlete will attest to the benefits of stretching prior to the activity.
But stretching is sometimes not a good treatment plan when the pain comes on. Why is that? Why is something so effective for preventing a problem and completely useless as a cure. Some people are lucky however. Through trial and error, they may find that the stretching actually causes their back pain to get better. But over the years its effectiveness diminishes. Some will say that their normal pre-activity stretches actually make the pain get much worse.
Stretching is designed to lengthen muscles and tendons. But back problems typically also have weak muscles that are already overstretched. So stretching them some more often creates a muscle imbalance and instability of the back. So while stretching may help a tight muscle, its effect on an overstretched weak muscle can be detrimental.
If you find that your normal stretches seem to have no effect on your pain or even make the pain worse, then that is a sign you are targeting the wrong muscles. In this scenario you need a qualified Neuromuscular Therapist highly skilled at releasing the tight muscles, not the overstretched weak ones.
A Neuromuscular Therapist can also advise you on stretches that lengthen the tight muscles but do not cause further stretch to the already overstretched areas.
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