Why Do So Many People Have Back Pain?

In writing here about the causes of back pain, I want to make it clear that I am a fitness trainer, not a doctor, and that much of the following information on is taken from experts published works and in particular "Fitness, The Complete Guide" by Frederick C. Hatfield Ph.D. -The official course text for ISSA certification course for fitness trainers. I also want to be clear that if you are experiencing back pain, you should consult your doctor, chiropractor or massage therapist before embarking on an exercise program to strengthen your back.

I don't want you doing the stretching and back strengthening exercises I describe without first talking to a specialist.

See the exercise index for a complete listing of exercises including those for back pain.

The two most common mechanical problems that cause back pain are malalignment (mis-alignment of the vertibrae and discs) and fixation (locking together). A malalignment can occur as a result of an injury such as slipping or falling. If a vertebrae moves out of its normal position, even just a little, it can create pain. Everyone at one time or another has experienced an injury or trauma and can relate to the pain associated with a malalignment.

It is equally important to understand and recognize that when two or more vertebrae get stuck together and stiffen up, or fixate, this interferes with the normal biomechanics - or movement - of your spine. Each individual vertebrae is ideally designed to move freely and independently of each other. This distributes the load and leverage of normal motion between all five lumbar vertebrae. The two main causes of fixation of vertebral joints are trauma and remaining in a static position for prolonged periods of time.

Traumatic Fixation

If you were to jam your finger while playing sports, not break it but just a sprain, it will certainly hurt and become stiff and swollen. You'll also find that the affected joint is immobilized (fixated) by the swelling.

Same thing goes with your spine. When your back is injured there are four joints or facets on each vertebrae held together by little tiny ligaments that are affected so an injury to 3 vertebrae multiplies and becomes 12 sprained or fixated joints! No wonder it hurts so much!

Movement after that puts a huge strain on the levels of the spine above and below the injury which can compound the problem. The muscles and little ligaments that hold the remaining levels together just can't take the added load and so they strain, sprain, or tear.

The damaged ligaments that hold the spine together eventually heal but they heal with scar tissue that's not as flexible and so the area is prone to further injury the next time you over-tax your back.

To visualize a sprain or strain, picture a nylon rope being pulled to it's maximum tensile strength. Just before it breaks, it begins to fray. Ligaments and nuscles under stress loads fray in a similar way. Even though you will eventually heal, your pain can last 6 to 8 weeks or more.

Static Fixation:

Static fixation is stiffness created by being in one position for prolonged periods of time.

For example, if you hold your finger back for one hour while driving or sitting at a computer, then let it go, it becomes stiff and difficult and painful to use normally. Or if you were to put your elbow in a cast for four weeks, then take the cast off, your elbow would be locked or fixated even though there was no injury.

The same thing happens to your back when you sit for prolonged periods of time without moving. Your spine stiffens up and fixates. When you bend over to pick up something after eight hours of sitting, you blow your back out and can't figure out why!

Well those fixated joints aren't sharing the load with the remaining joints above and below the fixated joints so the remaining joints are taking on more than they can handle and so the muscles and ligaments that surround and support them sprain, strain and tear.

According to the latest government study on back pain, chiropractic adjustments or manipulation are the best method of mobilizing the spine, reducing the fixations and creating normalized alignment. Gentle manual manipulation frees the fixated vertebral segments and creates normalization of mobility and alignment.

But the stiffness and fixations between the vertebrae will reoccur within hours of your adjustment if your return to doing nothing but sitting for hours on end.

There is no substitute for maintaining mobility and flexibility on your own.

I have found a unique and effective approach to reducing back pain in the form of an instuctional video by personal trainer and author Jesse Cannone. If you have suffered from back pain for some time without relief, you should have a look at the

Related Links:

A top rated San Diego chiropractor directory can help you find the best doctor to fix your aching back..

Lose The Back Pain Video here

Go to the back pain exercise index for back stretching exercises and back strengthening exercises.

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