Top Four Myths About Back Pain

Myth #1: Back pain comes with old age.

Back pain is not age related. I've worked with nine-year-olds, teenagers, and senior citizens who all suffered from back pain. It's not one's age that makes the difference, but the extent to which one habituates to stress over time. We all respond to daily stress in our lives with very specific muscular reflex patterns.  If triggered consistently enough, these reflexes become habituated, "unconscious," and involuntary. This condition is called Sensory Motor Amnesia, and it is one of the biggest sources of chronic back pain. Back pain is easily reversible, however, with simple retraining of the brain's control of the muscles, such as is done with Clinical Hanna Somatic Education.

Myth #2: If there's nothing wrong on the diagnostics, "it's all in your head."

There is a popular belief that back pain is emotionally based, so when diagnostics are clear, the pain is determined to be all in your head. Dr. John Sarno's book, Mind Over Back Pain, is one such example of that belief. Unfortunately, it doesn't always work that way. While it is true that emotional and mental stress can create muscular tension (because the brain responds to stress, therefore the muscles respond to stress), it does not mean that wishful thinking and relaxation therapy will always work. When a stressful event (emotional stress, accidents, injuries, surgeries, or daily repetitive tasks) occurs, the brain reacts and contracts the muscles. This is how Sensory Motor Amnesia is established in your muscles. Once this occurs, you must change the state of your muscles for the long term through pandiculation and Somatic Exercises (the brain level), not only through relaxation therapy (the mind level).

Myth #3: Abdominal strengthening cures back pain.

This is one of the most popular and misguided beliefs about back pain. Having a conditioned core that supports your entire structure is a good thing, however, abdominal strengthening does not cure back pain. In fact, repetitious sit-ups and leg lifts can actually make your back tighter, thus deepening your pain. I've worked with plenty of athletes, dancers, yoga teachers, even Pilates teachers, who have strong abdominals and back pain. Back pain is more rapidly cured through sensory motor training, which retrains your brain to regain both sensation and control of your muscles and movement. Through this process you develop awareness of how the way in which you move (or don't move) affects your body. When you learn to move more efficiently and effortlessly, back pain will be a thing of the past.

Myth #4: Back pain means that your back muscles are weak.

Actually, the truth is that most of the time the back muscles are usually too strong and tight that they can no longer be properly engaged. Feel your back muscles with your hand. If they're hard and tense, there's nothing weak about them. Strengthening back muscles when they are involuntarily contracted can often make the problem worse. Chronically contracted muscles also do not get proper oxygen and blood flow, which, in turn, creates pain. Learn to voluntarily relax, release and control your back muscles through pandiculation and your pain will go away.

To learn how to release and relax the muscles that contribute to chronic back pain, check out my DVD, Pain Relief Through Movement.