Back Pain is a Symptom, Not a Cause!

Too many times back pain is treated as if the back just started hurting. Some believe they were born with a bad back, or it is age-related. It does seem the back can start hurting on its own. There is a cause for the pain and it isn’t the back. Some have back surgeries or injections for back pain. In these cases, there may have been damage, but it didn’t begin that way. If a car’s front end is out of alignment, it begins with a feeling of the car drifting to one side. Continuing to drive without aligning the front end, the tires begin to wear uneven. Continuing to drive and replacing the tires could wear out the control arms.  That is a $1500 repair that could have been less than $100.

Doing the Same Old Thing

With the body, the muscles tighten from movements like lifting things, walking, or running.  First, your back feels stiff when you awake or sit for a while. We think it is old age. If it persists we take a pain reliever, use a heating pad, or ice. When it stops, you think you are fine.  You continue the activities that caused your back to stiffen. After repeating this cycle over and over, you believe it is just a sign of getting older. Later, you may get numbness down a leg or arm. You get scared and call a doctor. They may see some issues through a scan and send you to physical therapy. There you are taught how to strengthen your back muscles with some traditional stretching. This treatment relieves the pain in the short term. Believing you are healed, you continue doing the same activities that hurt your back the first time., There is no correlation between what you do to the back pain. Healthcare practitioners are trying to help you, unfortunately, they have been taught to treat the symptom, not cause.

Hoping for a Different Result

In several articles, they have stated,  back surgery is successful in total relief of pain, less than 50% of the time.   Back pain the #3 reason people visit a doctor and yet we cannot seem to figure it out. The problem is, we are trained to treat the pain. We are trained to look at the bones more than the muscles. mainly because they are easier to see with scans. Most people trained in the muscles focus on the physical side of muscles, meaning strength training with a little traditional stretching. The muscles are as emotional as they are physical. Physically you can strain or tear a muscle. Emotionally, the brain controls the muscles 100% of the time. Just a thought can make you tense or relaxed, depending on the thought. This is how the brain keeps you alive.

When you had back pain and you try to stand up from a chair. The first you did was,  get up slowly hoping not to feel pain. Your brain was looking for the pain. The brain will contract the muscles trying to limit the pain. That is the brain’s job, the “fight, or flight syndrome.”When our ancestors were chased by Saber Tooth Tigers, their brains told them to run! Pain causes the same reaction by contracting the muscles. This is good in the short term, but long term it can make the pain worse.

What are the Causes?

Typically most low back pain is caused by tight inner thighs or upper front thigh muscles(quads). Upper back pain is usually caused by tight chest and front of the neck muscles. The more you bend forward the more pressure is put on the backside of your body. When in a standing position, the body is balancing itself 100% of the time. This means, beginning at your feet, the calves and feet are shifting back and forth firing muscles to maintain a standing position. Tight calf muscles can lead to taking shorter strides. When this is happening, the person will lead with their nose, shortening their chest and front neck muscles. This shortening increases the pressure on the back of the neck and mid-back areas. To read more go here

Sitting for long periods of time can affect the low back and also the neck. Sitting causes the upper front thighs and inner thighs to shorten. At the same time, the abdominal muscles will shorten too, causing the head to lean forward. The shortness on the front side increases the pressure on the backside due to the weight of the head. The human head weighs approximately 10-12 lbs. Every inch your head leans forward, the pressure on the back of the neck doubles. This pressure runs the length of your spine causing the upper body to lean forward. This adds pressure to the lower back. The front thigh and inner thigh muscles can pull the pelvis forward increasing the pressure on the back.


IN future post I will talk about how to free up the muscles that are affecting your low back, midback, and neck. For more information go to

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