Fitness Tip

Fitness Tip


Nancy Augé, DC

Specializing in Active Release Techniques™

Patients often ask, what did I do to make my back hurt? We want to blame specific events, poor mechanics, that one thing…in an effort to determine what we did, and what to avoid in the future.

For most of us, there isn’t just one thing…that one posture or activity we can remove to make it un-happen or never happen again. Most of us have our own “perfect storm” that brings us to a place of pain.

There are some basic components of human anatomy and movement that we can look at to address the most likely perpetrators. With most complaints, there’s a victim and a culprit, and they are often not the same. Here’s why: the human body is stacked joint by joint to create stability and mobility. We need stable joints as foundation for movement, which help to drive the mobile joints. Every other joint complex is stable or mobile, not both. Our feet create stability so that our ankles can move. Our knees are stable, our hips are mobile, as we continue up the line.

If our joints are tight and can’t move, our body will create new patterns to do what we ask. A stability joint gets recruited for a mobility job it’s not designed to perform. A repetitive mobile stress on a stable joint may result in injury.

Our lumbar spines are stable. Our neighboring hips and thoracic (mid back) regions are built for mobility. If our hips and/or mid-back are too tight, the lumbar spine may get volunteered to create mobility, in an effort to hit a golf ball or move a loaded laundry basket. But it isn’t built for that. We feel pain in our low back and think it’s the issue, when really our low back is the overloaded victim and our mid-back/hips have been the tight and silent culprit(s) all along.

We need balance: a healthy mix of strength and fluidity to keep these bodies functional and happy. Consider lengthening mid-back and hips the next time the low back gets grumpy. Below are video links for a couple of simple stretches:

Note: This is not intended for diagnosis. Please contact your health care practitioner for any assessment.