Eliminate back / cervical pain

Back pain: causes

Back / cervical pain due to contractures / slight inflammation is typical of:

  • Mental stress – Even if we do not mind it (until it is too late), our mind can force our muscles to constantly contract during a stress moment (household quarrels, economic problems, adverse work environment, no free time, etc.)
  • Bad sleeping positions – An old bed or mattress (or just too soft) can prevent us from maintaining a proper position during sleep, thus arranging our body so as to maintain tension throughout the night
  • Bad working / studying positions – Whether our occupation is static (eg. on a desk) or dynamic (eg. on a construction site), the repetition of wrong positions or movements for more and more hours can give rise to various types of problems
  • Incorrect workout method – Training in the wrong way skipping for examples warm-up / stretching (read How to correctly perform warm-up and How to correctly perform stretching) or refusing the necessary gradual path to gain certain real skills is a typical defect of beginners (it causes a lot of damages, and worse than ever it often leads to abandon the martial or sports practice)
  • Too intense training – Training a specific body part too intensely (high speed, long time, too many repetitions, too heavy weights, etc.) to reach a difficult goal in a shorter time is a typical error of advanced practitioners (and it can lead to various kind of injuries)
  • Residues of physiological damage – When the body heals a damage it tries to put things back in the best possible way but not always the state of the offended area return as before; in some cases this “change” means strengthening (eg. conditioning), in other cases a weakening or a deformation which can be followed by an alteration of the mechanics of the affected area (rubbing, compression, tension, weight charge, etc.)

These are only the most common reasons for back problems and in a lot of cases, they are combined (eg. mental stress and bad working position).

How to relieve back pain

Let’s see now a very simple but effective and quick way to stretch / relax our back and our neck.

What we need:

  • Let’s take 2 Tennis or Baseball balls (they’re also fine in plastic)
  • In most cases, it is better to start with Tennis balls, if we have never done this exercise it could be vaguely painful
  • Let’s find a smooth and “clean” wall that can be “dirtied” and (if possible) let us take off our upper body wearings

The exercise:

  • Let’s relax mind and body, we have to slowly breathe (we can also use ambient music, read Meditation method 5 and Workout music: how, when, why)
  • Let’s put the balls together and let’s position them between our back and the wall
  • The balls must always be one at the right and one a left side of our spine
  • Let’s start by positioning them at the base of the buttocks
  • Let’s slowly move upwards and downwards intensely pushing the back against the balls and the wall
  • The part that interests us is in the vicinity of the spine (we have to keep the balls together, pressing them with closed fists if necessary)
  • Again, let’s never tense our muscles, let’s use our body weight to create the compression
  • If the balls are separated it is not an error, it just happens that the massage extends to the rest of the back (we have to choose what we want to massage)
  • What we have to control is the symmetry of the level of the balls (it is not good that a ball stay more up / down in relation to the other)
  • As the contractures are dissolved in the gluteal area, we have to manually move the balls in the highest areas (gradually up to the neck)
  • We have to cover the entire length of the back but we must insist (with caution) on the points that major cause “discomfort”
  • We have to try to make slow and intense cyclical movements (at least 25 repetitions for each step)
  • During the exercise itself, if we are doing it well, we will feel a strong sense of well-being and relaxation (never real pain)
  • In a few sessions (probably 1-2) of self-massage and if our problem is due solely to numbness / contractures, the pain will disappear
  • This exercise comes from Yoga and it has a very high-efficiency level; the advice is to practice for 10 minutes a day (until complete recovery or as a relaxation method)

Final tips

Variants:

  • A lot of people to maintain the balls together use woman stockings (putting them inside) but this does not allow to reach the entire surface of the back
  • The same practice can be performed on the ground instead of against the wall (more intense)
  • Let’s choose the rigidity / type of the balls in relation to the level of contractures (higher tension, higher rigidity)
  • If we are used to this exercise and we need more intensity we can gradually implement more and more rigid tools (the most rigid is wood but it is not suitable at all for not conditioned practitioners, read Conditioning check for the impact)

Important notes:

  • Before performing the exercise we must consult with our family doctor
  • At the first sensation of pain or discomfort, we must interrupt the practice
  • We do not have to do this massage in the presence of unhealed trauma / inflammation / etc. (we always have to wait for our body being stabilized)
  • If the contractures are very strong it is a good practice to do a relaxing hot shower before starting the practice
  • If the practice after 2-4 sessions does not work we probably have a serious problem and we must consult a good physiotherapist
  • This practice is useful to solve a light problem and / or to help body stretching, in no case, it should be used to abuse our body capabilities (disproportionate training, etc.)

In the next article of this series, we will see how to prevent back / cervical problems.

In-depth articles

Questions

Reply in the comments and share your experience:

  • In which situations do you feel pain in your back or neck?

Author: Master Kongling

Founder of 6 Dragons Kung Fu.

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