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Back pain-erector spinae self care

Updated: Oct 14, 2020

Running from the pelvis to the skull is the ERECTOR SPINAE. It is a group of three muscles (Spinalis, Illiocostalis & Longissimus) running parallel to the spine. The Erector Spinae provides resistance that assists in the control action of bending forward at the waist as well as acting as powerful extensors to promote the return of the back to the erect position. Usually when I come across tight erectors it is due to a postural disharmony. An over or under curvature in one part of the spine caused by head forward posture, rounding of the shoulders/thoracic region or an excessive bowl curvature in the low back. I have also come across what I like to call teacher back, very common in people who are hunching over to talk to children or have their work much lower than their height. This ‘teacher back’ creates an excessive amount of trigger points and hypertonicity in the mid-back region.

To help ease this group of muscles, doing a postural check in the mirror after getting out of the shower is a great way to see if you are somewhat in proper alignment. Take a look this posture check picture below. When in the mirror stand sideways, this will take your head out of the equation but you can see if your neck is bending forward. You should have a slight bend in the knees with your hip bone, shoulder bone and ear in a vertical line. It may feel uncomfortable when all of these bony landmarks are aligned, if so it means there is stretching, retraining/breaking habits and muscle strengthening that needs to occur to hold these structures in place.

Stretching from a cat position with an arched back glide slowly into a child’s pose with your stomach touching your thighs and hold each position for 30 seconds.

For self massage a foam roller works great. Moving up and down the spine from pelvis up to the neck, if laying on the floor is too much pressure then you can place the roller on the wall and in an upright position roll out the muscles.

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