Breathing for Low Back Pain


When you have a low back spinal condition your body will reinforce the support of the spine using muscles that normally get their recreation from the rhythmic cycle of your breathing. The guarded tension of these muscles while you are on your feet doesn’t allow them to get there needed recreation and recruits other muscles to balance the tension they are putting on your skeleton. This pattern of tension becomes a habit (technical term a facilitation) which doesn’t turn off when you get off your feet.

The result is muscle fatigue and joint stress which gets reported to your mind as PAIN. Pain is the symptom of the spinal condition; people often come for treatment of the symptom (pain) rather than the condition causing the symptom.
The following instruction is designed to assist you to listen to your symptom (pain) and get relief from the symptom while assisting in the repair of the cause, the spinal condition.

Lay on back with knees bent and resting against each other with feet as wide apart as your body. As you breathe in make a conscious effort to relax all of your abdominal muscles so that your belly expands.

As you breathe out make a conscious effort to tighten the abdominal muscles that run up the center of your belly, which will push everything up against your diaphragm pushing it up into the chest and pushing the air out of the lungs.

When the above becomes the established pattern of breathing (for some it may be a struggle because they have been doing the opposite) it is time to add the proper spinal movement. As you breathe in press the tail bone down and allow the low back to arch up slightly.

As you breathe out curl the tail bone up which may flatten the low back slightly. This rocking action will bring recreational movement to the joints of the hips and low back (including the discs) which brings fresh nutrients into them.

Your goal now is to keep this recreational pattern of breathing going long enough to refresh the muscles, that have been bracing from the hips to the ribs and along the spine, with a regular relaxed rhythmic movement until the waste products built up in them are moved along and the pain subsides.

The bracing pattern may have travelled up the ribs and into the shoulders and neck. The following instructions are designed to assist you in further working the symptoms (pain) out of these areas. This also assists in the repair of thoracic and cervical spinal conditions.

As you breathe in pull up gently on the legs with the muscles that run from the insides of your legs to the front of your spine. This will increase the arch in the low back slightly. Then relax and allow the low back to flatten as you breathe out. As you continue try to pull further up your spine until you reach under your diaphragm giving it a strong place to pull on.

As you continue this pattern you may find that tension and pain under and between the shoulder blades begins to ease. You are now experiencing the benefits of the often repeated saying bend your knees before you lift something heavy.

You will now prepare yourself for lifting something, your ribs. Pull the bottom inside corners of your shoulder blades toward the spot where your diaphragm is attached to the spine and which you have been reinforcing with the pull up from your legs.

As your shoulder blades get firmly flattened down on your back, Feel the front of your chest just below the collar bone; there is a part of your shoulder blade that comes through there and muscles are attached there that pull up on your ribs to help you breath in. It may be tender but as you breath monitor it with the tips of your fingers to make sure that the muscles tighten as you breath in and relax as you breath out. There may also be tension there pulling out to your arms give permission for that to relax.

As you breathe now from your shoulder blades less tension will be necessary on the front of your neck. This pattern requires less tension on the back of the neck from the top of the shoulder blades. You may be able to reach over the top of your shoulders along side your neck and massage these tender areas.

There are many more possible posture position stresses that you may be experiencing. As you continue to receive care you will be coached on how to reward each one of them with proper rest and recreation so that they can support your body through the repair process of your spinal condition.

When you experience a pain listen to it. The pain is not the condition it is the messenger that you have to do something different in the process of repairing the condition.

A spinal condition has a limiting effect on the carrying capacity of the body just as road repair has a limiting capacity on the number of cars that can travel over that road at the time. Treat pain as the orange barrels that signal that you have to temporarily slow down and redirect the traffic around the repair process.

Give your body plenty of low traffic time by doing the above breathing and other stretching routines to prepare the body for rest. Get regular chiropractic care to make sure the master traffic and repair control center your nervous system can get the repair orders out and properly executed.

Hans Albert Quistorff LMP