Category Archives for "back pain"

Mobilizing the Thoracic Spine

A tight upper back may be attributed to stiffness in the shoulder, neck, or back muscles surrounding the thoracic spine. Rounded or slump shoulders, having sway in the lower back, or a forward head position due to weak back extensor muscles, short and tight chest muscles, or weak abdominal muscles may result in an individual having poor posture. Poor posture can place tension in the upper back and may result in irritation or pain. Sports, weightlifting, irregular sleeping positions, or car accidents may also cause tightness in the upper neck and back region. Mobilizing and strengthening the muscles surrounding the thoracic spine may relieve an individual of stiffness or pain, while improving an individual’s range of motion and functioning. Remember to have a balanced, upright posture by standing tall, bringing the shoulders down and back, tuck your chin, and keep a neutral spine to work on better posture.

EXERCISES FOR A TIGHT THORACIC SPINE

1) Thoracic Rotations: 

Lie sideways on a mat or on the floor with both arms extended to one side and hands together. Bend the knee of the top leg to form a 90 degree angle. Place a long foam roller underneath the bent knee if you are unable to touch the ground with this top knee. Keeping your lower body in this position, twist your upper back by bringing the top arm over your body to the other side to touch the floor. Repeat 10-12 times, then lie on the other side and complete the same movement.

2) Cat-Cow: 

Begin in a table-top position with your knees hip-width apart and wrists shoulder-width apart on a mat or on the floor. Keep a neutral spine and head position. Move into the “cow” pose by inhaling as you drop your belly down towards the mat as you lift your chin and chest up to gaze toward the ceiling. Then move into the “cat” pose by exhaling as you draw your belly into your spine and round your back toward the ceiling. Repeat 10-15 times.

3) Seated Lateral Flexion: 

Begin seated in a chair with both feet planted on the floor or seated on the floor. Raise one arm up towards the ceiling. With your arm raised above your head, slowly bend to the opposite side. Return to the start position and lower your arm. Then raise the other arm and slowly bend to the opposite side. Repeat 5-10 times on each side.

4) Thoracic Extension with a Foam Roller: 

Place a long foam roller perpendicular to your spine on a mat or on the floor underneath your shoulder blades. Interlace your fingers and place your hands behind your head to support the weight of your head. Slowly push with your feet to roll the foam roller up and down the thoracic region. Maintain a neutral spine and engage your abs.

5) 4-Point Walk-Out: 

This exercise helps to re-train muscle activation in the shoulder blades and mobilizes the muscles surrounding the thoracic spine for a better functional recovery. Place your hands and knees in a four point or table-top position with a neutral spine. Engage the inner core and start by walking one hand out to one side, then back to the centre, and then to the other side, then back to the centre again. Put full equal weight each time you place your hand down. Maintain a neutral spine throughout the exercise. Repeat for 30 seconds for 3 sets.

InSync Physiotherapy is a multi-award winning health clinic helping you in Sports Injuries, Physiotherapy, Exercise Rehabilitation, Massage Therapy, Acupuncture & IMS.

How to Reduce Interscapular Pain

Persistent pain between the shoulder pains, or interscapular pain, may arise from a number of varying causes. The scapula is the bone that connects the humerus (upper arm bone) with the clavicle (collar bone) on either side of the body. The intrinsic muscles of the scapula include the subscapularis, teres minor, supraspinatus, and infraspinatus, all of which make up the rotator cuff. The major muscles surrounding the scapula that make up the interscapular region include the rhomboids, trapezius, and levator scapulae.

The rhomboids are two quadrate-shaped muscles that originate from the lower cervical vertebrae and upper thoracic vertebrae and attach to the medial border of the scapula. The rhomboids work to retract and rotate the scapula downwards. The trapezius muscle extend from the occipital bone of the skull to the lower thoracic vertebrae and attach to the scapular spine. Its action is to elevate and rotate the scapula upwards. Likewise, the levator scapulae run from the upper cervical vertebrae to the superior portion of the medial border of the scapula and works to elevate the shoulder blades.

CAUSES

One of the common causes of interscapular pain may be due to a muscle strain of one of the muscles described above from poor posture, lifting, or twisting motions from activities such as golf or tennis. Other causes may include trauma such as dislocations or rotator cuff tears, cervical or thoracic herniation, arthritis, heart conditions, cancer, gallbladder disease, scoliosis, or gastroesophageal acid reflux.

TREATMENT

Treatment begins by identifying possible underlying causes contributing to the pain between the shoulder blades. Poor posture occurs when the head is forward and shoulders are rounded. This stretches the rhomboid muscles excessively and causes the muscle to weaken. Correcting poor posture by taking frequent breaks from sitting, bringing your shoulders down and away from the ears, as well as evenly distributing your body weight to all sides may help relieve upper back soreness.
Active release, moist heat therapy, and intramuscular stimulation with a physiotherapist are effective ways to release tension in the back muscles.
Consult a physician or specialist to assess for gastrointestinal, pulmonary, and cardiac-related conditions as they may cause referred pain in the upper back region.
Watch the following videos below on how to stretch and strengthen key muscles in the shoulder region:

Rotator Cuff / Shoulder Impingement Rehabilitation:

Advanced Strengthening for Weak Shoulder:

Scapular Muscle Strengthening / Activation:

InSync Physiotherapy is a multi-award winning health clinic helping you in Sports Injuries, Physiotherapy, Exercise Rehabilitation, Massage Therapy, Acupuncture & IMS.

How Can Flat Feet Lead to Poor Posture?

Prolonged sitting in front of a computer, in a car, or at a desk can result in poor posture habits that ultimately cause a wide range of problems such as chronic back or neck pain.

Flat feet is a key risk factor for poor posture. This foot condition can be caused by genetic factors, weak arches, injuries, arthritis, tendon ruptures, or poor footwear. It occurs when there is a collapse in the foot arch which causes the feet to overpronate, or roll inwards. This places high stress loads to the ankles, knees, hips, and lower back, which lead to pain and stiffness throughout the body.

A few tips to keep the body in alignment is to bring your shoulders down and away from your ears to not hunch the upper back. Evenly distribute your body weight to the front, sides, and back of the feet. Remember to take frequent breaks during long periods of sitting or staring at a screen. Lastly, proper footwear or orthotics, and strengthening or stretching of the deep neck flexors, trapezius muscle, abdominal muscles, and hip muscles may help correct poor posture.  
Watch the videos below for some quick and easy exercises to help alleviate pain and strengthen muscles for good posture:

Chronic Neck, Shoulder, Elbow Pain or Stiffness: Ulnar Nerve Flossing

Strengthening Hips, Pelvis and Low Back: “Psoas March”

InSync Physiotherapy is a multi-award winning health clinic helping you in Sports Injuries, Physiotherapy, Exercise Rehabilitation, Massage Therapy, Acupuncture & IMS.

10 Easy Foam Rolling Techniques

Foam rollers have become a widely used tool for muscle recovery. In response to working out hard during training, the collagen and elastin fibers in the connective tissues surrounding the muscles become more dense and rigid forming strong adhesions commonly known as knots. Building knots can prevent normal muscle contraction and cause pain. The role of foam rolling in self-myofascial release has been known to break down these adhesions, which can improve range of motion, mobility, posture, and muscle recovery. A few important tips: engage your core throughout rolling, relax, remember to breathe, avoid rolling directly over your bones, joints, neck and lower back. Below are TEN great foam rolling exercises to target the entire body (source: http://www.mensfitness.com). Slowly roll on the targeted area until a tender spot is found and remain on that spot between 30 to 90 seconds.

1. Upper back roll

Lie down with your back on the floor. Place a foam roller underneath your upper back and cross your arms in front of you, protracting your shoulder blades. Raise your hips off of the ground, placing your weight onto the roller. Shift your weight to one side, rolling the upper- to mid-back. Alternate sides.
2. Calf roll

While seated, place a foam roller underneath your lower leg with the other leg placed on the floor supporting some of your weight. Place hands at sides or just behind you, and press down to raise your hips off of the floor, placing your weight against your calf muscle. Roll from below the knee to above the ankle. Repeat on opposite leg.

3. Groin roll

Lie face down with one leg on top of a foam roller so it’s against your inner thigh. Shift as much weight onto the foam roll as can be tolerated. While trying to relax the muscles of the inner thigh, roll over the area between your hip and knee. Repeat on opposite leg.
4. IT band roll

Lie on your side with bottom leg placed onto a foam roller between the hip and the knee, and top leg crossed in front of you. Place as much of your weight as is tolerable onto your bottom leg. Roll your leg over the foam from your hip to your knee. Repeat on opposite leg.

5. Hamstrings roll

While seated, extend your legs over a foam roller so that it is positioning on the back of the upper legs. Place your hands to the side or behind you to help support your weight. Using your hands, lift hips off the floor and shift your weight on the foam roll to one leg. Relax the hamstrings of the leg you are stretching. Roll over the foam from below the hip to above the back of the knee. Repeat on opposite leg.

6. Quadriceps roll

Lie face-down on the floor with your weight supported by your hands or forearms. Place a foam roller underneath one leg and keep that foot off the ground. Shifting as much weight onto the leg to be stretched as is tolerable, roll from above the knee to below the hip. Repeat on opposite side.

7. Lats roll

While lying on the floor, place a foam roller under your back and to one side, just behind your armpit. Keep the arm of the side being stretched to your side as you shift your weight onto your lats, keeping your upper body off the ground. Repeat on opposite side.

8. Glutes roll

Sit with your butt on top of a foam roller. Bend your knees, and then cross one leg so that the ankle is over the knee. Shift your weight to the side of the crossed leg, rolling over your glutes until you feel tension. Repeat on opposite side.

9. Lower back roll

In a seated position, place a foam roller under your lower back. Cross your arms in front of you and protract your shoulders. Raise your hips off the floor and lean back, keeping your weight on your lower back. Now roll over back and forward, keeping your weight off the spine and on the muscles to one side of it. Roll over your lower back. Repeat on the other side.

10. Chest roll

Place a foam roller on the floor. Lie face-down with the foam roller at shoulder height and extend one arm forward. With the foam roller just below your armpit, press your chest into the foam and roll in small movements and release tension in your chest. Roll back and forth on your chest, then extend your other arm and repeat.

InSync Physiotherapy is a multi-award winning health clinic helping you in Sports Injuries, Physiotherapy, Exercise Rehabilitation, Massage Therapy, Acupuncture & IMS.