Back pain from a Movement Analyst’s perspective

Photo by Jeremy Page, Flickr

Almost everyone has experience back pain at one time or another. Back pain has regularly been linked to reduced productivity. In the United States, lower back pain is the number one reason individuals under the age of 45 limit their activity. It is the second highest complaint seen in a physician’s office, the fifth most common requirement for hospitalization, and the third leading cause for surgery.

I often have clients come to me and ask me about back pain. They want to be “fixed.” They also want a quick answer, which unfortunately isn’t always possible.

Of course there are some easy “remedies” for the pain itself: ice, heat, pain killers, adjustments, massage, etc. But most of these are addressing the pain and not the real problem. Remember, pain is the body’s way of communicating that something is not right. If we are too quick to “mask” the pain we sometimes neglect the bigger picture until drastic measures have to be taken (hello, surgery).

Each person is unique. Each body is unique. Our daily schedules, hobbies, past injuries, and movement signature play into our physical experiences. There is usually no one-size-fits-all solution. However, there are a variety of “red-flags” that I look for at first glance:

  • Excessive binding/tension in the body (Ex: Tense shoulders, neck, hips, etc.)
  • Passivity (“dead weight”) in the body (Ex: collapsed ribs, “heavy heart,” etc.)
  • Inaccurate (or neglected) use of hip or shoulder joints
  • Spinal rigidity
  • Overly flexible spine
  • Lack of core support or missing Core-Distal connectivity (which, honestly, is usually behind most of these issues)

But probably the most common issue that seems to underlie any of the above (when working with the “general” population) goes back to a basic idea:

Use it or lose it.

So many spend their days slumped in front a screen of some sort. Repetitive tasks, sedentary lifestyles, and a general “disconnect” from our bodies is making a lot of people hurt.

So what can you do?

Well, for starters, start moving! You’ll hear this a lot from me, but it’s true: take a dance class, learn yoga, try martial arts, go running, walking, skipping, jump rope, play tag… just MOVE!

Of course I’d also recommend getting some outside help, especially if your experience chronic back pain. Find a movement analyst who can help get to your core issue and then design a program to help you reclaim your health. It may be the smartest thing you’ll ever do.

Okay, maybe I’m biased. But maybe I’m right, too.  🙂



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Robin is a Certified Laban/Bartenieff Movement Analyst (CLMA) and a Registered Somatic Movement Therapist (RSMT). With an MFA in Modern Dance from the University of Utah, a BA in Dance from Brigham Young University, and years of both private and higher education teaching under her belt, Robin brings an expansive view of movement and the human body to her work.
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