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          The pain and stiffness of back problems is felt in the back. But the cause of most back problems is tightness elsewhere, specifically in four places: the legs and pelvis, the arms and shoulders, the head and neck, and the abdomen.

by Lou Gross, School Certified Master Postural Integrator
27 years successful track record
For more information & free consultations, call 321-726-9083


     The main cause of all the back pain Iíve seen in the past 20 years comes from tight legs and pelvis
. This tightness, or shortness, makes the length of those muscles shorter than they should be, for a body to be "healthy." And it makes them compressed, squeezing inward toward the bones, which exacerbates the problems.       Read About Stretching Video

     Not only does this shortness restrict movement, but shortness in the muscles on the front of the legs pulls your body down toward the front. Then you will fall over forward unless you balance yourself. You do this by leaning your torso backward. This tightens your back.

     Likewise, shortness in the muscles on the back of the legs pulls your back down and toward the rear. So the tendency is to fall backward. To prevent this, your body has to compensate. It adds tension in the front of your legs and collapses part of your torso forward. Once you do this, youíll have to tighten your back some more to hold your head up.

     Both of these conditions cause back, shoulder and neck tightness. In severe cases, it also causes pain and disk or nerve problems. Everyone develops tight legs, even if their knee and hip joints feel loose, they have no back pain and theyíre in "good shape."

     Some doctors will tell you that the tightness in your legs is caused by the pinched nerves in your lower back. If you have pinched nerve pain, that is true. However, the nerves in the back are getting pinched in the first place by tight muscles puling the vertebrae too close together. That tightness comes from a more "original" tightness in the legs, pelvis and abdomen. Itís a condition that, for most people, was getting shorter and shorter long before they noticed any nerves getting pinched in the back.

     Once you start getting additional leg tightness from pinched nerves, the negative progression gets worse. In these conditions, I have found it fairly efficient, and even enjoyable for the client, to work in combination with a chiropractor or other physical medicine doctor who is familiar with my kind of treatment. I explain how Iíve done this in the appendix.

     Our arms and shoulders are connected to the back, chest and neck, through muscular inter-connections. When the arms are tight, as everyoneís get to be, the back also gets tight, all the way to the bottom of the spine. Arm tightness is rarely felt in the arms, but its effects are often felt as tightness in the upper back, neck and shoulders.

     The head is made up of 20 - 30 different bones and many muscles, which are all supposed to be able to move around a little bit. But everyone also seems to develop a tight head. This tightness extends into the muscles in the neck and then down the whole back. It especially tightens the neck and lower back.

     There are layers of muscles on the abdominal surface and also deep inside. Some of these connect directly to the vertebrae. When the abdominal area is tight, it also makes the lower back tight. Everybody gets tight abdominals, even flabby people and those whose bellies stick out. Back pains often get worse when people are fearful, upset or angry. Among other reasons, this happens because the emotions make the abdominal and lower back muscles tight. Through similar interconnections, digestive disorders and chronic constipation also make the lower back tight.

     All these back conditions also create rounded shoulders, tight chests, tight necks and tightness between the shoulder blades. Back tightness of any kind pulls vertebrae in the spine closer together, and into excessive curvature. In serious cases this causes slipped or damaged disks and pinched nerves.

     Often times, falls, injuries, operations and emotional tension seem to bring on back problems. But in most cases these incidents have only exaggerated an already tight condition. It was not yet sensed as already being short because it was not tight enough to cause pain. The extra tightening brought on by the incident shortens the structure so much more that pain sensors are then activated.

     ďOld age" is often given as the reason for back pain. But that only happens because it takes years of time for the tightness to accumulate to the point where pain sensors are activated. Itís been getting tighter all along. Arthritis of the spine is sometimes the diagnosed reason for back pain. But this only occurs when vertebrae are pulled too close together by chronically tight muscles. Even vertebrae with calcification on them, due to metabolic reasons, wonít cause pain if they arenít pulled so close together.

     In all these cases, the main problem is an ever increasing tight muscular structure, one that causes an imbalance in the personís vertical alignment. Simply stated, when other parts of your body are tight, you canít stand up straight without tightening your back! In the rest of the book Iíll explain just how this happens, how to fix it, and how to prevent it.


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         Let me explain why a lot of treatments give relief but donít last.  Most treatments for back problems are aimed directly at the back, such as massage, acupressure, chiropractic, surgery, and various kinds of physical therapy. Even most stretching, for back problems, is focused on stretching the back.
        These treatments are often helpful, but in many cases the condition doesnít get "all" better or the pain eventually returns. The problem is that the cause of the back tightness, the tight muscles elsewhere, have not also been lengthened. When some treatments take away the pain just for a while, and they only treat the back, they are treating the symptom and not the cause.


     When the cause is diminished, the back has to tighten less. In my own practice, I have had dozens of people say their back pain has significantly lessened or gone away after I worked on many body parts: their legs, arms, head, neck, abdomen and chest, as well as their backs. The idea, then, is to loosen both the back and the other tightness.

     When Structural Integration Bodywork is combined with other treatments like chiropractic and stretching, it makes them more effective. They do more because the Bodywork has softened and lengthened the fascia. This increases the musclesí length and makes it easier for the stretching to spread the fascia further. Since the shortness that kept the vertebrae from moving has been corrected, the chiropractor has an easier time getting a better spinal alignment and itíll stay in longer.

     So Structural Integration Bodywork is not exactly a therapy the way chiropractic and physical therapy are therapies. We donít put on salves or hot packs or give medicines to try to heal damaged tissue. And we donít look at spasms or tightness in a local area as an isolated condition.

     Our work is to help the personís body re-order itself from head to toe. We help the "network" of muscles, bones and fascia go toward the shape that makes the body structure the healthiest. And in that kind of health, there wonít be the conditions that cause many kinds of pain. In the book, I clearly explain how body structure "fits together" so you can understand the step by step Bodywork re-organizing process yourself.

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Do a lot for yourself !
Get the Structural Connective Tissue Stretching Video, too.
These are the stretches I teach to my clients and friends.
Most can even be done in seniors' classes as we did.

Includes how to stretch hard to reach areas and helps remove back pain,
 including telling what needs to be lengthened and why.
Helps remove the tightnesses that cause and aggravate
 pulled back muscles.  So they can heal better.
Helps get more out of yoga.

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Copyright 2002   Louis A. Gross   All Rights Reserved