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Tight lower back


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<<Mod's note: I split this from the Pointe feet & knees thread>>


Well, this is comforting on one hand (or is it foot?) but brings another question to my mind. I have great feet and legs, according to this thread (I'll post a pic sometime so you know I'm not bragging, just saying "great" in the context of pointe work!) BUT, if my feet and ankles are so nice and flexible, and my knees are slightly hyperextended and pulled up well, WHY is my lower back so dern tight?


I'm sure this could be a whole new thread, so please move it if need be, but that is the biggest stumbling block in my ballet training so far. I really need to strengthen my lower back, but increase my flexibility at the same time. I'll take classes for weeks, or even months, make progress, feel great--then BOOM, my back locks up and I'm out of commission for weeks. Then it's like starting all over when I can get back to class.


I'm sure core work would help, but I can't do mat Pilates because I can't tip back on my tailbone as is called for in so much of it. And I've been reading that crunches don't help as much as they have been touted in the past. Any suggestions?


Lisa (who has this much in mind because she's going back to class today after one of the aforementioned back episodes! She hopes...)

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Lisa, has the problem with your back been diagnosed? Since it puts you out of class for a time, I think it would be good to know why. Just tight doesn't really tell us why you have these episodes. :thumbsup:

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I don't know if you could call it a diagnosis, but I've had x-rays and treatment from both a DO and a chiropractor. There's nothing structurally wrong, i.e. fractures, scoliosis, etc. The chiro says I have very tight back muscles, so he does manipulation and massage. The DO just does a manipulation and gives me anti-inflammatory drugs when it locks up. (I do tend to hold myself tensely all the time; in fact, I just noticed that I'm holding my entire face tight as I type.)


I'll go along fine for a while, then bend over to brush my teeth and my lower back will go into spasms and I can't straigten up. I've never hurt my back in ballet class. It's always something stupid like the teeth brushing or bending over to pick up a sock or something.


I guess I really have diverted this thread--sorry! It shold be in the medical group, but I'm just asking mostly to see if anyone else has had to deal with this, and whether it's a strength problem, a flexibility problem, or just one of those things that goes wonky in your body as you get older. What kicked it off was wondering why, if I'm so tight and inflexible everywhere else, do I have these good feet and ankles? :thumbsup:



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. What kicked it off was wondering why, if I'm so tight and inflexible everywhere else, do I have these good feet and ankles?


Hey Lisa, sometimes parts of your body compensates for other parts that are tight.


Have you tried yoga? (It actually makes me fall asleep, but people seem to like it for flexibility stuff).

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Many people who have what you describe have a tendency to tilt their pelvis back, so that the sitz bones are pointing backwards. I may be wrong but I bet some PT on a ball will help, along with some ab work and some release exercises.


If you're ever in my neck of the woods...

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Ah, Clara, but I AM! I live about 35 miles down I-71 from you! :blushing:


I happened to come across a back exercise book in the bargain section at Barnes & Noble today. Very informative, with muscle & skeleton illustrations & diagrams, discussions of why what hurts the way it does, and what to do about it. Your comment is almost an exact quote.


And I've had an exercise ball for about two months--I think tonight is the night I get hubby to inflate it with the compressor in the garage. It's about time.


OT: I was determined, absolutely determined to go to class today, but was just too tired and drained. I think it's the fibromyalgia, back problems, and depression giving me a triple whammy. A tiny part (well, not so tiny part :dry: ) of my brain says chocolate ice cream will make it all better, but I'm trying to ignore it and find something more positive to do.


I'll get off this thread now--I know I dragged it way OT.



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I have been recommended psoas stretches by my pilates/ballet teacher for lower back pain.

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I have a little more time to offer a little more input, being a lower-back disaster of sorts (I have three bulging discs at L2-3, 3-4 and 4-5 and subsequently strain the overlying muscles very easily)...


My chiro (wonder woman!) gave me a great exercise for strengthening which was wonderful when I had lost pretty much all muscle tone after barely moving for a year. The beginning stage of this exercise is to kneel on all fours, then extend one leg parallel behind you to horizontal (do not turn out!), return to all fours, then repeat with the opposite leg. Do this 20 times on each leg, every day. If you are stronger, you can do the same exercise lifting the opposite arm to horizontal at the same time you lift the leg. After time, you can add light ankle weights. This exercise works the postural muscles and is also wonderful when my lower back is feeling sore as it gets the blood flowing.


I also find that having a good hamstring, calf and glute stretch is good if my lower back is tight.


But, it is very important to find out what is going on as previously mentioned- have a CT scan or an MRI to have a look at your joints & muscles- lower back pain is not fun!


Good luck!

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(I do tend to hold myself tensely all the time; in fact, I just noticed that I'm holding my entire face tight as I type.)


Aha! There's a clue right there! Have you ever had a psychological workup done to see if you're tensing your muscles as part of a generalized reaction to stress? Some people are so tense that they even grind their teeth in their sleep. That sort of thing can get in the way of successful dancing, too!

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Mr. Johnson, if that is the case - a tensing of muscles as part of a generalized reaction to stress - what could one do about that?


Sometimes simple awareness of something helps towards changing it, but I wonder if it would work here, too.




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It might!


The general advice, "relax", does occur to me, but some people are so accustomed to stress, that being told to relax can another layer of stress for them. If one can't "do-it-yourself", then that's the time to seek aid from health professionals.

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The best way I have found to get my students to relax is get them to use their breathing correctly, and to smile. :lol: It's really hard to tense up and smile at the same time. :)

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