Do you get low back pain with skiing? This could be why!
posted: Nov. 11, 2021.
FIRST LETS LOOK AT STABLE AND MOBILE REGIONS; WHAT ARE THEY?
The human body can be described as a sequence of stable segments connected together by mobile joints (see picture below). If this pattern is altered, dysfunction and compensation may occur. This concept was first introduced by Gray Cook and Mike Boyle.
If we take a look at this picture, you'll notice different regions of the body classified as mobile and stable regions. Mobile, meaning they can handle a lot of motion and handle motion very well, and stable meaning they are there more for support and have very more limited motion. An example of a mobile joint is the hip, where the femur meets the acetabulum of the pelvis forming a ball and socket joint, as seen in the photo below. The hip joint, when healthy should be able to move in all directions, or multiple planes of motion. When a region acts differently than it should, say a stable joint acting mobile, injury and pain often occur...
This principle is important when it comes to human locomotion (movement). We are going to look at the action of skiing and how dysfunction or compensation can occur, resulting in low back pain. Low back pain is one of the most common injuries skiers experience, aside from knee and wrist injuries from falling. We are going to go over two reasons injury to the low back occurs from skiing and how you can prevent them.
REASON #1: MOBILE JOINTS NOT BEING MOBILE... STABLE JOINTS NOT BEING STABLE
The lumbar spine (The low back) is surrounded by mobile regions, that being the mid back and the hips (as seen in the photo above). While skiing, the hips joints are constantly having to rotate during actions such as turning or stopping. This motion is great for the hips, because by design the hips are mobile joints, meaning they like a lot of motion, in all directions. If your hips don't have the necessary rotational mobility, compensation will likely occur. That motion is often made up in the lumbar spine.
This is a problem, because of the structure of the lumbar vertebrae. Their bony facet joints only allow for bending and extending in one direction, meaning they do not like rotation, they are classified as a stable region. When repetitive rotation or lateral bending occur, due to mobility lost in the hips or mid back, it can cause pain and injury in the soft tissues and facet joints in the lumbar spine, resulting in low back pain.
REASON #2: LACK OF CORE STRENGTH
Many people either don't know about, or struggle with the ability to stabilize their core, resulting in the lumbar spine not being a great stable region. Core strength should not be looked at as having six pack abs and being able to do a hundred crunches. Core strength is the ability to create intra abdominal pressure (think of bracing your core right before getting hit in the stomach). If you are able to create this intra abdominal pressure, it will prevent unwanted movement of the lumbar spine, potentially preventing injury. Imagine trying to bend over while wearing a coreset, the lumbar spine is very protected and very stable, this is essentially what the pressure build up and the core muscles are doing for your lumbar spine, hence why it's so important to stabilize during strenuous activities.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR YOU?
If you have experienced low back pain from skiing and are worried about it slowing you down this upcoming season, it could be due to the reasons we discussed. The good news is, both of these possible reasons for pain are very manageable.
- The first reason we discussed, lack of mobility resulting in dysfunction and compensation can be treated by using mobilization techniques such as chiropractic adjustments, corrective exercises to do at home, or modalities such as Active Release Technique, Dry Needling or Graston Technique performed at Gallatin Valley Chiropractic designed to improve motion in the restricted joints.
- If you lack core strength there are great exercises to do such as planking, dead bugs or bird dogs that can be done to start stabilizing the low back. If you have any questions on how to perform these exercises, our doctors would be happy to go over them with you to ensure that they are being performed correctly, targeting the right muscles.
If this article relates to you and you want to potentially avoid pain this upcoming ski season, we at Gallatin Valley Chiropractic would love to help you!
Call us: 406-551-2177
Schedule online at: https://appointments.mychirotouch.com/?clinic=GVCL0001
- Picture credit: Drew at Kinetic Rehab (https://www.kirehab.com/services/shoulder-pain)
- Concept first created introduced by Gray Cook and Mike Boyle.