Saturday, April 13, 2013

Lower back pain? Try this ...

Over the years, like most of us, I have suffered the odd twist of the lower back. You know the kind of thing ... picking up something heavy the wrong way, twisting around awkwardly. When I was younger the pain lasted a day or too, a few tender days, then back to normal. As I get older the healing process takes longer.
Daily taijiquan and gigong have helped immensely. Far fewer episodes of back ache (or shoulder ache, or arm ache, or any kind of ache). But every now and then ...
A couple of weeks ago I spent a day writing. A whole day. In the same position. On a chair, I know now, was not right for my back! The result was a lot of lower back pain that lasted over a week.
I talked to my sifu, Master Jesse Tsao. As always, Jesse was very helpful. I hope this helps anyone who suffers from lower back pain.
Much lower back pain arises because we hold our center of gravity above the hips. The effect is a lot of pressure bearing down on the lower back muscles. Solution? Lower the center of gravity. But how?
a) Lowering posture helps. Just an inch lower is all that is needed. To lower the posture we need to unlock the knees and hip area (kua). Daily knee rotation and massage. Daily hip rotation. Getting looser.
b) Paying attention to breathing, particularly the out breath. Breath out all the way. The physical effect is to lift the diaphragm and tighten the tummy. As you do that you feel your center getting lower.
c) Intention. In your mind see your center getting lower. Master Jesse says to keep the center below the hips. Some taiji masters keep their center below the knees. The effect is to make the legs quite "heavy" and solid, the hips flexible (they are not taking the weight), and the upper body light. This relieves a lot of pressure on the lower back muscles. Try it. It really works.
Stay well and centered.