Here at Yoga Tune Up®, we are firm believers in ‘Prehab’: healthy biomechanics and myofascial massage techniques that keep your tissues integrated and performing properly. We’ve blogged about how YTU can help with all kinds of sports, from golf and tennis to the endurance sports of Triathlons. Jill even created the Post-Athletic Stretch DVD for all kinds of athletes looking for freedom from pain. So whenever we find a fellow ‘body nerd’ – someone who’s as fascinated with the awe-inspiring mechanics of the human body as we are – we like to give a shout out!
Dr. Erik Dalton is a nationally recognized educator teaching effective techniques for the relief of pain through Myoskeletal Alignment and Myofascial Tissue Manipulation. Dr. Dalton’s Myoskeletal approach is definitely in line with ours, and we’d like to show you one of his videos that we found inspiring. Dr. Dalton demonstrates a technique to release the quadratus lumborum, which when excessively contracted can interfere with proper motion while walking (and watch especially for the graphic of the skeleton climbing the stairs as each muscle lights up when it is fired – it’s beautiful!). This particular video has a focus on golf and lower back pain.
Golf, much like yoga, retains an attraction into middle age and beyond, and understandably so. It asks both physical fitness of its players (but without the high impact of faster sports that become less accessible as we age) and the mental stamina to play a game that can last hours on end.
Unfortunately, it does come with one big problem: the golf swing is a biomechanical disaster (the author John Updike compared it to “a suitcase into which we are trying to pack too many things.”). Repeated spinal rotation and extension in the same direction, shot after shot and day after day, sets up enormous muscular imbalances in the lower back, shoulders and hips.
In addition, unless the player spent sufficient time warming up the muscles of the torso, there is not much other movement in golf to prepare the lower back for such deep and fast rotation. It’s no wonder that more than 50% of male golfers and 45% of female golfers suffer from lower back pain. The quadratus lumborum (or QL) is one of the ‘usual suspects’ for lower back pain caused by the golf swing (for a more detailed description of this muscle, see Jeff Lang’s blog on the lower back).
The YTU approach to releasing the QL is a perennial favorite pose of ours: the Sidewinder. The Sidewinder alternately contracts and stretches each side of the body, activating and releasing the QL, flushing the spinal cord with cerebrospinal fluid, and safely increasing mobility in the vertebrae.
While there are tons of expensive (and often invasive) treatments out there for relieving lower back pain, we believe that much of it can be prevented or remedied through proper stretch, strengthening and massage. Our goal here at YTU (and Dr. Dalton’s too it seems) is to provide you with the best movement and massage techniques to keep your lower back, as well as the rest of your body, healthy, happy and out of pain!