A lot of us sit in chairs a lot of the time. Our bodies adapt to the position we spend all that time seated in. I learned quite a while ago that if I sat on a ball and crossed my legs and gritted through the discomfort it caused that I would have relief. Using a simple tool (the ball) was an example of what is called “mobility work.” In doing this work I learned that I could choose to feel less pain.
While I cannot make any promises or give any medical advice I can tell you that I recommend some sort of mobility work to just about anybody. Mobility work can involve different tools such as foam rollers, balls (of various sizes and densities), and practices (such as static and active stretching as well as “controlled articular rotations”) that involve no equipment at all.
I have learned a lot over the years from more public figures such as Dr. Andreo Spina (creator of Kinstretch), Dr. Emily Splichal (founder of Naboso), Dr. Kelly Starrett (of “The Ready State” fame), and Katy Bowman (author of many great books including “Move Your DNA” – and a fantastic podcast of the same name). I have also learned quite a bit from local coaches and my own self-experiments on my living room floor. As I have personally experimented and studied the topic of mobility work over the years I have learned two important things that keep me recommending it to other people.
The first thing is that I can affect my own pain and discomfort through some (sometimes very simple) exercises and activities that almost seem too good to be true. This means you can too.
The second is that these activities “working” tell me something about how I got into the position where I needed them to work in the first place.
I mentioned sitting in the beginning. I have found that if I give my glute-medius and piriformis some attention (doing some mobility work to address those specific muscles) that the low back tension and pain I develop from sitting in a chair too long will be greatly reduced. This however was what led me to begin sitting in chairs less.
While it was great to find a way to reduce my pain and discomfort with something as simple as five minutes and a ball it was highly instructive to think about what kept getting things so tight that the exercises were needed/ would work in the first place.
Now I know we do not have all the control over our environment that we might wish we had. But there is something beautiful in learning about how things work. If sitting is a factor in your low back pain you may or may not feel like you have a lot of say in how much you can choose to sit in a chair during the course of the day (as opposed to moving around). But if you never learn that there is a connection between sitting and your back pain then you have no real practical say in the matter at all.
I am a believer that all of us can make positive change in our lives and the lives of those around us. I think that the more we learn the better we can serve. Now sometimes you really need to see a medical professional. If you have pain and are not sure- you should probably go see one. But that does not mean that you are powerless and it does not mean that your choices do not matter. It is your body and only you get to and have to live inside of it. There are sometimes more tools to work with than we realize. Sometimes I really can choose to feel less pain and that leaves more of me available to help others. I call that a win and I want that for you too.