Long-term or permanent relief from back and neck pain is possible – by treating the system, not the symptom
Have you ever wondered how many people suffer from back and neck pain in their lifetime? As a general guide, the accepted international figure is approximately 85% of the population in modern western society. It’s a major reason for consultations with a doctor, osteopath, chiropractor, physiotherapist, acupuncturist or remedial therapist.
Some of the commonly accepted reasons for why so many individuals suffer from back and neck pain are:
- Poor sitting and/or standing habits
- Lack of daily movement and proper exercise
- Repetitive inappropriate activity like carrying heavy loads
- Injury or accident, causing spinal misalignment
- Musculoskeletal imbalances
- Degeneration of spinal vertebrae
- Osteoarthritis and rheumatism
- Inflammation of nerves in the neck and back
- Poor diet, lacking appropriate specific micro-nutrients
- Emotional stress
There is an important link between back and neck pain conditions. Understanding the process of spinal development will show the reason why.
At the moment of fertilisation a measurable electrical polarity is established across the fertilised egg along a very specific axis that divides the egg into two equal halves. This electrical polarity guides the development of new cells, tissues, and systems, finally manifesting as the cranio-sacral flows that can be detected in us by holding certain points on the head and base of the spine.
Interestingly, if we follow the migration of the cells clustered around the positive and negative poles in the single fertilised egg, into when it becomes a more recognisable miniature human, at approximately 12 weeks the cells adjacent to the positive pole in the single fertilised egg form the cranium and the brain, while the cells adjacent to the negative pole form the tip of the vertebral spinal column, namely the coccyx. The axis that once formed the pathway for communication in the fertilised egg unfolds into the spinal column and its membranes, ligaments and muscles. At every step of the way ‘integration’ is the guiding mantra of the living organism and it achieves this both profoundly and thoroughly at all levels.
That such specific integration exists in the human organism is not a fluke, but an evolutionary phenomena without which there would be no organism, let alone the ability for it to be able to regulate and sustain itself throughout a lifetime.
Back and neck pain
After successfully treating several thousands of individuals over 30 years for back and neck pain, I am convinced that profoundly intimate levels of connectivity exist in the human body regarding the vertebral spinal column, cranium, and pelvic girdle (containing the sacrum and coccyx) and indeed there are many specific associations at and between every level.
If we have pain at the bottom of the vertebral spinal column at the level of the lower back, a reciprocal imbalance will be detectable at a corresponding level in the neck.
An individual may suffer from back pain and perhaps not neck pain, nevertheless inflammatory tissue will be evident in the neck. And the same rule applies if an individual who suffers from neck pain but not necessarily back pain. Again inflammatory tissues will be evident in the lower back.
If manipulation techniques are applied to just the back or just the neck, the relief may be short lived, but if the correct manipulation techniques are applied the vertebral spinal column as an integrated unit, then quick pain relief with long term sustainability of corrections becomes possible.
Many (not all) chiropractors adjust the spinal column by applying a high velocity thrust causing a cracking sound. This is typically accompanied by pressure being reduced on nerves by bones and the patient feeling less or no pain and a sense of flexibility. The corrections may last a few hours, a few days, or a few weeks, but ongoing sessions are typically required to keep things in balance.
Alternatively, many forms of osteopathy adjust the spine via manipulation of the soft tissues surrounding the spine and little or no cracking is produced. Manipulating, or using acupuncture needles in painful spots in the muscles – called trigger points – can also bring about relief.
Bowen Therapy and NST (Neurostructural Integration Technique, an osteopathic version of Bowen Therapy) removes pain by applying sequences of specifically placed gentle rolling movements along the spine plus arms, legs, pelvis, and jaw. The spine and body as a whole goes into an automatic unraveling process (auto-regulation) that entices the human organism to access its ‘blueprint’ and return to an optimal point of balance. For the high percentage of individuals who receive NST, relief can be immediate and lasting. Most typically the vast majority of individuals require just 1-3 sessions of 30-45 minutes to enjoy long term relief from back and neck pain, plus a myriad of other ailments.
NST’s application is firmly rooted in the philosophy that ‘symptoms’ are manifestations of the ‘system’ having lost its integration at one level or the other. Its main aim is to correct tensional relationships between nerves, muscles, and bones that have manifested in the body due to poor postural habits, injury, and poor lifestyle habits or via modern day psychosomatic stresses. Regardless of the symptoms that patients might present with, (back pain, neck pain, auto-immune issues, menstrual disorders, digestive disorders, headaches etc), the whole system is evaluated and adjusted. NST is suitable for all conditions, acute and chronic, and for all age groups from newborn babies to the elderly.
It’s not always possible to get to see a therapist when we need one. So it’s a great idea to know how to relieve pain by stretching or unlocking those parts of the body that will tend to create a more ‘systematic’ effect by gently adjusting both ends of the spinal column.
The following series of exercises have been adapted from classical yoga postures. When performed they create a wonderful unlocking of the spinal column and body generally.
- Drink a large glass (300-400ml) of pure water fifteen minutes before doing this sequence, and within five minutes of its completion. This will assist with lymphatic drainage, nerve and muscle function, flexibility and vitality, hence maximising beneficial results.
- Wear soft, loose, and comfortable clothing, which is not too bulky.
- Never push beyond sensible limits! If at any time you experience undue strain or pain, immediately stop, and gently come out of whatever position you are in. A re-attempt may be carried out the following day and the same precaution should be observed.
All positional releases will be greatly facilitated by gentle rhythmic breathing throughout. This is done by slowly inhaling and exhaling, exclusively through the nostrils.
Simply follow the steps indicated before each illustration below. Remember to repeat the positional release three times before taking a rest of one minute between each step. The designated resting periods are important to enable the muscles to effectively respond to the postural release just carried out. Resting time may be increased if desired, but not reduced.
For problematic situations, try taking some Magnesium Phosphate 6D, homeopathic Tissue Salt. This simple natural product will help to quickly relieve muscle spasms and cramps.
1. Lower body releases for lower back, sacrum and pelvis
Repeat these sequences three times and then rest for a full minute in a face down position with arms long by side and head to one side.
Lie face down with your elbows bent as if beginning a normal push up. Slowly push your body off the floor until you feel resistance in the lower back. Your abdomen and legs should remain in contact with the floor. Breathe slowly and rhythmically (nostrils only) while holding the position for 10-20 seconds then gently release, returning to rest in original position for 10-20 seconds.
Beginning on all fours, slowly move into the illustrated position. Push the leading knee/forward until a stretch is felt in the hips and/or groin and hold. Breathe slowly and rhythmically (nostrils only) while holding the position for 10-20 seconds, then slowly release returning to rest in original position (all fours) for 10-20 seconds. Repeat on opposite side.
Begin by laying flat on your back, then slowly move into the illustrated position (ankle twisted across opposite knee). Slowly bring the lower leg towards the head causing a stretch in the buttocks on the twisted leg side, and hold. Breathe slowly and rhythmically (nostrils only) while holding the position for 10-20 seconds, then slowly release returning to rest in original position (flat on back) for 10-20 seconds. Repeat on opposite side.
Begin by laying flat on your back, then slowly move into the illustrated position (ankle twisted across opposite knee, body rotated looking over diagonally opposite shoulder and hand flat on floor). Using the elbow of the free arm, push it back into the side of the twisted leg to create more of a torque in the back and hold. Breathe slowly and rhythmically (nostrils only) while holding the position for 10-20 seconds, then slowly release returning to rest in original position (flat on back) for 10-20 seconds. Repeat on opposite side.
Begin in a sitting position, then slowly move into the illustrated position. Bring the soles of the feet together and hold in place with the hands. Pull the body forward to create a mild stretch in the groin and lower back and hold. Breathe slowly and rhythmically (nostrils only) while holding the position for 10-20 seconds. Then release returning to rest in original position (sitting resting on hands) for 10-20 seconds.
2. Upper body releases for upper back, neck and shoulders
Repeat these sequences three times and then rest in a sitting position for one minute.
Begin in a sitting or standing position. Gently and slowly pull the chin into the chest. From this position slowly and gently commence slow circular motions with a tendency to stretch the head to the shoulders and back. Go in one direction for 3-5 times. Stop and then repeat the same in the opposite direction. Rest for 10-20 seconds breathing rhythmically throughout (nostrils only).
Begin in a sitting or standing position. Place the hand around the opposite side of the head gently pulling the head towards the left shoulder to stretch the neck and shoulder muscles. Breathe slowly and rhythmically (nostrils only) while holding the position for 10-20 seconds. Then release and return head to rest in original position (in the middle) for 10-20 seconds. Repeat on the opposite side.
Begin in a sitting or standing position. Place two fingers on the chin and push downwards. Simultaneously, gently raise your head against your fingers causing a stretch in the muscles at the back of the neck. Hold here. Breathe slowly and rhythmically (nostrils only) and hold the position for 10-20 seconds. Release and return the head to rest in original position (in the middle) for 10-20 seconds.
Begin in a sitting or standing position with arms straight. Using small, slow, circular motions, roll one shoulder in a backwards directions 3-5 times. Stop momentarily, and then roll the shoulder in a forward direction 3-5 times. Rest for 10-20 seconds breathing rhythmically throughout (nostrils only). Repeat on the opposite side.
Begin in a sitting or standing position with arm pulled across the upper body as illustrated. Hold the position for 10-20 seconds while gently stretching the shoulder muscles and breathing rhythmically throughout (nostrils only). Repeat on the opposite side.
When performed slowly and correctly the complete sequence should take approximately 30 minutes. However, it can be reduced to 15 minutes by simply performing fewer repetitions and having shorter breaks.
Once the sequence is finished a 10-15 minute walk will help deepen muscle and nerve integration and maintain results. Another glass of water after the sequence will help to improve general muscle and nerve integration and lymphatic drainage.
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