What Causes Muscle Strain and Muscle Pain in Your Back?

If our muscles get out of balance – some too tense or tight, and others too loose or flacid – it is easy to have muscle strain.

Here is an example.  You may recognize this pain that lots of us experience:  The one on your back, between your spine and your shoulder blade.  If you are right-handed, it will be on your right side.

It feels like a knot, and almost feels like it is burning.  Do you know that pain?

Here is what happened.  The muscles in the front of your body, chest and arm, and probably your neck, become shorter and tighter.  This occurs because most of the time we hold our heads our arms in front of our bodies.   That makes the muscles in front become tight.

Unless you work to strengthen your back muscles, your tighter, stronger front muscles will win the body war.  They will make your body shorter in front and these shortened muscles will “pull” on the weaker muscles in your back.

Your back muscles are getting stretched because they are not as strong as your front muscles.  Your back muscles go into a type of contraction, or spasm, to keep from being damaged by further stretching.  The stretching strains the back muscles.

You feel the contraction as pain or burning.  Your body is complaining.  It says, “Please fix me!”

So, when an area is stretched for a long time, or overstretched, the result is muscle strain.

How can you fix this? Continue reading “What Causes Muscle Strain and Muscle Pain in Your Back?”

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Simple Strengthening Tip #3 for Upper Back Pain Relief

There is a reason for your upper back pain.

Most of the time we hold our shoulders in a forward position.  Our head and shoulders are in front of our body during virtually all of our activities.

As a result, the muscles in our back get overstretched.  Then those muscles hurt and complain.  They don’t like being overstretched.

Strengthening your upper back will help prevent having pain in your shoulders.  Here’s a simple way to get a strong back.  And, the best part of it is, you can do it lying down!

So, get comfortable on your bed.  Lay on your back.

Gently press your shoulder blades into your bed.  Press them toward your spine.

Can you feel your shoulder blades (scapulae) moving?  If you’re not used to moving your blades, it may take some practice to get them to move and to feel them moving.   Rolling Continue reading “Simple Strengthening Tip #3 for Upper Back Pain Relief”

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Simple Strengthening Tip #2 – Pumping to Strengthen Your Backside

The first time I watched an exercise video that used small pumping movements I thought, “ha! That won’t do anything.”

I tried it and as I followed along, I thought, “ha! This isn’t doing anything.”

I was wrong.  So very, very wrong.

I was so sore the next day.  Those simple little pumping movements create a lot of muscle activity, quickly.

Since the muscles we most need to build are those in back of our body, those are the ones we’ll talk about.  These are the muscles that hold us upright, straight and strong.

Here’s how to use these simple little pumping movements.

To strengthen the back side of your upper arm:  Lift your elbow slightly so it is behind you.  Squeeze your shoulder blades a bit toward your spine.

Now, lift your elbow just a little bit more, then go back to your starting point. Lift, lift, lift, lift.  Each pumping movement is that quick.  You can do both arms at the same time.

To strengthen the backside of your thigh and gluteals (buttocks):

Lift Continue reading “Simple Strengthening Tip #2 – Pumping to Strengthen Your Backside”

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Simple Strengthening Tip #1 – Neck Pain Relief

Do you have neck pain?

There are many causes for neck pain, but here is a very common cause and a simple strengthening solution.

Often our heads get “stuck” in a forward position.  This happens because of the way we hold our head for long periods.  The muscles both in front and in back of our necks can cause distress for us.

The front/side neck muscles attach from collar bone at the “notch” to our skull behind our ears.  The back neck muscles attach to our skull.

When we are in this “forward head” position, the muscles in the back of our neck can get weak and overstretched.

Here is a simple tip to strengthen the muscles in the back of our neck.  When these muscles are strong, they help us hold our head upright.

  1. Lie on your back.  Your bed is fine.  Use no pillow or the flattest pillow possible for your comfort (only if you absolutely need to.)
  2. Rock your head slowly by Continue reading “Simple Strengthening Tip #1 – Neck Pain Relief”
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Simple Strengthening for Your Shoulders to Relieve Shoulder Pain

All day long we are very often stuck in one position.  Our shoulders get tired and ache.

If we are a new mom, the position we are stuck in might be holding our baby.  If we work at a desk, it could be leaning over the desk.  If we are a mechanic or line worker or cook, it is using our hands in front of us all day while we look at our work or project.

So, our shoulders and heads get “stuck” in front of us.

Our poor back suffers as a result.  Muscles don’t like being in that position.

To lift your head, pretend a hook is pulling you skyward.  The hook is attached to your breastbone, near the top of your chest.

To do really nice things for your shoulders, lift them up and roll them back and down.  Since our shoulders are in front of our bodies all day, instead of out to our sides where they belong, moving them backward – toward our spine – is a good counter-move for them.

Lifting and rolling our shoulders back and down does several good things Continue reading “Simple Strengthening for Your Shoulders to Relieve Shoulder Pain”

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Can Your Mind Make Your Body Strong?

I had a client who was paralyzed.  All Gloria could do was talk and eat, when someone gave food to her.

But, boy, could she ever visualize!

She would actually visualize herself exercizing so well that she would make her muscles ache.

When I would see her, she would say, “Oh, I am so sore.  I did fifteen repetitions.”  She would tell me which exercise she had “done.”

Every time, I would say, “Gloria, if you would just “do” one, instead of fifteen, you would not be sore.”  She would tell me that she knew, but it just felt so good.

She had done the movements only in her mind, yet she did them with such imagination and with such belief, that her body responded as though she was actually, physically doing them.

Research has been done with athletes who practice “only in their mind” while hooked up to monitoring devices.  The monitoring machines show the same kind of muscle response that they would have if they were actually performing the exercise.

If you can put yourself into a relaxed state, a meditative state, you can visualize yourself doing things with your muscles that you might not yet be able to do very well.  When you are that relaxed, your muscles won’t know the difference between really moving or imagining that you are moving.  They will get the same message.

Your muscles will start to become re-activated.  They will start to become strong.

What is visualization? Continue reading “Can Your Mind Make Your Body Strong?”

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Does Your Back Cause Your Headache Or Migraine?

When your head starts hurting, do you ever think about your back?

Do you wonder why your head is hurting?  Do you notice that your back aches, or feels tight, at or around the same time?  Are your shoulders tight, too?

Here’s how it works, in a nutshell.  If we get out of balance – if our posture gets out of neutral – then our back will start to complain.  If we are doing some form of poor posture, like slouching, our back won’t like it.  It gets overstretched.  The muscles in our back will then get tight, or contract, to keep from becoming way too overstretched.

Since our body is all one unit, when one area is tight it will pull on other areas.  When the tight back muscles pull on our shoulders, the shoulder muscles get tight, too.  And guess where the shoulders and back muscles pull?  Why, on your neck and head, of course.

And then you have a headache.

There is a simple solution to all of this.  All you have to do is correct your posture so you don’t get back strain or headaches.

It might not sound so simple to you, but it really is!  We used to be Continue reading “Does Your Back Cause Your Headache Or Migraine?”

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