A hidden source of lower back pain…
- It’s not your muscles.
- Or your discs.
- It won’t show up on an MRI.
- Your chiropractor doesn’t fix it with an adjustment.
- And you can’t take a pill to treat it.
Yet… it can be a major contributor to lower back problems.
It’s your connective tissues.
The connective tissues wrap, strap, and brace things together, and transfer forces from one body part to another. Examples of connective tissue include
- your tendons and ligaments that convey muscle force to a bone and keep the bones in an organized relationship to each other
- the stout bands that steady the outside of your thigh to allow you to stand up (called the fascia lata)
- the strapping that connects the two bones of your forearm (the interosseous membrane)
- the abdominal wall that keeps your guts from spilling out (called – you guessed it – the abdominal wall)
- the tight membrane surrounding your body and forming the anchoring base for your skin (the subcutaneous fascia)
- the dura mater lining the brain
- the plantar fascia, which stabilizes the arch of your foot
- the lumbodorsal fascia, which braces the lower back, and
- much, much more.
The connective tissues convey movement from one body part to another. That means if your connective tissues are out of balance, your body movement is out of balance too. Then you’ll get excess pressure on certain joints. And your muscles will be at a mechanical disadvantage and be more likely to overwork.
The connective tissues have your blood vessels and nerves embedded in them. So connective tissue imbalance will interfere with blood flow and nerve transmission.
The connective tissues are rich in nerve endings. That means that your connective tissues can be a direct source of pain in and of themselves, in addition to the effect they have on your other body parts.
White blood cells and other immune system elements wander through your connective tissues, waiting to be called into action elsewhere in the body. Connective tissue problems will inhibit a robust immune response.
Your connective tissue tells a story. But only to those who can decipher it.
The texture and pliability of each zone of connective tissue records the history of specific stresses your body’s been subject to. But it takes a practitioner with extensive experience to make sense of the story. It’s analagous to wandering inside a newly-discovered Egyptian pyramid – you know the hieroglyphics mean something important, but only an archaeologist with years of experience can interpret them.
Here’s what you can do to take care of your connective tissues:
Become good friends with a foam roller specially designed for connective tissue self-treatment.
You can lie on your roller and it will work out the kinks in your connective tissues. Place it under your mid-back (for instance), then breathe and relax as you let gravity take over. The roller will apply therapeutic pressure to the connective tissue knots on either side of your spine. You can also use it under your gluteal or outer thigh region. Or anywhere in the body.
Your body will appreciate it!