Let’s get right to it: the best way to treat the lower back is to NOT treat the lower back.

American culture wants us to believe that quick fixes are the best way to do something. When it comes to the back, many of the ways professionals treat the low back do not address the underlying issues. Instead, they try to make the low back feel better.

Traditional Back Pain Treatments Rarely Work

Back pain is primarily a symptom and rarely a cause. You’re familiar with many of these traditional “fixes:”

  • Medication (like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and opioids)
  • Ice packs and heating pads
  • Acupuncture
  • Massage
  • Traditional stretching
  • Electrical stimulation
  • The old adage of “working through it”

Time and again, these recommendations don’t work or only offer temporary relief—and some carry potential risks and negative side effects.

If you want real results, you must treat back pain as a symptom and identify the underlying cause of your clients’ or patients’ back pain. Applied Functional Science® can help.

A Functional Approach to Treating and Evaluating Lower Back Pain

Have you or a friend ever had any of the following happen?

  • Sat for a while, got up to walk, and experienced low back pain.
  • Went to take a step to the side and the low back experienced pain.
  • Simply reached back and around from the front seat to grab something in the back seat and the low back got hurt.

The real question is why does this happen? The answer is found in Applied Functional Science (AFS) and how the body really moves and reacts.

Rather than rely on protocols, AFS assesses the body’s movement in all three planes. It also considers the body holistically, recognizing that a Chain Reaction® in the body can lead to unexpected and unwanted consequences in other areas (like the back).

RELATED: Experiencing Back Pain? Look to the Hip for Answers

Identifying the Lumbar Spine’s Chain Reactions

The low back or lumbar spine does not move much in the Transverse Plane yet does move (relatively speaking) a decent amount in the Sagittal Plane and Frontal Plane. However, the lumbar spine’s neighbors – the hips and the thoracic spine – move a great amount in all three planes of motion.

Due to life’s demands, you might sit often, or your body might shut down due to fatigue or tightness. When this happens, the low back tends to take the hit and goes through abnormal motion. If the hips are tight or the thoracic spine is immobile, and the body is asked to do something (walk, step to the side, reach around to the back seat), the low back, due to not having tons of motion available, goes through abnormal motion to accomplish the task at hand and gets injured.

Local to Global Progressions Can Improve Your Clients’ and Patients’ Back Pain

Gray Institute® put AFS and the body’s Chain Reactions on the map. Our functional approach is based on science and not tradition. In our Certification in Applied Functional Science (CAFS), we discuss the body’s systematic demonstration of biomechanics and movement, focusing on how the parts move with the rest of the body. Whether you are studying the feet, ankles, knees, hips, lumbar spine, thoracic spine, cervical spine, or shoulders, these “Local to Global” progressions can improve human movement.

The Local to Global progression specific to the thoracic spine focuses on Type 1 (lateral flexion and rotation opposite one another) and Type 2 (lateral flexion and rotation in same direction) positioning and facilitation of the thoracic spine. The progression then moves to specific lunges (think about how this facilitates hip motions) while driving the hands in all three planes (think about how this facilitates the thoracic spine to flex, extend, right laterally flex, left laterally flex, right rotate, and left rotate). The progression finishes with doing something similar from a single leg balance position.

The following Vlog showcases the latter movements while further explaining the Chain Reaction Biomechanics of the hips and the thoracic spine, allowing us to further understand and appreciate the effects on the low back. Here’s the name of the game: get the best friends of the low back – its neighbors, the hips and thoracic spine – to move and control motion in all three planes so that the low back is not put at risk.

RELATED: Why Choose a Certification in Applied Functional Science?

Ready to Learn More About Our Body’s Chain Reactions? Discover CAFS

If you’re intrigued by the truths of Applied Functional Science, CAFS is for you. This certification introduces you to a revolutionary and science-based approach to movement and biomechanics. This course can improve your assessments, workouts, treatment recommendations, and deepen your understanding of human movement.

Dr. Gary Gray, founder of Gray Institute, introduced AFS more than four decades ago—and has been changing the lives of movement professionals ever since. If you would like to learn more about Applied Functional Science and our continuing education courses, contact us today. We’re excited to speak with you!