Currently viewing the tag: "low back pain"

Being an avid exerciser for decades, as well as a sports chiropractor for going on fifteen years, I have seen my fair share poor form SNAFUs. Improper form when working out can lead to injuries, from the minor, to the severe, to the flat-out serious. Here are ten of the worst offenders causing sports injuries to walk into my West Hollywood Sports Chiropractic Clinic:

hamstring (Copy)

Wrong! Rounding the back while stretching hamstrings can lead to herniated discs. I know he’s old; he probably shouldn’t be doing that version…find the stretch right for your level.

stand-ham-stretch-male (Copy)

Perfect! Back straight and leg at proper height to maintain arch. No matter which version you do, maintaining back arch of utmost importance.

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Achy, sore neck and upper back following a long day in front of the computer?  Work at a desk and at day’s end feel like your head weighs a ton?  Perhaps you’re a student, head down, nose in the books all day long…that can certainly cause a stiff neck.  Architect?  Lots of driving?  T.V. in bed?  All these activities are common causes of neck and upper back pain and discomfort.

A perfect exercise to help the office worker, student, computer junkie, or couch crasher is something called the Brugger relief position.  This position works by engaging the postural muscles of the spine, holding the body upright.  While it may be uncomfortable for a few people at first (habitual slouchers), engaging the postural muscles takes pressure off the ligaments, which hold the spine up during slouching, and ultimately leads to upper back pain relief.

Watch the video below to see how to properly do the Brugger relief position at home or at work.  Do this exercise every day, minimum five times, until your body is used to the posture.  Then you can do the exercise whenever you start to feel stiff or sore in the neck or upper back.  This exercise does wonders for low back pain, too.

I often have to explain overpronation to a number of my Los Angeles, Beverly Hills and West Hollywood chiropractic clients.  I have finally found a video (please see below) that does a great job illustrating what happens to the feet during the gait cycle when overpronation is an issue.

Overpronation is an excessive turning in of the feet (to be more accurate for you doctors out there–pronation a combination of eversion, abduction and dorsiflexion).  Pronation is a natural movement that we all do (or are supposed to do, anyway) during the foot-strike phase of the gait cycle (walking).  Pronation is necessary to adapt to the surface of the ground when we take a step.

Overpronators, then, turn their foot in excessively causing a chain of events occurring up the foot, leg and thigh, and eventually into the back, which can lead to excessive wear and tear on joints and cause pain.  Some common maladies attributable to overpronation are:

The real way to correct overpronation, and thus prevent any of the above issues from becoming chronic and leading to breakdown, is the use of custom-made orthotics.  Despite a current trend toward believing (hoping?) that barefoot running is the solution to all foot dysfunction, low back pain, goiter, syphilis and every other malady of the modern world, I can assure you I have seen nothing better for resolving musculoskeletal problems caused by overpronation than orthotics (and, believe me, people have been trying).

Watch the video below to get a clear picture of what is happening during overpronation.

When it comes to strengthening the lower back, Pilates swimming mat exercises beat straight back extensions every time.  So says a recent study out of Brazil, which looked at Pilates mat exercises to distinguish which was the best exercise to increase strength and endurance of the lumbar spine paraspinal muscles (multifidi to be exact).  We know that by strengthening the spinal stabilizers of the low back–paraspinals and abdominals (the core)–chronic low back pain can be resolved and prevented.

The study involved measuring muscle activity during three Pilates mat exercises with surface electromyography (sEMG).  The three exercises were (all done face down):

  1. swimming (great video here)–essentially a cross-crawl pattern of lifting opposite side arm and leg while extending the back, alternating sides through several repetitions
  2. single leg kick–the subject’s back arched, supporting herself with forearms on the floor, flexing one foot then the other in a repeating pattern
  3. double leg kick–the subject moving from head and shoulders down and knees bent, to her back fully arched and arms extended behind her, and then back to head down/knees bent in an alternating manner

The results showed that the greatest activity of lumbar paraspinal muscles (an indicator of more efficient strengthening and stability) occurred in the swimming or cross-crawl pattern.  This study confirms that, at least for strengthening and stabilizing the low back, a cross-crawl pattern is superior to same-sided (ipsilateral) movements, or contracting both sides together.  Why?

Cross-Crawl Pattern

It’s because the cross-crawl pattern actually simulates the way we move.  Muscles of the low back and pelvis fire in an alternating pattern, going from glut to opposite side paraspinals to same side paraspinals, in that order.  When we become lax or de-conditioned in this region–watch out!–chronic low back pain.  In fact, studies show that weak paraspinal muscles are a good indicator of future low back pain.

This study’s upside is that we have a good indication of which movements of the lumbar spine are most functional–again, the cross-crawl.  The downside is, we don’t know if Pilates mat exercises are more effective than using the Roman chair or machines.  My feeling is they are–Pilates mat exercises most closely resemble our natural movements; this leads me to believe that the exercises done in the natural lumbar range of motion will have the greatest contractile strength, and thus the greatest increase in the endurance of the muscles.  Although the Roman chair and machines undoubtedly strengthen low back muscles, the very nature of their low-functionality (we don’t really do those movements naturally) probably makes them poor endurance building exercises comparatively.

Have you ever fallen?  Think it can’t happen to you?  Falls are not as uncommon as you might think, and for the elderly they can be deadly.  But new research shows that balance and movement exercises combined with music do more to prevent falls.  This post is not just for seniors. One out of every three adults age 65 and older falls each year; and of these, tens of thousands die from injuries sustained from falls.  Almost two million seniors visit emergency rooms every year as a result of falling.
Because of these staggering numbers, experts in fall prevention are continuously looking for ways to help the elderly (and others) stabilize themselves. There are effective ways of training people of all ages to maintain balance, including proprioceptive exercises like rocker and wobble boards, yoga, and other movements.  But now a recent study shows that adding music to these workouts can increase these already powerful practices.
Swiss researchers looked at 134 Swiss adults, mostly women, average age 75.5 years, who were at increased risk of falling. They were assigned to either an intervention group that did a music-based multitask exercise program or a control group that did normal exercises. The intervention program used an instructor-led one-hour weekly exercise class that featured multitask activities, including movements that were designed to challenge balance and become increasingly difficult over time. These exercises included walking in time to piano music and responding to changes in the music’s rhythm. People in the intervention program showed a greater improvement in balance and had 24 falls (a rate of 0.7 falls per person per year), compared with 54 falls in the control program (a rate of 1.6 falls per person per year).  It increased participants’ walking speed and stride length while performing one task at a time, and increased stride length and decreased stride length variability while performing multiple tasks at the same time.  This improvement in gait (manner or style of walking) and balance helped reduce the risk of falls.

Not bad, not bad.  I do balance or proprioceptive training with many of the clients at my Los Angeles sports chiropractic office.  Not only do these exercises prevent falls, but they improve athletic performance, add grace to the gait, and believe it or not, help reduce low back pain (check out the article here to find out how). So whether you are a chiropractor, physical therapist, or other movement therapist, try adding music to your training program.  If you are just into working out and keeping fit, then do so to the rhythm of your favorite music.  Moving rhythmically to the beat will improve your balance by syncing your proprioceptors, muscles and brain.  Trust me when I say this is the greatest thing you can do for yourself physically.  Balance, in all areas is the name of the game.



Buttock pain has many sources, none more irritating than piriformis syndrome.  Piriformis syndrome is a condition of a tight, inflamed piriformis muscle that clamps down on the sciatic nerve.  Piriformis syndrome, then, can lead to sciatica, a sharp, burning electrical pain down the leg and sometimes into the foot.

Piriformis syndrome needs to be diagnosed by a doctor–preferably a sports chiropractor, since you can get diagnosed and treated in the same office.  There are, however, some things that can be done at home to alleviate the symptoms.

Watch the video below to get some tips on how to take care of your own hip or buttock pain caused by piriformis syndrome.  Or you can also read the article here to learn more about piriformis syndrome


Low back pain can be caused by tight hip flexors.  The hip flexor muscle group is made up of the psoas, iliacus and rectus femoris (part of the quadriceps) muscles.  When tight, they pull the low back into a hyperlordosis, or an over-arch.  This causes pressure on the lumbar disks, leading to pain and stiffness of the low back.

The hip flexors can be loosened with a simple runners stretch.  You can do this at home finding complete low back pain relief, or it might be a good temporary fix before you get in to see your sports chiropractor.

Watch the video below to see the proper way of stretching the iliopsoas, or hip flexor complex.  If you need a good Los Angeles, Beverly Hills or West Hollywood sports chiropractor, check here.


Low back pain, hip pain and sciatica can result from a tight piriformis muscle.  The piriformis runs from the sacrum (tailbone) to the femur (thigh bone), and is an external rotator of the hip.  Its function is essentially to prevent the inward collapse of the leg during walking.  It can become tight from lack of stretching (most common), overuse (especially with an overpronation foot dysfunction) and pregnancy.

Because the muscle crosses the sacroiliac joint and sits atop the sciatic nerve, a tight piriformis can cause low back pain, hip or sacroiliac pain, and sciatica.  If you’ve never had sciatica, consider yourself lucky, because it is characterized by a sharp, electrical, burning pain that shoots down a leg, sometimes to the foot, causing numbness or tingling.  Sciatica is not a pleasant situation and can be quite unnerving for the sufferer.

For sciatica caused by a tight piriformis muscle (as opposed to one caused by a herniated disk), you can try a simple stretch at home to get relief from the numbness, tingling and hip and low back pain that you might be suffering.  Watch the video to learn the best low back pain exercises and stretches available.  And while you are on the floor, pick up your phone and call your local sports chiropractor today.  If you work or reside in Los Angeles, Beverly Hills or West Hollywood, chiropractic can be found a phone call away at 323-651-2464.



Low back pain can have many sources–organic disease, herniated disks, and over-worked muscles can all cause pain in the lower back.  One factor that many people are unaware of are short, tight muscles.  The hamstrings are one such muscle group that can cause low back pain.

The hamstrings attach to the bottom portion of the pelvis, the ischial tubes, or “sit bones” as they are called in yoga.  When the hamstrings get tight, they pull downward on the sit bones, which in turn causes the pelvis to rotate backward.  As a righting compensation, the lumbar spine (low back arch) will decrease its natural arch and flex somewhat forward causing a straightening of the lumbar curve.  This straightening increases the compressive forces of the intervertebral disks, causing stress, pain and risk for disk herniation.

One simple answer is to stretch your hamstrings–but NOT like your PE teacher taught you in the sixth grade.  Reaching down to touch your toes merely increases the pressure on the lumbar spine–this can cause a herniated disk in susceptible people.  If you’ve ever heard somebody say that they’ve “thrown out” his or her back by bending over to pick something up, tight hamstrings was very likely a part of the equation.

This does not have to be you.  The solution is stretching your hamstrings regularly.  When it comes to stretching the hamstrings, there is a right way and a wrong way.  Watch the video above to learn the proper way to stretch your hamstrings.  If you are suffering from low back pain and need a chiropractor in Los Angeles, West Hollywood or Beverly Hills, please visit my sports chiropractic office to get low back pain relief.


Low back pain can be caused by a number of things, but one of the most common disorders I see in my West Hollywood sports chiropractic office happens to be a gait dysfunction. Our gait–or the way we walk–is dependent on a number of factors, one of which is the structural make-up (or breakdown) of our feet.

One such dysfunction is called overpronation, which is an excessive turning out of the feet from the heel during the gait cycle. Overpronation is usually the result of flat feet or collapsing arches. This excessive turning out causes a dysfunctional chain of events up the legs and to the low back. Some common symptoms, along with low back pain, are shin splints, sciatica, tight hips, and poor posture, among other things.

The answer to low back pain caused by overpronation is to have custom orthotics made for your feet. We cast orthotics in my West Hollywood chiropractic office, and within two weeks you’ll a comfortable and effective pair of shoe insert arch supports that are made specifically for your natural arch.

Please watch the video above to see overpronation in action, and a sample of custom-made orthotics. If you are having low back pain and you suspect that your feet may be part of the problem, please contact your local chiropractor today. If you are in West Hollywood, Beverly Hills or Los Angeles you can contact this chiropractor and we’ll evaluate your feet so you can kick low back pain to the curb.


Well no doubt that all this talk about health care reform has brought some long overdue can-o-worm opening. Take, for instance, unnecessary surgeries: a medical nuisance of the worst magnitude, and common practice for decades. A recent report discloses that riskier surgeries for low back pain have risen in number and in cost, yet many are unwarranted. Well n-o-o-o chit! You know what they say, “When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”

Data on more than 32,000 Medicare patients with low back pain stemming from spinal stenosis (a narrowing of the spinal canal causing a squeezing low back pressure) showed that costlier, more complex spinal fusion surgeries were recommended and performed over a six year period. Less expensive decompression surgeries, costing roughly $20K, were often bypassed for $60-90K spinal fusions, despite the more expensive surgeries having greater complications and even leading to death.

Worse yet, many a spinal fusion was lacking in evidence for appropriateness of care. You don’t say? Our doctors doing the unnecessary? Nah, not McReamy. You bet your assets they are. And I love it, because we chiropractors have known about it for years, and we haven’t been quiet about it, either. We have tried to sway the public toward more natural and highly effective treatment options, but noooo, stay away from them chiropractors, they can hurt you.

Yeah? Listen to these number:

  • Risk of stroke in a $20Kspinal decompression (part of vertebrae hacked out to take pressure off nerve): 1 in 50
  • Risk of stroke in a $80K complex spinal fusion (vertebrae connected and joint removed): 1 in 20
  • Risk of stroke in a $3K round of chiropractic care: 1 in 5.85 million

Frickin’ duh!

According to the study, more than half the patients who had complex fusions had a simple stenosis, which usually calls for decompression alone. Rates of complex fusions in Medicare patients rose 15-fold from 2002-2007, while decompressions declined, and hospital charges grew 40 percent. There have been allegations of kickbacks to spine surgeons for using products of a particular hardware manufacturer. Hey Izzy, them screws you got in ya back sent me and the missus to Reno

Listen, I don’t really think there’s some big conspiracy here: It ain’t rocket science. The medicos are admittedly deficient in their training in treating musculoskeletal issues. Surgery is also notoriously ineffective at relieving low back pain for any significant stretch of time. So why are drugs (equally ineffective) and surgery still the treatments of choice by the cultural health authority? Simple. When all you have is a hammer…

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