As many of you already know I’ve suffered from a re-occurring back problem for the last 9 years or so. I’ve been told that it’s ‘non-specific back pain’ and no-one can tell me why I get it – not very helpful. During this time I’ve tried lots of things to stop the back pain from prickle balls and fit balls to physiotherapy and massage. I still suffer and am still searching for the cause so I can eliminate it – I refuse to give up. Following on from some research I’m wondering if my back problem might stem from flat feet and tight hamstring muscles and maybe I need to revamp my Pilates routine…
As Yogi Marlon says in ‘Yoga – for a healthy back’ try to get your toes level with your nose – I’m lucky to get my toes level with my hips some days and would dearly love to be able to get my toes level with my nose!
I swapped from Yoga to Pilates two years ago now believing that strengthening my core muscles would solve the problem – it’s certainly improved but not stopped my problems. During my Pilates practice and with the help of an inspirational teacher I’ve started to realise that everything is connected. Maybe my flat feet cause my tight hamstrings and my tight hamstrings cause my back problems. Certainly when I bend forward I feel a tightness in my lower back and if I continue to bend forward it will pull a muscle which takes me weeks to get back to where I started. Consequently, I don’t bend forward much which is not good considering how active I like to be.
I have been performing foot exercises for about 6 months now and wear Sole insoles in my running and walking shoes. This combination stopped a mild case of plantar fasciitis in it’s tracks so it must be doing something good. So that’s the flat feet sorted and now I’m concentrating on the tight hamstrings. I’m getting frustrated because can’t seem to get my legs past a 90 degree angle in the classic hamstring stretch (lying on the floor, wrapping an exercise band around your foot and straightening your leg) despite 2 years of pilates exercises.
So I’ve done some research which suggests I should stretch the different parts of my body in a specific order. Starting with stretching the back, moving onto the legs, then the stomach and upper body. So I’ve jiggled my morning pilates session around to stretch in that order. I also read that other muscles can stop the target muscle from stretching if they are also tight. When I do my hamstring stretches I always feel a pulling behind my knee before I can get to stretch the hamstring muscle itself. So I’ve adding in a calf stretch in before I move onto the hamstrings.
According to the research I should reach full flexibility within one month of daily stretching. I’ve been doing the new stretching for about a week now and initial signs are good – although I still can’t stretch past 90 degrees there is less pulling behind the knee. So watch this space and I’ll let you know if I achieve my goal of getting my toes level with my nose in the classic ‘Hamstring stretch’.