How to Manage Your Musculoskeletal Health

80% of all adults in the U.S. experience, or report, lower back pain.

Compare that to 12% of the population who has sought the services of a chiropractor, or a doctor specializing in musculoskeletal health. That’s quite a disconnect.

Your body is your armor, your vessel, your best weapon, your biggest asset, and your ticket to step into the world. If it’s functioning at a lower setting than it was designed to, if it’s stiff and in pain, if its joints are tight and its muscles sore…

The life you’re living is limited.

Visiting a chiropractor isn’t an option for everyone. Not everyone has healthcare, let alone healthcare that includes a trip to the chiropractor’s office. On average, you can expect a session to cost between $30 and $200. Accessible for some, but not for all.

But that’s okay, because the art of chiropracting is ancient and understandable to the layman. 

In fact, Hippocrates, the father of medicine, famously said, “Look well to the spine for the causes of disease,” enlightening the public on the absolute necessity of caring for the muscles connected to the back.

Chiropractic is the study of physiology, which is the way in which a living organism or bodily part functions. It focuses on returning the spine to its correct alignment in function, which then serves to support the rest of the body. Its study is out of alignment with most Western medicine in that it relies heavily on the idea that the body already has all of the tools it needs to heal itself, and doesn’t require external correctional sources.

With that in mind, it’s helpful to know how to help yourself should you find yourself afflicted by back pain, aches, fatigue, poor sleep quality, neck pain, or lingering pain from an injury.

Let’s look at three powerful chiropractic techniques that can help you from home.

Hip Flexor Stretch

Your hip flexor muscle group is responsible for much of the mobility of your lower body. If your hip flexors are strained or tight, you’ll find that not only will you experience difficulty in performing tasks with your lower body, you may find yourself aching and uncomfortable.

To perform this stretch, here’s what you’ll do:

  1. Kneel on your right knee with your left foot planted in front of you and good posture in your torso. Let your hands sit on your hips.
  2. Push your hips forward slowly with your top half upright. You’ll feel the tension in your right hip. 
  3. Remain there for thirty seconds.
  4. Perform the reverse stretch with your left hip and repeat two to three times.

Piriformis Stretch

This stretch targets the muscle that runs from the wedge-shaped vertebrae at the end of your spine, the sacrum, to the thigh bone. The piriformis commonly becomes inflamed or tightened due to prolonged sitting, so office workers will experience this kind of pain often. Keeping your piriformis healthy and functional can also ease knee and ankle pain.

Try this stretch:

  1. Roll a towel in a tight cylindrical shape. 
  2. Sit firmly on the two bones at the lowest part of your backside and then place the rolled towel behind them, underneath your glute muscles. Lay your legs out in front of you.
  3. Tighten your core and release your shoulders and neck. 
  4. Arch your back by pushing your chest forward and your rear back.
  5. Take your right leg and bring your right ankle to your left knee. Hold it there with both hands and maintain that position for 30 seconds.
  6. Reverse and repeat two to three times.

Pelvic Lift

Managing your pelvic health can help ease lower back pain, repair posture, and even improve bladder control. Working to better your pelvic strength also helps with ab strength and glute strength, so that you’re actually tackling a few pivotal body groups in stretching your pelvis.

Here’s what you’d do:

  1. Lie down on the floor with your back flat. Bend your knees and keep your feet flat and hip-width apart, arms laid out by your sides with palms facing the floor.
  2. Raise your pelvis by pushing your hips into the air as high as you can while contracting your glutes. 
  3. Count to five and allow your hips to return to the floor slowly.
  4. Repeat up to ten times.

These are only a few examples of unobtrusive stretches that can help you relieve some of your pain on your own, or prevent pain from developing.

Remember, for serious injuries or issues, always consult a doctor when you can.

But if you treat your body with care and practice these stretches with gentility, mindfulness, and regularity, your body should feel better, stronger, and have more range of motion.

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Dr. Pedram Shojai

NY Times Best Selling author and film maker. Taoist Abbot and Qigong master. Husband and dad. I’m here to help you find your way and be healthy and happy. I don’t want to be your guru…just someone who’ll help point the way. If you’re looking for a real person who’s done the work, I’m your guy. I can light the path and walk along it with you but can’t walk for you.