Please Note: Dr. Cohen’s book Feel It? Heal It! contains an empowering special section devoted to back pain sufferers. Specific stretches and mobilization exercises are highlighted with unique insight into the root causes of common back pain. Specific healing techniques are also illustrated. The following is an excerpt:
Understand that no treatment can reverse the effects of continuously poor posture, weak muscles and chronically stiff joints from disuse. Treat your back with the respect it deserves by properly aligning, moving, stretching and toning your body.
Each element of this section – Acuballing, posture, toning, mobilizing and stretching – is important because your back’s integrity depends on a combination of all five.
When pain occurs there’s always a reason why. Check with a health professional you trust to find out exactly what that reason is. Remember knowledge is power!
True Healing Takes Time
Be patient with your healing and respect the fact that true healing takes time. If you’ve been in pain for a while…let’s say four years, it will probably take you 25% of that time, or one full year, of working on all aspects of your problem – Acuballing tight contracted areas to open them, correcting your posture, toning your muscles, loosening tight joints, stress reduction, adequate rest and proper nutrition – to generate significant lasting healing change. The reality is that you are engaged in the process of retraining muscles, nerves, connective tissue and joints to adapt to new positions from the ones they’ve been in for many years. Understandably, this takes time.
GEM: Nothing of real value comes for free. Healing requires time, perseverance and accurately placed effort.
Emotional Stress Increases Pain
A word about emotional stress: it’s a definite contributor to all pain syndromes, so take the time to deal with whomever and/or whatever is bothering you, so you can be as ‘clear’ and ‘free’ as possible. Many excellent books and other resources exist on this topic, and I strongly encourage you to seek them out and learn about the best ways to deal with your issues.
You can’t separate out how your body feels from your mind’s state. If you are under stress realize that it has to be affecting your body. I’ve had many patients over the years whose pain syndromes disappeared after the issue in their life that was upsetting them was dealt with. Talking, writing about and discussing your problems is absolutely essential for good health. The worst thing you can do is to keep them ‘bottled up’ inside.
You haven’t dealt with issues by suppressing them. In reality, the unresolved negative energy of your issue will simply come out somewhere else in your body, leading to other health problems down the road. Talk over any issues you have with friends, family and people you trust. Consider seeing a qualified health practitioner to help you put things in perspective and learn strategies to alleviate and/or deal with your stress. There’s no shame in saying you’ve got a problem. It’s actually a sign of strength.
Pain May Originate in a Different Area Than Where You Feel It
It is important to realize that pain you feel in one part of your body may be caused by a problem in a completely different area. For example, since nerves run from your low back down into your legs and feet, a problem in your low back may be felt all the way down in your big toe.
Irritated muscles and joints can also be responsible for sending pain signals into other regions of the body. For instance, tight muscles in your low back may refer pain down into your buttock. Understandably, if you start Acuballing your buttock, it won’t help because you aren’t treating the actual cause of the problem – you are treating the symptom. Once you begin to loosen your low back muscles, where the real underlying source of the pain is, the buttock pain will gradually ease off.
Your health practitioner can help you to identify if what you are feeling is the result of ‘referred’ pain (pain that originates in another area) or local pain (pain that comes from exactly where you feel it). Once you know where the real origin of your discomfort is, you can accurately focus your healing efforts on the ‘root’ of your problem.
Also, feel free to work on different areas while letting the wisdom of your body ‘guide’ you. It is a continual source of amazement for me to see how adept the body’s wisdom is at guiding us to the areas we really need to work on. Your job is to be open to hearing that message, then acting on it. If you have a ‘feeling’ that you should work on a specific area in a specific way, by all means do it.
Brian’s Story – A Real Life Healing Experience
Brian was a 52-year-old accountant who had been complaining of achy right-sided low back pain for the past year. He felt it every morning when he got out of bed and couldn’t get rid of it with stretching and massage. His daily brisk walking exercises made it worse, so he stopped. He wasn’t sure how his pain started and had no history of any falls or injuries that would explain it. Upon questioning, Brian remembered that previous to his back problem starting, he had suffered from right foot pain for about 6 months. The foot pain started after a new pair of slip-on shoes began bothering his foot. He kept wearing the slip-ons thinking he would eventually get used to them, and feeling bad because he had “paid good money for them.”
After about two months his foot pain became so intense that he could no longer walk properly, needing to limp to avoid putting any downward pressure on his right foot. He finally stopped wearing his shoes but found he had “damaged” his foot to the point that it took him an additional three months before his foot completely stopped hurting.
Brian was instructed to use his Acuball and Acuball-mini to search for tight spots in his feet, legs and hips as well as where he felt pain in his right low back area. He eventually located three extremely tender areas: under his right foot, in the front and side of his right thigh and on the side of his right hip.
He began to Acuball these spots for 30 minutes twice per day. They were quite tender initially, but Brian simply felt this meant they needed work and persevered. It took him a few days to learn how to ‘breathe into’ areas of discomfort, but he soon became proficient at tuning his mind and breath into his tight spots. After one week Brian felt his low back start to improve for the first time in over a year, noting that although he still had pain it was less severe and didn’t last as long.
He found that Acuballing the specific area where he felt pain in his right lower back gave him only temporary relief. Brian noticed that Acuballing the tender areas under his right foot, in the front of his right thigh and on the side of his right hip immediately reduced the intensity of his low back pain.
Brian realized that his earlier foot pain had caused him to walk in a way that had tightened up his foot, leg and hip muscles. Brian continued to Acuball under his right foot, the front of his right thigh and in his right hip over the next two months feeling continually better with each session until he awoke one morning without back pain. As he improved he incorporated daily stretches to further loosen his legs and hips, and began to exercise again. The pain returned mildly a few months later, but responded well to Acuballing the known tight spots and resolved shortly thereafter.
“I had started to think I was really falling apart because my doctor told me that my low back pain was from overuse and aging, which never sat well with me. Once I got my first taste of low back pain relief…after Acuballing my foot, leg and hip…it suddenly all made sense. I had been walking around limping for so long when my foot hurt, that I had thrown myself completely out of whack.”
“I hadn’t connected it up before because my low back didn’t bother me until months after my foot pain stopped. It also made sense to me that my leg and hip muscles being off would cause my low back to hurt. This whole experience has taught me a tremendous amount about my body and how it works.”
The 3 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Acuballing:
1) Are you in a comfortable place?
A firm bed or carpeted floor are excellent surfaces. Most people in pain start on a bed and, as they get better, ‘graduate’ to a carpeted floor or mat. Some people lay towels, yoga/exercise mats or pillows on the floor and Acuball on top of them. Others put their Acuball behind them while they work at their desk (bringing their awareness back to their body posture) or use it up against a wall. Feel free to experiment until you find the feeling that’s right for you.
2) Are you in ‘The Healing Zone’, breathing deeply and audibly to create a relaxed frame of mind & body to optimize healing?
The ‘Healing Zone’ is a place where your nervous system is calm and able to divert its energies from external issues, like money and work, back inside your body towards healing. Get away from noise and clutter and turn off that cell phone!
3) Is your mind focused on the area you are healing?
Time you invest in yourself is the best investment you can make, it’s always worth it, so take this time seriously and hold an intention in your mind to heal the area you’re working on. Turn off the phone, television and computer and ‘tune into yourself.’ The world will still be there when you come back. Learning the anatomy of the area you are working on further focuses your healing power. Make sure to look at pictures or diagrams of your problem area to enable yourself to better ‘connect’ with it.
Acuballing and Your Lower Back
Click here to watch a short video. We’ll start Acuballing in an area almost everyone needs a little work on: lower back pain affects eight out of ten people in their lives, it’s extremely common. Usually, tight low back muscles which lock up spinal joints play a key roll in developing low back pain, and that’s where the Acuball comes in: it releases these muscles and mobilizes the vertebrae, allowing freer spinal movement.
How to Use Your Acuball Properly
Click here to watch a short video. Lay on your back on a firm bed or, if your lower back isn’t too bad, a carpeted floor or padded mat. Some people prefer a chair. Feel free to experiment and listen to your body’s answer as to what feels and works best.
If you are lying down, bring your knees up so they are bent. Both feet should be resting on the floor about 10 inches (25 cm) from your behind. Bending your knees like this pushes your lower back into the floor so the Acuball can work more effectively. Take a few nice, deep breaths completely letting go on the exhale to get yourself into the ‘Healing Zone’, that calmed nervous system state that allows you to access your innate healing power.
- Place the Acuball on your sore muscle area, completely letting your body sink into the ball. Let the weight of your body do the work. Remember: the first 15-30 seconds may be tender if the area is really tight. It’s completely normal to feel this discomfort. In fact, it’s part of the healing process.
- Close your eyes and focus on taking nice slow, deep releasing breaths into the area you are working on. Keep your focus on your breath, inhaling deeply and completely releasing on your exhale letting your body totally relax.
- If you are using the Spine Align Belt to help release and mobilize your vertebrae, use both hands to place it precisely under your spine. Be patient and try to find just the right spot. It takes a little while to get the hang of this. Focus your mind on releasing the area by trying to ‘breathe into’ it using the combination of your breath and mind to enhance healing (this technique is fully explained in Feel It? Heal It! page 49). Breathe into your spine, visualizing the vertebrae and muscles you are working on faintly expanding and contracting with each breath you take.
- Tune into the sensations you feel as you Acuball. Hold an intention in your mind to heal the area you are working on.
- Some people have found that visualizing specific colours flowing into the area (white, yellow, blue or purple seem to work well), a flower opening or even a tightly coiled spring unwinding, helps to release their tight spots even further.
- After a few minutes you’ll get the sensation that your work is done on that specific point. Keeping the Acuball underneath you, move it with your hand or roll your body in any direction up, down or sideways until you feel you’ve found the next spot. In many cases it will be very close to the original area you worked.
‘Feelings’ you get convey your body’s wisdom, which is the best healing information there is. Use these ‘feelings’ to steer you to the best positions and techniques to Acuball.
- Keep moving from spot to spot for 15-30 minutes or more.Over a few weeks of consistent Acuballing you will notice that it becomes more difficult to locate tender spots because you have actually started to work the tightness and contraction out.
Peeling off Layers of an Onion
If it’s too painful don’t force it. Do as much as you can and come back tomorrow to take a little more of the tightness away. Think of it like peeling off layers of an onion. Healing happens bit by bit, over time: you can’t rush it.
Lower Back Pain can be Caused by Feet, Knee, Leg & Hip Problems
Your feet are the foundation of your body. If the foundation isn’t right the rest of the structure CANNOT be right. Make sure to check how your feet, knees, legs and hips are doing when working on your lower back. You may find the root cause for low back pain lower down in the body.
A common problem is old ankle sprain injuries that have never been properly healed and re-aligned. This tightens muscles running up the outside of the leg into the low back, eventually causing joints in the back to move out of proper alignment. So remember to check for sore spots in your feet, the backs of your knees, the front and sides of your legs and your hips. Most people are quite surprised by what they find!
If you do locate tight spots in these areas, it means they need treatment also. Work them out in tandem with the low back areas you find. You’ll get much better results this way because you’re treating the cause of the problem and not just the symptoms.