Muscles of the TMJ – Jaw Pain & Headaches

The TMJ or temporomandibular joint is the formal anatomical name given to the jaw joint, where the mandible bone (which forms the lower jaw) meets the skull (at the temporal bone).  There are a number of muscles which attach to and surround this joint and which are involved in mastication (i.e. chewing) as well as other facial movements involving the jaw.  Excessive chronic tension in the muscles connected with and surrounding the TMJ can cause not only local pain perception in the area of the jaw itself, but can also set-up pain referral patterns (through trigger points) causing regular experiences of headaches, migraines, involuntary teeth grinding (bruxism), gum or tooth related pain and even tiniuts (ringing in the ears).  Muscular tension or shortening in the muscle fibres resulting in restricted range of movement of the jaw joint can also cause pain and even a limited opening movement of the mouth itself (e.g. trismus).  Differences in the tensioning of the muscles on opposite sides of the face / jaw can cause uneven bite or malocclusion scenarios.

Physical trauma such as those caused by whiplash or other sudden violent impact to the skull or neck area can set-up chronic “holding” tension which then becomes “locked” into the muscles of the skull, jaw or neck as the body freezes itself up in that split second reaction of self defensive protection.  This tensioned holding scenario in muscles and related soft tissues (in any area of the body) is seen so commonly after many traumatic or sudden impact related situations (including high exertion force tooth extractions as well as many other invasive dental procedures).  What is not always commonly understood is that an effective and permanent unlocking of this tension will still not be permitted by the body itself long (week, months or years) after the perceived danger event has passed until it is satisfactorily notified that the threat has passed, and so in clinical massage therapy it is the goal to gradually introduce this notification of safety to the body to begin the process of gently unlocking itself; the muscles and soft tissues affected will be engaged in this process through safe, gentle, specific and highly focused manipulation and release work.

Apart from the physical conditions described above, unrelenting stress and emotional upset experienced by a person is another way in which muscles of the TMJ can become dysfunctional or become locked into a chronic pain pattern.  In fact, the emotional element is perhaps the most common underlying cause of TMJ dysfunction and pain, simply because there is an actual physical neurological connection between the sensory (as well as the motor) nerves within the TMJ itself which in turn interfaces with the brain and spinal chord via a branch of the Trigeminal nerve.  The feedback loop within this neurological pathway means that emotional stress can cause the muscles of the TMJ to clench or tighten up (quite a lot of people will unconsciously clench or even grind their teeth as a response to coping with or being faced with stress); likewise tightening up or clenching of the muscles in this area causes an increased perceptual registering of emotional stress to be generated in (the primitive reptilian part of) the brain and nervous system. So, as you can see that one feeds back into the other causing a potentially vicious cycle, until something comes along which can interrupt this cycle! Physical exercises which help to stretch and relax the soft tissues of the TMJ are a vital consideration as well as whole body and mind relaxation practices or activities in order to lower emotional stress and decrease sympathetic nervous system tone (and therefore increase the parasympathetic nervous system response).

As well as the perception of stress levels in our daily lives, history of invasive dental work and the related impact of other physical or emotional trauma, the type of food which makes up our diet can also have an effect.  The more prolonged and harder we have to chew our food, the higher the chances of the TMJ muscles becoming chronically tense.  Of course, as with any other set of muscles in the body, there are many effective preventative self care exercises and things that one can do in order to look after our TMJs and ease pain, preferable before it becomes chronic.

This video shows examples of just some of the self care exercises you can do in order to reduce tension in the muscles of the TMJ:

Chronic TMJ dysfunction and pain can respond very favourably to specific and effective physical therapy approaches such as clinical massage which mixes and combines elements from trigger point therapy, neuromusclar massage, myofascial release, stretching, acupressure massage, craniosacral therapy, as well as sometimes work with hydrotherapy to bring in soothing sources of moist heat and cold as appropriate all into the same session to suit the needs of the individual client.  Here is a very informative  article from a massage therapy trade journal written by a dental nurse who subsequently devised a unique clinical massage protocol for alleviating TMJ (as well as other jaw, teeth and headache) related pain conditions after training in clinical massage techniques herself and pooling this together with her dental nurse training:

TMJ & Clinical Massage Article (Today’s Therapist Magazine Dec/Jan 2009) – PDF File

Here is a very highly recommended website with lots of visual charts depicting the pain referral patterns that can be experienced and get set-up due to trigger point activity in muscles of the head and neck – have a look to see if the charts below match up with any pain patterns you might be experiencing:

www.triggerpoints.net/head-and-neck-pain.htm

A list of some the important muscles involved in jaw pain and movement restriction issues:

Masetter
Lateral Pterygoid
Medial Pterygoid
Temporalis
Digastric (plus others in the “suprahyoid” group)

These muscles are commonly indicated for frequently reoccurring headaches with pain radiating patterns which can be mapped out predictably by the person experiencing them:

Suboccipitals
Upper Trapezius
Sternocleidomastoid

Another informative site with TMJ related information and along with a helpful beginner’s musculoskeletal tutorial summarizing which muscles are involved in performing what physical movements of the jaw have a look at http://abbottcenter.com/bostonpaintherapy/2009/10/01/jaw-pain-and-tmj-final-details/

If you are interested in wading even more into some technical depth, this particular article is somewhat heavy on technical anatomical description and details, but well worth reading if you have the relevant background and want to investigate how and why clinical massage (and myofascial release work in particular) can help address TMJ related chronic pain issues:

TMJ & MFR Article (Today’s Therapist Magazine – Jul/Aug 2008) – PDF File

This entire article was prompted by some recent sessions I’d performed with a client to help them out with TMJ related pain including subconscious teeth grinding at night, regular headaches around the perimeter of the ears and down the side of the neck, malaligned bite and a very limited ability to open the mouth – so limited that opening the mouth to take a bit from a sandwich was virtually impossible such was the pain as well as just the physical restriction in range of movement of the jaw before we got to work.  Conventional MRI scans had not been able to shed any light on what was going for this client, yet we managed to produce a significant shift in jaw movement with decrease in pain from session 1 as well as reduction in teeth grinding at night, all to a degree which had not been experienced with conventional other treatments elsewhere.  Improvements continued in session 2 and session 3 will be next week (at the time of writing this article). Will aim to update with progress on this blog as we progress.  The protocols and techniques I use aim to produce effective and permanent shifts on a 4 to 6 session basis when performed on a weekly session basis – provided that the client also diligently follows the additional selfcare advice at home as well as attending the weekly regular sessions.

It has been reported by one particular source that 90% of musculoskeletal issues have an element of TMJ involvement to it, yet TMJ dysfunction isn’t necessarily the root cause (no pun intended).   “As a above, so below” provides us with a useful perspective from which we could spring board off of in order to begin looking at the picture of the body in an alternative and more holistic relationship, so according the Lovett Brothers Principle each vertebrae bone in the spine has is intimately related to a matching counterpart at the opposite end, thus the bones of the jaw, skull and neck have counterparts which they are affected by (and visa-versa) in the lumbar (lower back) and sacral areas of the pelvis.

TMD or TMJD (temporomandibular joint dysfunction) as it is sometimes referred to as is certainly a very big topic, I hope I’ve managed to cover as many of the salient issues  as possible here, but there is still so much more that I could say that hasn’t been raised in this particular article, so I would very much welcome your feedback, comments, questions and suggestions for amendments, additions and further articles on this topic.

Henry Tang (Clinical Massage Therapist) – Spaces of Possibilities Wellness Centre (Crows Nest, Sydney, Australia)

Visit the Space of Possibilities Web Page at: www.facebook.com/SOPcentre

Please leave comments below or email me at: SOPcentre@gmail.com

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8 October, 2010 at 03:03 2 comments

Healing With The Masters – This Program Blew Me Away…You Too?

A message and cordial invite from my friend Jennifer McLean for you to attend a teleseminar series that I’ve personally been attending for the past 2 years now and have learnt so much about health and healing from the numerous top experts who get gathered for each series season…

We are in changing times, can you feel it? Within these changing times are new opportunities to re-discover who you are and what you came here to do. I want to introduce you to a powerful FREE program that is guiding hundreds of thousands to do just that. Healing With The Masters Volume 6 is starting on September 7th, 2010 and it’s hosted by the remarkable healer and speaker in her own right, Jennifer McLean.

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One important theme in the new energy paradigm we are all playing in is community. According to renowned cell biologist, Brice Lipton (The Biology of Belief), community is a natural and important step for our human evolution.

“When you break up the individuals from a community into individual units, they become disempowered because it’s the collective consciousness and the collective energy of the group from which power comes. The principal driving force that lies before us, is that we have to recognize the nature of community as the evolutionary step that we just took a step backwards from in the last century” ~ Bruce Lipton quoted from his recent appearance on Healing With The Masters

I would like to invite you to join Healing With The Masters, a life-empowering teleseminar that has also turned into a unique community of like-minded individuals. This group is fully committed to their own growth and the growth and evolution of the planet and her inhabitants.

In fact, Healing With The Masters has become the “go to” place to join with other participants and experience the leading speakers and authors guiding each of us to find the life, flow, peace, and joy that were meant for us. 24 committed speakers are lined up just for you… to guide you, love you, and help you to re-align with your dreams.

And Jennifer brings a sense of fun and lightness to many of the big life issues covered in the series, that allows all of us to find the “light” in “enlightenment. So if you want to have fun AND shift into a new you then register at no cost at all here:

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Speakers include the best known and well regarded names in the human potential movement (many have even been regulars on Oprah) including:

· Gary Zukav – New York Times bestselling author of Seat of The Soul, Dancing Wu Li Masters and his powerful newest book Spiritual Partnership: The Journey to Authentic Power (amazing life changing info)

· Dan Millman – Pioneer in the spiritual movement with his popular bestselling book The Way of the Peaceful Warrior that lead to 13 books translated into 29 languages

· Reverend Michael Beckwith – founder of Agape Spiritual Community (one of the largest new thought communities), featured teacher in The Secret, author and minister.

· Caroline Myss – five-time New York Times bestselling author and internationally renowned speaker in the fields of human consciousness, spirituality and mysticism, health, energy medicine, and the science of medical intuition.

· Neale Donald Walsch – author of the Conversations With God series. Neale, a regular on Healing with the Masters, always offers remarkable insights to applying these principles to everyday things.

· Chunyi Lin – an international qigong master (pronounced “chee gong”) and the founder and creator of Spring Forest Qigong. This popular teacher is feature in a groundbreaking medical study on the effects of qigong on pain relief. This call alone could change your life.

· Carol Look – EFT master and specialist in pain relief and abundance, bestselling author and speaker you can also see Carol in the popular The Tapping Solution movie.

· Dee Wallace – Renowned actress best known for her role as the mother in the Spielberg movie ET, Dee is a profound healer and creator of the I~M System of Healing.

· Jo Dunning – You feel her before you hear her, called the “miracle worker” Jo brings healing energies that shift you in the moment just by listening.

This is just a sampling of the 24 speakers showing up just for you.

The series starts on September 7, 2010, so get ready for 24 evenings of insight and transformation. (But be sure to join now, so you can experience all the speakers.)

To take advantage of this invitation, to tap into the mentoring-in-the-moment of these healing masters, simply:

Step #1) Register for your NO COST life changing teleseminar seat here:

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Step #2) Keep an eye out for Jennifer’s email with the details for listening in on the calls (dial in and webcasting to your computer is available. If you can’t make a date, there is a 48-hour replay available for each show!).

Step #3) Make sure you go to the download site mentioned in your confirmation email after you register. Jennifer has a couple of amazing healing-focused bonus gifts for you (meditations and sound healing audios) that you can use immediately just for enrolling in this completely free series.

So, take action right now and join this amazing wave of change, okay? Oh, and you are welcome to send this email to your friends and share the fun. There are many Healing With The Master Study Groups that have formed around this series… something you could do too.

I’m sure you’re going to enjoy this unique, consciousness-expanding opportunity.

Henry Tang.
www.isca-therapies.co.uk

P.S. ~ Remember, there are a limited number of virtual seats available for this absolutely free series, and they’re likely to fill up fast. Take action right now and join us while the opportunity is in front of you now.

P.S.S. ~ As a group we can all move together much faster with these 24 Healing Masters than each of us finding the way on our own. So, click the link, register, and get ready to shift.

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1 September, 2010 at 22:41 Leave a comment

Healing Back Pain the Emotional Way

Guest blog article by Louise Woods – EFT, NLP & Holistic Practitioner…

Back pain is traditionally treated in a number of ways – all of them involving physical manipulation of some kind. Massage, Soft Tissue Therapy, Chiropractic, Osteopathy etc all involve a practitioner physically touching, massaging and applying pressure to your back. There can however, be a different way to address your back problems. It might surprise you that your emotions could be causing your physical pain. Just think about all the commonly used statements we often say, such as:

• He’s a pain in the neck
• I’ve got the weight of the world on my shoulders
• She put my back up
• Get off my back
• Get a backbone
• Bend over backwards

One way to address our negative emotions and stress is by using EFT or Emotional Freedom Techniques. EFT is like a psychological version of acupuncture. We tune in to how we feel and use our fingertips to “tap” on specific comfort points on our body. This releases the negative emotions and stress we have been carrying and calms us down. Once we release our negative emotions our physical body is often healed too.

EFT can be learnt easily and applied to many different issues. It can be used on your own or with the guidance of a practitioner. This is often very helpful when we don’t know what our underlying issue is. The practitioner can help you gain an insight and understanding to your issue that you can’t achieve on your own. This allows you to see the proverbial wood through the trees.

The following representations are ones that are commonly used. Your issue may be completely different to these ones but they may just speak to you! Our back is our support so it could be that you feel life is not supporting you right now or that someone is not there for you. Lower back problems are often associated with money worries. The middle back often represents guilt issues. The upper back can represent a lack of emotional support, feeling unloved or holding back love.

Our shoulders represent our ability to experience joy in life. Our attitude can make life a burden – i.e. we can get weighed down by our problems. Our neck is associated with flexibility so it could be that you are feeling inflexible about a certain situation or person. You might not be able to see all sides of an issue or are being stubborn.

To help you work out what emotion is underlying your pain the following questions are helpful:

• If there were an emotion in your back what would it be?
• If your shoulders could talk, what would they say?
• If your neck found a voice what would it say?

These questions can quickly bring up the emotion or stress we are holding in our body. Try it – you might be surprised by the answer! Our body often holds the answers. We just need to be quiet enough to listen to what it is trying to tell us. So give your body the gift of listening and see what response you get. It could be the pressure of your job weighing on your shoulders. It could be the lack of love that you are holding in your neck or your money worries that are irritating your lower back. Once you know what the underlying emotion or stress is you can use EFT to help you release it. With that your back pain could be a thing of the past. Of course there could be physical causes too e.g. an injury, bad posture, strained muscle etc. In this case it is always worth seeing an experienced practitioner who will work magic on your muscles!

To learn more about EFT and how to benefit from listening to your body, please visit my blog: www.devoneft.com.
Louise Woods
EFT & Holistic Practitioner
07866 013 637

6 August, 2010 at 02:38 2 comments

Resolving back pain through spinal manipulation

When most people think of spinal adjustments, they will most likely associate this with having the vertebrae bones in the spine being “clicked” or “cracked” into alignment by a chiropractor, osteopath or physiotherapist.  There are also different “grades” of adjustment or manipulation ranging on a scale from 1 thru 5, with 5 being the most radical in terms of movement range adjustment and thus requiring the most amount of applied manual force directed at the joint.  Generally, a grade 3, 4 or 5 adjustment will be carried out by a licensed chiropractor, osteopath or physiotherapist and involve moves that are known in the trade as High Velocity Low Amplitude (HVLA) adjustment techniques – also sometimes called High Velocity Thrust techniques depending on the profession you speak to.
What most people don’t realize is that a completely spontaneous physical adjustment of the spine (or any other bone to bone joint for that matter) can occur and often does during a remedial or clinical massage session, or indeed in any situation where the soft tissue interconnecting with the joint in question is being manipulated in a precision and focused manner.  Indeed, you wouldn’t necessarily go to your massage therapist asking them specifically to manipulate or adjust your spine for you in the same way that a chiropractor or osteopath might do for example as it’s usually beyond their scope of training and practice.   However, equally beneficial indirect and spontaneous bone joint adjustments can and do occur during clinical massage and soft tissue work such as fascia release, and as well as being a lot gentler than high velocity thrust adjustments, these spontaneous adjustments themselves occur because a number of other bio-mechanical conditions (as well as mental states) have aligned themselves within that person that has allowed that change to take place – that person and their being was “ready” to allow that particular change.  Sometimes but rarely direct manipulation is required as a last resort, but even among prominent and highly experienced osteopaths and chiropractors, there are those who have ditched this part of their training and instead have exclusively taken to the softly softly approach with consistent success and hardly ever go back to performing direct physical manipulation of bones.
If you have not yet read our articles on the Psoas and Quadratus Lumborum muscles, please feel free to click the aforementioned links to convince yourself that these 2 very major muscles which attach to the spine can have a significant effect on lower back pain symptoms as well as being able to bear significant load on the spine itself and thus causing potential alignment deviation.  Precision massage therapy offered by therapists trained in clinical massage can of course help release and balance tension in these deep muscles of the lower back.
The intrinsic muscles of the spine which we have not devoted specific articles to are the erector spinae and transversospinales muscle groups, below is a diagram showing the complexity of these 2 muscle groups and their relationship with regards to their attachment points on the spinal column plus the other msucles which we have already discussed previously:
Trigger point pain pattern charts and diagrams are included below to complete this discussion on the soft tissue approach to spinal adjustment and alignment:

19 July, 2010 at 22:35 4 comments

Important Muscles Involved in Lower Back Pain – Part 3 : Rectus Abdominus

The Rectus Abdominus muscle is the most superficial (i.e. closest to the surface of the body) of the layer of muscles making up the abdominal wall.  This muscle is also informally known as the “six-pack” or “abs” muscle as its appearance is known as such on a person with a well defined and toned set of Rectus Abdominus muscles.

So what has a muscle on the front side of the body got to do with back pain? Well, first off, this muscle provides stability and movement to the lower half of the front part of the body, but also it works in opposition yet at the same time complements the muscles at the back of the body, in particular the muscles which attach either side of and make movement of the spinal column possible such as the Erector Spinae and Transversospinales group of muscles.  A weak or over contracted Rectus Abdominus muscle causes us to slouch forward, thus putting extra strain and over activating the muscles of the lower back and gluteal region to compensate.

If we now also have a look at the trigger point pain referral diagram above, you should be able to discern that trigger points in the Rectus Abdominus muscle can causes referred pain to be felt in the lower back as well as in some cases the mid back region towards the bottom of the rib cage (see illustration A at the top of that diagram).

So as always, following on from the precedent set up in part 1 and part 2 of this series, we a video now for you giving a basic overview of the anatomy relating to this muscle just to give an appreciation of where it is located, its size and shape, and what it does in terms of body movement actions that it helps us to accomplish:

The Rectus Abdominus and underlying deeper muscles of the abdominal cavity form the front and sides of what can be considered a corset like structure of musculature, whilst the muscles of the lower back and lower spine region form the enclosing back side of this corset of muscles.  The muscles of the pelvic floor (i.e. deep internal pelvis area) are also part of the integrity of the bottom side of this corset like structure, whilst the top of this corset is formed of the (respiratory) diaphragm which is a sheet of muscle lining the bottom section of the rib cages and is a major muscle involved in breathing.  An imbalance in strength or weakness anywhere within this corset structure therefore can causes problems elsewhere as all parts are interdependent upon one another structurally.  It is therefore important to address all these areas in any exercise routine designed to holistically address lower back pain.  The video which follows below is a very useful 10 minute yoga routine designed to holistically exercise the muscles and structure of the core:

Regular execution of an exercise routine such as the one demonstrated above are useful not only in terms of balancing tension in the physical structure through stretching and toning, but it also promotes and trains our ability to become more and more aware of sensations going on within our bodies (that we were not aware of before), in turn and over time we then learn how to use these cues to provide finer degrees of movement control and discernment over what messages our bodies are trying to give to us.

Release of tension and the increase of awareness within our core, particularly the abdominal region can help with challenges that we may be experiencing with the internal organs located therein.  For example IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) or constipation to name just but 2 can be helped as physical compression and physical stress is taken off of the digestive organs from the surrounding muscles as their tension is released.  Abdominal related disturbances such as IBS and constipation very usually have an emotional cause at their core, so being able to provide even just a few moment of respite in order to stimulate a body-wide or body-region specific relaxation can help dissipate the emotional charge associated bit by bit over time.  We recommend receiving body therapy related work to effect a guided significant muscular release from a practitioner such as ISCA Therapies if you wish to fast track your recovery in addition to doing home exercise routines.

Join me for part 4 where we’ll start looking into muscular imbalances in the hip and pelvis region and how these can contribute to lower back pain. Muscular imbalances in the hip and pelvis body area is a meaty topic in itself so will be spread across a number of forthcoming articles.

If you have found these series of articles useful and interesting so far, please do let me know.  Also if you have any other comments or questions, please do let me have them, there is bound to be someone else out there with the same question but who hasn’t written in for whatever reason.  We will use your comments to formulate articles and Q&A summaries for future articles on this blog.  Take care and speak soon!

17 June, 2010 at 23:30 11 comments

Important Muscles Involved in Lower Back Pain – Part 2 : Psoas

The Psoas muscle is one of the most commonly involved yet under treated muscle in lower back pain conditions, save to say it is probably the number 1 missing link in a lot of cases where the muscle has never been directly addressed and appropriately rehabilitated in many cases of unresolved lower back pain.  Due to the relatively deep location of the main fibres of the psoas muscle, it is seldom treated directly unless the practitioner concerned has had training in the appropriate techniques.  The muscle itself covers a very large area of the lower back and pelvic areas, significantly it attaches to the front facing side of each of the lowest set of 5 vertebrae bones of the spine, continues on to lines in the inside of the pelvis (where it is sometimes becomes known as the “iliacus” muscle) and finally attaches to the top inner part of the femur (aka tigh bone).  Due to its attachment to the front of the lower spine, tension in the psoas muscle can pull the spine forward causing an excessive forward curvature in this region (known as an excessive “lordosis”) which in turn causes the opposing muscles attached to the back facing side of the spine to become over stretched and over tensioned (muscles including the quadratus lumborum and other spinal muscles which we discussed in part 1 of this article series).

As can be seen from the above diagram set depicting the trigger point pain referral patterns for the psoas, the first illustration shows the pain pattern for the back of the body which is essentially quite straightforward as it is just a localised pattern (relative to the absolutely position of the psoas muscle itself) running parallel along either side of the lower part of the spine.   The second illustration however might be a surprise as it shows pain referral which can get set-up and experienced on the front of side of the body which in this case is a region around the inner groin and inner thigh area, so anyone experiencing pain in these areas it’s possible to attribute this to trigger points in your psoas muscle.  Proper and thorough treatment of the trigger points in the psoas muscle requires that the practitioner goes in gradually and eases in deeply moving the intestines aside in order to make contact with the psoas (and iliacus), the direction of aim is toward the spine in order to work directly on the psoas (but not ultimately to make contact with the spine).  This procedure need not be excruciatingly painful for you the client so long as your practitioner maintains a “listening sense of touch” at all times, as well as working slowly and gradually in rather than forcing their way in with battling haste and impatience.

The following video gives a nice interactive over view of the anatomy for the psoas muscle and gives a few pointers on what issues may arise as a result of the psoas muscle being overly locked in tension or on the flip side in weakness (which is generally rare):

So, here is our first video showing you a classic de facto standard stretch for the psoas muscle, note that a varation of this stretch can also be done whilst lying totally flat on the floor i.e. the leg that would have been hanging off the edge of the bench in the video example would instead be stretched out straight flat against the floor instead:

Now, here are 2 alternatives…  The first variation is a stretch that can be performed standing (instead of lying down):

The second variation is a bit more complicated to grasp, but fine once you’ve understood what you’ve got to do!  This video was for me personally a very interesting stumble upon as it’s is based upon the paradigm of myofascial stretching.  I myself perform myofoscial release work for releasing individual muscles, but have never really looked into studying myofascial stretching before and has thus whetted my appetite, so any comments welcome about this from either total new comers or those experienced in myofascial stretching already.  I tried the exercise in the video below for the first time earlier on just before writing this article and it is certainly effective yet gentle and holistic (i.e. you can feel other parts of your body gradually and subtly freeing up as well during the stretch process) all at the same time:

Remember, if you have on-going lower back pain and have never had your psoas muscle properly treated for trigger points and properly (myofascially) released by a suitably qualified massage or physical therapist, chances are that this is exactly what the missing link is.

Take care for now and see you for the part 3!

15 June, 2010 at 00:21 9 comments

Important Muscles Involved in Lower Back Pain – Part 1 : Quadratus Lumborum

This Quadratus Lumborum muscle is perhaps one of the most relevant yet not always adequately treated muscle by healthcare practitioners who work directly hands-on with the body’s physical structures in relation to attempting to resolve lower back pain conditions.  I will bring to your attention other relevant and important muscles involved in lower back pain and movement restriction issues in this series of forthcoming blog articles.  These articles will feature informative videos that I have come across on YouTube giving an introductory overview of the relevant anatomy background followed by useful self help stretching exercises to facilitate release of tension in the muscle being reviewed.

In the above image, drawing C illustrates the anatomical positioning of the Quadratus Lumborum muscle, note that this muscle is actually semi deep and beneath another group of muscles called the Erector Spinae group which sit directly on top.  Drawings A and B illustrate the pain referral pattern that can get set-up when there are trigger points in this muscle, as is usual with the phenomenon of trigger points the actual apparent location of the pain or soreness experienced as defined by the shaded areas in the above diagram is referred i.e. it’s possible that no pain maybe directly felt in the muscle itself even though micro tension knots in the muscles itself are causing pain to be referred and felt in the buttocks.

Here’s an interactive anatomy lesson and an example of some exercises you can do to help stretch and free up this muscle, although to do them requires additional equipment (a swiss ball) and would not be recommended to an absolute beginner:

The self help exercises which follow in each article must feel comfortable to do at all times, there is no useful benefit to be gained and the chance of injury to occur by pushing yourself into any discomfort or further pain.  Also, remember to breath in deeply and breath out just as you’re about to go into the stretch, many people commonly (and unconsciously) hold their breath as they are about to perform stretches find that they can go a lot further as well as with less resulting pain after changing over to breathing properly as suggested.

So to finish off with, here are some simple exercises which do not require additional equipment and can be done by most, if not all when adapted to within your tolerance level.

The exercises should ideally be performed daily as part of a rehabilitation program and in conjunction with regular visits to a suitably qualified massage or physical therapist who can perform the supporting release or soft tissue manipulation work on the muscles involved.

See you in part 2!  Take care now.

14 June, 2010 at 00:19 9 comments

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Henry Tang – Therapeutic & Advanced Clinical Massage Practitioner (Crows Nest, Sydney, Australia)

Click image above to visit Spaces of Possibilities Wellness Centre, Crows Nest, Sydney, Australia.

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