“We’ve ridden exclusively on the tandem (for the past 27 years!) We take pride in pushing boundaries for what Tandems can achieve. In 2013 we became the first tandem to complete the Colorado Triple Crown, the country’s hardest double century series, setting course records for tandem on all three courses. In 2014 we set a tandem course record on hoodoo 500. And in 2015 we were on the 4-tandem mixed RAAM team that shattered the course record that had stood for 19 years, for a 4-tandem mixed team under 50 (and the over 50 record while we were at it.) 3050 miles on 6 days 10 hours 37 minutes. We’re planning a Great Divide off pavement tandem expedition for 2017.” Andy White
Lumbar Curve and Pelvic Tilt Mythology
Of the 80% who have low back pain, an inordinate number seem to be getting, and worsening this condition from believing in some common low back pain-perpetuating myths. These myths surround misconceptions about the role played by the lumbar curve and the pelvic tilt. Their lumbar curve and pelvic tilt assumptions come from an uninformed aesthetic, structural and functional point of view.
Flattening Your Lumbar Curve
Forward bending exercises and stretches, without objective assessment of lumbar curvature, may cause you to develop an abnormally flat low back.
Sitting in a “C- shape”, the shape forced upon us when we sit in a bucket seat, will flatten your low back too.
Flattening your lumbar curve moves your spinal load forward, stretching open and spraining the posterior ligaments of your lumbar spine. Injured ligaments cause joints to become unstable — predisposing them to further misalignments and resulting nerve, inflammation, muscle and pain problems.
Flattening your lumbar curve overloads your front-side lumbar discs, increasing your risk for acute disc injury (bulging, herniation, rupture) and disc degeneration. Flattening your lumbar curve removes or decreases that curve’s spring-action, shock-absorbing function. Therefore, pounding forces traveling through your spine, previously absorbed by this spring, are focused upon your anterior lumbar discs.
Posterior Pelvis Rotation
Rotating your pelvis in the posterior direction additionally flattens your lumbar curve, adding to your already elevated risk for acute lumbar disc injuries and degenerative arthritis of the lumbar spine.
Also, by rotating your pelvis in the posterior direction, it is often believed that you activate your abdominal core muscles, stabilizing your pelvis, low back and rib cage. Unfortunately posterior pelvic rotation does not activate your abdominal core. By assuming that it does; and by using this maneuver during spinal loading activities like lifting, pushing and pulling; you exposes your unstable pelvis, low back and rib cage to joint misalignments and acute joint injuries.
Excessive Lumbar Curve
On the other hand, excessive lumbar curve and forward rotation of your pelvis shifts the loading down your posterior lumbar spine. Doing so stretches and sprains your lumbar spine’s anterior ligaments, resulting in associated ligament-injury problems.
Posterior loading of your lumbar spine takes the load off your intervertebral discs and shifts it upon your lumbar facet joints. Overloading of these joints causes compressive joint ligament injuries and joint surface wear and tear, bone deformation and arthritis.
Your lumbar discs cushion and absorb shocks passing along your spine. Shifting loading forces from your lumbar discs to your facet joints exposes these joints, and also joints throughout your entire body, to excessive pounding.
Bypassing Abdominal Core
Posterior lumbar load-shifting will bypasses the the critical weight-bearing/weight-transferring work performed by your abdominal core musculature.
Bypassing Lumbar “Leaf-Spring”
Furthermore, posterior loading of your lumbar spine diverts shock-producing forces from becoming dissipated through the leaf-spring action of the lumbar curve and into the posterior facet joints of your lumbar spine.
Snowboarding season is upon us here in Colorado and I can’t tell you how many times I have treated these athletes for sacroiliac joint butt-landing ligament injuries. These ligament failures accompany sacroiliac joint subluxations (misalignments less than dislocations) with attendant pain, stiffness and weakness. Depending upon the patient’s age and general health, immediate, accurate diagnosis and treatment will re-align the sacroiliac joints and heal the ligaments for uncomplicated recovery.
On the other hand, most people with chronic low back-hip-pelvis-leg pain, stiffness and weakness have, at some time in the more distant past, fallen on their butts and experienced the same injuries. Due to the long-term wear and tear of these injuries, these cases are often complicated by more severe ligament laxities, inflammation, cartilage loss and the pain of degenerative osteoarthritis.
I recommend that you take care of your sacroiliac joint ligament injuries and their attendant joint subluxations quickly and effectively. If you are still symptomatic after undergoing reasonable treatment, seek another opinion from a sacroiliac joint injury expert. Left unattended, these injuries can make your life miserable.
When performance of your activities of daily living are successful and within your ability to maintain good health, you have baseline fitness. Looking specifically at your joints, when you do your everyday lifting, bending, sitting, walking, running, pushing, pulling and throwing, do your joints remain stable? Are they already aligned or are they misaligned? If they are aligned, when you use them, do they remain aligned? How do you know if your joints are aligned in the first place? How do you know if you have healthy brain-to-nerve-to-muscle-to-joint feedback?
Of course you may come to see me and I’ll answer these questions for you. However, by using the following criteria, you should be able give yourself a fairly accurate assessment.
- Do you have joint aches or pains? When your joints miss-align, their state of abnormal mechanics cause them to grind and chafe, to become inflamed and they hurt.
- Do you have muscle aches or pains? When your joints miss-align, their associated nerve endings will report this to your brain. You brain will respond to this abnormal feedback by contracting certain muscles. Long-term muscle shortening strangles the muscular blood supply, cutting off the exchange of oxygen (anoxia) and nutrients with carbon dioxide and other waste products. Contracted, oxygen-deprived, waste-saturated muscles hurt.
- Are your joints stiff? Contracted muscles stiffen your joints.
- Are your muscles weak? Poor neuromuscular control of your joints weakens your muscles.
The stability your joints depends upon their ability to function with strength, flexibility and comfort. Your joint-mover and joint-stabilizer muscles must be reporting and receiving normal information to and from your brain. While your joint mover-muscles remain active, your joint stabilizer muscles must effectively oppose the actions of your joint-movers to keep your joints aligned and healthy. This is joint fitness in a nutshell.