One of the most common conditions that biokineticists see is lumbago, or lower back pain. Often, there is no exact known cause, yet the individual suffers from an ache in the lower back region, which does not radiate down into the legs. An individual may feel stiffness or experience muscle spasm in the lower back region, thus affecting the walking pattern.
There are many possible causes of this. The most common causes are poor posture when standing and seated, desk jobs and inactivity, muscular spasm due to stress and muscle weakness or tightness.
Factors that a biokineticist may consider when assessing the individual include posture, gait (walking pattern), ergonomics (how one sits at a desk), flexibility and muscle strength. It is often seen that weakness and tightness in certain muscle groups contribute to this problem. For example, an individual with this condition may have tight hamstrings and poor abdominal and core strength.
When rehabilitating an individual with this condition, the focus is on stretching the tight areas and strengthening the weak areas. Very specific techniques are used to ensure that the correct muscles are targeted, otherwise the problem may be exacerbated.
Individuals must learn to activate their tranversus abdominis (TA) muscle and then maintain this contraction throughout their daily activities. The TA plays a vital role in supporting the pelvic region and, therefore, reducing lower back pain. A biokineticist will teach you how to contract the TA and maintain the contraction while performing various exercises, so that this can be carried through into daily life. Individuals must also learn to activate multifidus, a deep muscle in the spine, which plays an important role in supporting the spine and thus reducing lower back pain. In many people, these muscles become lazy and dormant due to inactivity or incorrect exercise technique. Thus, it is important to be educated on how to re-awaken these sleeping muscles and use them correctly when carrying out daily activities.
Patients will also be given exercises to strengthen their abdominal, gluteal (buttocks) and lower back muscles. In deconditioned individuals, it is important to also strengthen the arms and legs for lifting heavy objects. It is also essential to educate patients on how to use their limbs, rather than their backs, to lift heavy objects and thereby reduce the risk of lower back pain.
In terms of stretching, the hamstring muscles and hip flexor muscles are often tight and need to be stretched. Careful techniques are used to ensure that the correct muscles are being stretched, with minimal involvement in the back. Remember: when stretching, one must only feel slight discomfort, not pain!