Discs as Water Balloons
To understand this, visualize a small, perfectly round water balloon. When you press it on straight down, the sides will bulge out evenly. But if you angle your hand slightly, it will reduce the size of an area of the bulge.
For those with lower back pain, this internal shifting of soft tissue structures may physically press on and irritate the spinal cord or nerve roots in the process; or may generate pain themselves. It happens because there is some abnormality about the soft tissue—it may be bulging or buckling and closing off a tunnel where nerve tissue is present.
Conversely, the shifting may promote less pressure to surrounding nerves and result in less frequent and less intense pain; sometimes resolution of pain. Again, it all depends on what is happening deep inside.
The strategy for self-treating low back pain, therefore, is to determine if you can make your back pain feel better by bending your back in different angles, repeatedly for the purpose of moving the offending bulging material “back in” where it can’t cause pain.
NEXT: Flexion or Extension?
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