Kinesthesia is the body’s ability to sense movement, position, action, and location, also known as proprioception. An example is when moving the arm, the brain and body are aware that the arm has moved. When dealing with chronic back pain, individuals are unable to function normally with regular everyday movements causing discomfort.
Chronic back pain can make an individual feel like a stranger in their body, altering their perception. Tension develops throughout the body due to the pain, causing tightness and positional adaptations that are unfamiliar, awkward, and unhealthy for the musculoskeletal system. These body positioning changes continue while the individual is unaware of what they are doing, causing further strain and injury.
Kinesthesia is essential for overall coordination, balance, and posture as long as the movements are done correctly with proper form. Chronic back pain can affect kinesthesia differently. Individuals can misjudge and estimate that their bodies’ ability to lift, carry, or open something is more complicated or easier than it is. This can exceed the body’s tolerances, causing:
- Severe injuries
Once the back starts to hurt, this causes the individual’s sense of kinesthesia to compensate for the pain. As a result, individuals may knowingly or unknowingly attempt to carry out uncoordinated, awkward movements and positions, making things worse.
Motor control is the ability to control movement. When experiencing back pain, individuals adjust their motor control to avoid specific movements that cause back pain. Motor control adaptations and kinesthesia involve body positioning and heightened responsiveness to stimuli, like muscle spasms. Even moderate back pain can cause awkward and dangerous responses causing individuals to overcompensate or become too cautious, worsening or creating new injuries in the process. The body is performing movements that do not follow proper form, even though an individual thinks they are protecting themselves.
Building Healthy Proprioception
A recommended strategy for building kinesthesia to benefit the back and the rest of the body is yoga. Yoga helps build bodily sensory awareness. It trains the body when sending significant signals from the muscles, joints, and tendons back to the proprioceptive centers in the brain. This happens immediately and increases over time.
Creating positive awareness of the body’s movements will help relieve back pain as the body learns to feel, understand, and control the muscles. Here are a few poses to help, along with video links.
Reclining Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose
- Lie with the back flat on the floor.
- Grasp the big toe, foot, or ankle in both hands, or use a yoga strap or towel if you cannot reach the toes.
- Hold the pose as long as possible while comfortable.
- Repeat steps two and three on the other side.
- Perform twice a day.
- This pose stretches the lower back muscles, prevents spasms, and alleviates pain.
- Avoid this pose if you have a herniated disc or retrolisthesis.
- Lie flat on the floor with knees bent.
- Arms bent on the floor.
- Press down on the elbows and feet to raise the torso off the floor.
- Hold and Repeat 4 to 5 times
- Perform daily to relieve herniated disc, retrolisthesis, and vertebral fracture pain.
- Avoid this pose if dealing with spinal stenosis, anterolisthesis, facet syndrome, or quadratus lumborum spasm.
Lord of the Fishes Pose
Body awareness is critical, but if an individual moves in a way that’s not natural to the body, it can cause injury. Kinesthesia and healthy posture can help avoid back pain and other health issues. A professional chiropractor can alleviate back pain, educate on proper form and recommend specific stretches and exercises to strengthen the body to prevent injury.
Magnesium supports a healthy immune system. It helps maintain:
- Healthy bone structure
- Muscle function
- Insulin levels
Magnesium assists the body with ATP energy metabolism and acts as a calcium blocker. This reduces cramping and aids in muscle relaxation after physical activity/exercise. Magnesium is essential in biochemical reactions in the body. A slight deficiency can lead to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and a higher risk of insulin resistance. Many magnesium-rich foods are high in fiber, like:
- Dark leafy greens
- Whole grains
Studies have shown that consuming a diet rich in Magnesium also provides a higher intake of dietary fiber. Dietary fiber aids in:
- Helps control weight
- Reduces cholesterol
- Stabilizes blood sugar
The best sources of Magnesium include:
- Spinach, swiss chard, and turnip greens
- Almonds and cashews
- Flax, pumpkin, and chia seeds
Meier, Michael Lukas et al. “Low Back Pain: The Potential Contribution of Supraspinal Motor Control and Proprioception.” The Neuroscientist: a review journal bringing neurobiology, neurology and psychiatry vol. 25,6 (2019): 583-596. doi:10.1177/1073858418809074
Tong, Matthew Hoyan et al. “Is There a Relationship Between Lumbar Proprioception and Low Back Pain? A Systematic Review With Meta-Analysis.” Archives of physical medicine and rehabilitation vol. 98,1 (2017): 120-136.e2. doi:10.1016/j.apmr.2016.05.016
Wang, Jinsong, et al. “Dietary magnesium intake improves insulin resistance among non-diabetic individuals with metabolic syndrome participating in a dietary trial.” Nutrients vol. 5,10 3910-9. 27 Sep. 2013, doi:10.3390/nu5103910
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