Have you ever had low back pain and months or years later ended up having an issue with severe neck pain or discomfort? Did you ever wonder how low back pain and neck pain are correlated or, if they are? You may have simply picked up your child or a any box off the ground and suffered a low back spasm or, it actually went out leaving you on the ground not able to move. You then had to rehab it which most likely included strengthening your core, the muscles around said possible disc bulge. Perhaps a few months to some years later you were doing a hardcore Bootcamp or other such class that included a lot of heavy lifts and burpees, you then felt a pull in your neck and after you went to sleep that night you awakened the next morning not being able to move your head because of the excruciating pain coming from your neck. I’m sure you never thought that how low back pain and neck pain are correlated or that one might effect the other in the long term, you may have even thought you were simply getting older. I’m here to tell you that you’re not getting old!! You only get old in your head if you want to. 🙂 On a side note I saw this 80 year old woman that is a trainer and is incredible shape, she certainly isn’t old but, she’s 80 and by most people standards that’s old. I for one want to be in great shape my entire life and look that great at that age too regardless of any back or neck pain so, it’s important to keep muscles strong.
If you’ve had neck pain or low back pain due to trauma or disc bulge be sure to strengthen the muscles around the neck as well as the ones in the lower back to keep the other part of the spine from an injury later. Keep in mind that the body is a whole organic unit and is not divided into parts but instead work in concert in a functional manner day to day, movement is what the body is made for not sitting for hours upon hours. Too often people train or rehab specific areas that have been injured without being conscious of the fact that the injury may have been caused by another muscle or joint and so it’s important to keep all muscles strong and working together as a whole not just in parts.
“There is an approximately 72% injury correlation within five years of injuring either the neck or lumbar pelvic region.” Meaning that if you injure the neck region within 5 years it is highly likely that you will injure the low back as well if you do not strengthen it properly. Also, according to fitness expert Paul Chek, “Any trauma to the neck or spine causes a neurological impairment to the shoulder-arm complex.” There are nerves that run the length of the spine which also serve the muscles so, you can imagine now that if you feel pain in one area it may stem from another. “The cervical plexus innervates C1, C2, C3, and C4 which also serve Upper trapezius, SCM, Omohyoid, Levator Scapulae (C4/5), Rhomboids (C4). Levator Scapulae and rhomboids are also fed by the brachial plexus which innervates remaining shoulder musculature (C5, C6, C7, C8, T1 and T2). Any trauma to theneck or spine causes a neurological impairment to the shoulder-arm complex.” This is how back pain and neck pain are related. Also, if you are feeling pain in your elbow or shoulder it could be coming from tight Levators or even Rhomboids but not at the exact point you may be feeling the pain. Be sure to get a qualified health practitioner to assess you properly and give you the appropriate exercises or stretches.
Remember, the body moves together as a unit, the neck and low back are related and, it’s important to strengthen the entire musculoskeletal system not just in isolated movements unless, it’s short term rehab with a focus on one area vs the others. Just keep in mind that if you have a neck disc issue it is highly likely that you will end up with a lumbar problem within 5 years if not corrected properly and the entire body strengthened in its’ natural functional way especially, if you have a desk job where you sit all day in front of a computer, this leads to rounded shoulders, neck pain, forward head posture, tight hamstrings, weak hip flexors and, a flat back. I know I say it often but it’s true….the body is meant for movement.
If you’re not sure how to get started or have had a bad injury then hire an experienced personal trainer to do a proper assessment and create a custom program for you. Walking and hiking are also a great ways to stay active if you don’t care for gyms or indoor classes. Whatever you decide just remember that to stay active creates a youthful energy and is one great way to stay young whatever your age.