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Author Topic: Stretching  (Read 3450 times)
G M
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« on: September 11, 2010, 04:31:48 PM »

I'm running more these days, and I'm not near as limber as I used to be. Any good stretching routines for the lower body, especially the hamstrings?
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #1 on: September 11, 2010, 11:00:04 PM »

I am sure you will get several good suggestions, but my contribution is to remind you to stretch your hip flexors too:
psoas
ilio
quads
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5RingsFitness
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« Reply #2 on: September 13, 2010, 01:24:19 PM »

I'm running more these days, and I'm not near as limber as I used to be. Any good stretching routines for the lower body, especially the hamstrings?

In my humble and somewhat educated (for what its worth) opinion
nothing indicates that stretching has any real effect on performance, good or bad

best information I have had access to indicates that mobilizing the joints of the muscles that you want to loosen up, will give a better effect, short and long term
not only by loosening up the areas, but by taking the stress off of those areas, the gait is changed, making it more efficient
more efficient means less energy expended and less stress overall
which gives a better neurological map for the cns to navigate with

I quit stretching in 08, went to dynamic joint mobility strategies instead and have not looked back
I can even prove my point with muscle testing, showing how stretches make the muscles weaker and mobilization makes them stronger

as a point of reference, stretching, unless taken beyond the plastic threshold of the tissue (thats called a tear) will only last for a few minutes before the tissue returns to its former shape, continuously stretching tissue leads to -A:bad motor pattern that lets a group relax when it should not or B:damage in the long term from being taken past plastic point of tissue

ok, it was more like my 10$ rather than .02$

check these out, the toe pulls and ankle tilts esp for running
 http://www.vimeo.com/14641582
pass:4Highpayoffs

the ankle tilts target the hamstrings by mobilizing the talo/calcaneal joint
the outside toe pull targets the glut medius by mobilizing the cuboid joint
the middle toe pull targets the rectus femoris (quad/hip flexor) by mobilizing the cuneiform
and the inside toe pull targets the psoas by mobilizing the navincular joint

http://facstaff.gpc.edu/~jaliff/appendsk.htm scroll down till you see the bones of the foot

you are looking to get a very gentle opening of the joints 1-2 mm about as much as your knuckle opens when you make the okay sign and squish the the index finger down with your thumb

never move into pain, move only through the edge of tension

dont do it if you have swelling, or an existing injury

not a doctor, don't play one on tv
not making medical or any other claims
I am not treating, diagnosing or claiming to cure anything
I am worth every penny you paid for this Wink
(actually I am 150$ per hour for neuroplastic athletic development and performance enhancement/personal fitness consulting, and I do skype;) )
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"Nations have passed away and left no traces, And history gives the naked cause of it - One single simple reason in all cases; They fell because their peoples were not fit."-Rudyard Kipling
G M
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« Reply #3 on: September 13, 2010, 01:36:50 PM »

Thanks 5Rings.

I had no idea. I will have to educate myself on dynamic joint mobility strategies.
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Kaju Dog
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« Reply #4 on: September 13, 2010, 10:39:59 PM »

Awsome post 5Rings  afro

My humblest respects,
KD
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prentice crawford
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« Reply #5 on: September 14, 2010, 12:40:30 AM »

Woof Kaju Dog,
 No offence, but you need to get with the times and cut the fro, man. cheesy
                               P.C.
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5RingsFitness
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« Reply #6 on: September 14, 2010, 12:30:47 PM »

rock the fro, to and ....
don't fade the funk man its not all about function,you have to have style too lol


seriously
no worries, happy to provide anything I can
if there are specific things you would like to work on, let me know, I may be able to assist over the interwebs
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"Nations have passed away and left no traces, And history gives the naked cause of it - One single simple reason in all cases; They fell because their peoples were not fit."-Rudyard Kipling
stilljames
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« Reply #7 on: September 18, 2010, 06:17:10 AM »

I'm not a qualified athletic trainer.  I just go from my own personal experiences.

While I broadly agree with 5Rings, I would like to make a couple of points.

'Stretching' is a category of activities that all 'stretch' ie lengthen something.  In this case, we are discussing the muscles and tendons.  There are several types of stretching.  Static stretching is one of them.  Mobile stretching is another.  Ballistic stretching is a third.  There are a few others but I do not recall them at this instant.  All of the types of stretching have their place.  They all have benefits and they all have dangers if overused and done incorrectly.

What type of stretching works best? That depends on A Your body.  B Your Goals.   C Your Routine.

A runner's patterns are different than a grapplers and both are different than a power-lifter who is also different from a bodybuilder.

For myself, I find that a mixture of types of stretching works but I use more mobile stretching than static by about 3:1ish.  I also do not use static stretching before running.  I have about 10 different running patterns that I regularly use and then make up new ones for any given day all the time.  But my general warm up is about 5 minutes of rotations and other movements followed by 5-10 minutes of walking.  then I do a light jog for 2 minutes.  And then walk a minute.  Then I do whatever routine I've worked out for the day.  At the end, I do a 10 minute cool down and work my way through tight muscle groups to loosen them.  The big things are to listen to your body. And to know when to quit and when to push through.  Unfortunately, only experience can tell you that.

My big advice is to tailor your routine for your needs and goals.  If you're a fighter, why borrow a distance runner's routine.  Do a fighter's routine for running.  If you're a sprinter, don't train like a marathoner, save for a break.  There are all kinds of exceptions to these but we could be here for years discussing the exceptions to the guidelines.

A last point.  Does stretching weaken muscles?  The research I have done is this:  Sort-of.  In the sense that longer muscles tend to be less effective at short, explosive bursts of power, yes, stretched muscles are weaker.  At last count, their are 4 major types of muscle fiber (two types of fast twitch and two types of slow twitch.)  Again, this leaves out all the oddball muscles and exceptions.  Some types are better at some things than others.  Everyone has a different mixture of types. 

The trick is to figure out what your goals are and work to promote them.  For myself and myself alone, I prefer looser, longer muscles that are perhaps slightly weaker.  But I also have goals that primarily focus on endurance and people trying to tie me into a pretzel.

Again, I broadly agree with 5Rings.  But there is also more to the story.  There's not substitute for research and for listening to your body.   I would also add to not forget your upper back and shoulders when loosening up.  Carrying your upper body too tightly and out of position can through your hips and other parts of your stride off which leads to pain.
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5RingsFitness
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« Reply #8 on: September 20, 2010, 05:17:53 PM »

excellent follow up still
reasoned and well worded
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"Nations have passed away and left no traces, And history gives the naked cause of it - One single simple reason in all cases; They fell because their peoples were not fit."-Rudyard Kipling
stilljames
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« Reply #9 on: October 06, 2010, 07:05:55 AM »

Thank you, 5Rings.

I have been paying attention to my stretching since this post came up.  I noticed something.  Even my 'static' stretches are not all that static.  Over a decade ago, I started using breathing techniques I picked up from shooting firearms with stretching.  When I started paying closer attention, I spotted that I am almost always tightening and releasing the muscles with my breaths even when I appear stationary.
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sting
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« Reply #10 on: October 06, 2010, 02:31:47 PM »

This thread should be condensed.  After my own research, I've summarized

1) Stretching does not prevent any injuries.
       Break a sweat to "warm up" before any strenuous activity and do your activity regularly

3) Most stretching is a complete waste of time other than the pleasurable sensation it produces.
     If your activity requires an increased range of motion, extending your current range is beneficial at the expense of optimal performance
     in the normal range.  i.e. long distance runners do not need to stretch at all

4) Prolonged static stretching yields a temporary 1/3 reduction in strength for up to an hour
     This also results in a reduction in muscular coordination.

5) Stretching can cause lasting injuries when muscle tension strains connective tissue.

6) Stretching is bad for you when it displaces other physical activity
     Yoga makes you fat when you rely on that hour for your calorie-burning physical training.

7) Most increases in range of motion are better achieved by training the muscles that produce the motion.
    i.e.  Strength training rather than flexibility training will allow for more accurate kicks to the head of a standing opponent.

8 ) Regular training in your activity is adequate dynamic stretching will train your body to the optimal range of motion and will extend it beyond that achieved from sitting in an office, car, sofa or sleep.  This is your sports-specific stretching program.

9) Most static stretching does *not* increase performance in sports that require an increase in the range of motion because muscular elongation is regulated by a neural mechanism that is sensitive not only to the magnitude of the stretch but also to the velocity and acceleration of the stretch.

10) It is better to stretch vigorously than to do no physical activity of any kind.
    There are benefits to stretching, but no one is sure what they really are.




« Last Edit: October 06, 2010, 07:49:00 PM by sting » Logged

Baltic Dog

Go Shin Jutsu Kenpo (Prof. Richard Lewis)
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #11 on: October 06, 2010, 05:45:50 PM »

Baltic:

Good idea to summarize!

To complicate things, I would like to add the following variables into the mix:

1) soft static stretching i.e. simply loosening into a position e.g. laying on back with legs against wall and weight of legs works on release of abductors.

2) active static stretching:  increase of range of motion is developed by strengthening peak contraction of complementary muscles.  This can be done either by
               a) the complementary muscle working at the same time as the muscle being stretched/released or
               b) PNF ([proprio neuro facillitation or something like that) wherein the complementary muscle is actively worked
                   isometrically (often with the assistance of a training partner) in the range of motion in question, thus
                   triggering a stretch/release of the muscle in question

3) ballistic stretching: e.g. swinging the legs

Where do these fit in Baltic Dog's summary? 
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5RingsFitness
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« Reply #12 on: October 07, 2010, 07:03:10 AM »

one thing to bear in mind may be the following

why are you stretching

and follow up to that

what will you do after


for example
I stretch or mobilize or what have you
then go sit on the couch
this gives my cns a new neuro muscular pattern to work with, for sitting on the couch

if after creating a better platform for performance through mobilization, stretching, active release, foam rolling, tens, emt, Rolfing, or eating a brontosaurus steak, I go use that new platform to refine a motor skill, the more efficient movent pattern becomes the higher order choice

being wired for survival is a bonus
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"Nations have passed away and left no traces, And history gives the naked cause of it - One single simple reason in all cases; They fell because their peoples were not fit."-Rudyard Kipling
bluesbassist
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« Reply #13 on: October 07, 2010, 02:07:06 PM »

Very good info here and fits well with my own research and experience. My super simplified approach to stretching is similar to what stilljames posted.

Before a workout is the time to warm up muscles, joints and connective tissues by 1) easy cardio to raise heartrate (walking, knee bends, knee lifts, light jogging) 2)Joint rotations (more and more important as I get older) 3) Dynamic stretching (some easy leg and arm swings)


After the workout is when I do static stretching. I use this as a way to cool down and a chance to relax and review in my mind the things I did in the work out. I stretch the target area to where I start to feel a nice stretch but well before the point it gets painful. Breathing deeply I relax into a deeper stretch but never to the point of pain and always aware of keeping the muscles other than the target muscles relaxed (particularly when stretching the hamstrings it's easy to tighten up your quads). Sort of yoga like though I don't know much about yoga. This type of stretching does cause a certain amount of muscle weakness afterwords which is why I do it post workout.
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Guide Dog
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« Reply #14 on: October 07, 2010, 03:27:03 PM »

I know, I know...not another product. I was turned on to this system of stitching by a martial arts friend who stays in excellent shape, and who wanted to continue in the martial arts after a major knee surgery. The book is fascinating, and it addresses the issues/concerns raised above.

http://www.amazon.com/Genius-Flexibility-Smart-Stretch-Strengthen/dp/0743270878
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #15 on: October 07, 2010, 04:24:08 PM »

5 Rings post reminds me of something I read in a "Heal your Back" book; the gist of it was that it is really important to cool down in good posture and alignment.  Slouching, as can often be seen on a JJ mat when someone is exhausted and done for the day, leads to the ligaments/muscles, which are in a rather moldable condition, to mold in a misaligned way-- or something like that.  It is something which I have taken to heart.
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sting
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« Reply #16 on: October 07, 2010, 08:56:53 PM »

bluesbassist, you describe the routine of sports researcher Tom Kurz.   Check out his book on the topic "Stretching Scientifically", but the 4th edition is the best.

 _Stretching Scientifically: A Guide to Flexibility Training (4th Revision ed)_ by Thomas Kurz (Paperback - Mar 2003)
http://www.amazon.com/Stretching-Scientifically-Flexibility-Training-Revision/dp/0940149451/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1286502747&sr=8-1

I followed his advice for a decade, though I have my own list of why I do not stretch like a dancer or yogi.

Does anyone have an answer to this question :  why is yoga purported to improve performance in every other physical activity, but no other physical activity is purported to improve one's yoga?  
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Baltic Dog

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michael
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« Reply #17 on: October 07, 2010, 10:07:07 PM »

I do a combination calisthenic/yoga type workout every morning, which helps me not only maintain strength, but keep my low-back in as good of condition as possible. I have several low-back disc issues, and the combination of yoga-type stretches that I have come up with through much trial and error, and my bodyweight exercises keep me going, along with my inversion table. The stretching portion I do is static, but it is in combination with several sets of push-ups, arm circles, v-situps, squats and lunges. I do them all in a circuit, which takes about 20 minutes each morning. I do know that when I skip more than one day, I can tell a definite difference in tightness in my low back.
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bluesbassist
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« Reply #18 on: October 08, 2010, 12:22:13 AM »

Baltic Dog, I have an older version of "Stretching Scientifically" as well as the VHS. That along with a few other sources ("Synerstretch" from Health for Life, "Stretching" by Bob Anderson) combined with my own experimentation has led to what I do now. But I'm always open to try new ideas.
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sting
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« Reply #19 on: October 08, 2010, 02:15:26 PM »

Don't get me wrong.  There is value in ritual and repetition.  If someone with lower back issues has found a routine that provides relief, stick with it.  Personally, I was in the "seeking relief for lower back pain" category.  The universal recommendation was yoga, but most of those recommendations come from office workers (mostly women) that exercise with yoga exclusively.  After three months of bi-weekly yoga classes, my back was no better off.  What did help is 30 body weight deep slow (5 seconds down, 5 seconds up) squats as well as a new lower body weight lifting routine.  My utilitarian nature is attracted to the stretching and strengthening of weighted squats or performing the oldest known karate kata (Naihanchi) over a static pose (Yoga Pine Tree? comes to mind).
« Last Edit: October 08, 2010, 08:40:25 PM by sting » Logged

Baltic Dog

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Bono JKD/Kajukenbo (Prof. John Bono)
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G M
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« Reply #20 on: October 08, 2010, 04:01:33 PM »

I've found doing "bridges" has helped my lower back pain quite a bit.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #21 on: October 08, 2010, 05:31:00 PM »

1) There are MANY different kinds of yoga, and they can operate according to very distinctive underlying concepts, so IMHO the term yoga is so vague that for our purposes here it is insufficiently precise in its meaning.

2) Squats and bridges make perfect sense to me for lower back pain.  As I have written in varying levels of detail previously  IMHO most lower back pain is due to shortened hip flexors and weakened peak contraction of hip extensors.  )This is why forward bending to "stretch" the back is usually uttterly useless except as a short term palliative.) By strengthening the latter, squats and bridges trigger release of the fomer; or as is said in the "Crafty Dog Self Help Principals":  "Where a muscle is tight, in that range of motion the complementary muscles are weak"

In my experience yoga that taps into this principal is effective, whereas yoga that does not is not effective.
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sting
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« Reply #22 on: October 08, 2010, 08:42:37 PM »

Good principle, Crafty.  I'll have to give yoga a second chance.  Some of the "hot" yoga classes appeal to those seeking sweat a quart and walk around two pounds lighter.   Can't stop ...
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Baltic Dog

Go Shin Jutsu Kenpo (Prof. Richard Lewis)
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Bono JKD/Kajukenbo (Prof. John Bono)
Gentlemen's Fighting Club
Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #23 on: October 09, 2010, 01:37:46 PM »

I went to one of those "hot" yoga classes (Bikram?).  I thought the progression of positions not particularly well thought out, but , , , the scenery was hot!  evil
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michael
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« Reply #24 on: October 09, 2010, 04:09:43 PM »

My low-back problems are due to degenerative/bulging discs at L4-L5, and L5-S1, so what works for me will likely not work for others. It has taken me several years of trial and error to find something that is most effective for me. As far as the "yoga" I do, I use the down dog and child postures, along with a piraformis stretch and several others. The inversion table helps, and I do slow bodyweight squats as low as I can go, pausing at the bottom for the stretch and then a controlled rise back to the top. I usually do 50 of these every morning, so my methods is by no means a "pure yoga" workout, whatever that is.
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stilljames
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« Reply #25 on: October 11, 2010, 07:58:55 AM »

In agreement with Guru Crafty, I would say that 'yoga' is as vague of a term as 'kung fu'  or 'do.'  I am as guilty of misusing it as anyone else as a short of shorthand.  Much like any school or class, not all are equivalent.  Yoga is very popular at the moment so there are a lot of classes.  Many of them are not so good.  Whenever things are really popular atm, a common theme is to change up a pattern so as to put a personal stamp on it-whether or not this is a good idea.  Or to jump on the bandwagon and start cashing in without an adequate understanding.  As anyone here knows, that is a dangerous thing.  Think of all the fastbuck merchant MMA schools springing up these days.  Yoga is also like  that, right now.

My experience is that a bad yoga class is sleepily stretching to Indian music CDs.  A good yoga class definitely gets the heart rate up and works the muscles and trains the mind to focus and isolate in on things.  Part of it is the teacher and part of it is the student-GIGO on both parts.

Personally, I am far more into Tai Chi Chuan than Yoga. I'm not saying one is better than the other.  I just happen to like the former more.  It's my flavor of ice cream. But I go play with most things.  For Example, I'm going to go spend a few weeks playing with Baltic Dog's summary and see if I notice any differences in the gym.

One of the biggest things that I can say for sure about stretching, back pains and the like is: Pay Attention All The Time.  It only does us a little good to spend an hour a day stretching if we spend the other 23 hours a day hunched over, curled up, stiff, tight and tense.  There are a lot of little changes that can be made to reduce pains and problems.  Changing TV And Computer Monitor Heights a few inches.  Changing chair heights a few inches can reduce hip, back and knee pain.

Some personal examples:  I recently had to add some blocks beneath my couch because I noticed it was keeping my knees and back in a cramping position.   For years, I drove low slung sports cars and suffered knee pain.  I traced most of the source to the way I was getting in and out of the car.  Once I modified it, within 6 months, the knee pain was gone.  Until I got into my middle thirties and the cumulative mileage of a self-abusing life started showing but that is a different story.

My summary for the end:  If we're worried about stretching out tight muscles, pay attention to how we live our lives and see where we are putting the tightness into ourselves.

Just a thought.

Stilljames.

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5RingsFitness
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« Reply #26 on: October 11, 2010, 01:23:26 PM »

we are wired to move
good follow up still

lots of good stiff in this thread

another quick point would be that after getting more/better ROM or movement to then perform some autonomous task like walking to set the new pattern in the cns
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"Nations have passed away and left no traces, And history gives the naked cause of it - One single simple reason in all cases; They fell because their peoples were not fit."-Rudyard Kipling
rio
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« Reply #27 on: October 20, 2010, 01:54:57 PM »

To Michael, GM and Crafty,
Haven't been around for awhile gents but saw threads on lower back issues. Seems my lower back was a little sore last week during training. Warmed up for good workout this Monday and during drills, went to pick an ankle and felt all kinds of pain in lower back. I couldn't even finish move. Felt like I started the motion and just felt sharp twinge. Had my wife rub it a little and to check for any deformities. She said she may feel a slight impression along spinal column where pain is located. Moving around yesterday at work and felt a slight release when I rotated my hips around, with some popping noises. Should I be concerned? Other than what feels like muscle pain, and limited motion that's getting better, there's no weird feelings like numbness or electricity.
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G M
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« Reply #28 on: October 20, 2010, 04:32:56 PM »

I'd go in to have a medical professional check it out. It sounds like it's resolved it's self, but you want to be sure. As someone who has suffered several back injuries in the line of duty, I can tell you that's crucial to take care of your back. I've been unable to get out of bed or reduced to using a cane while hunched over like an elderly man at times because of back injuries. Don't take your back for granted.
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michael
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« Reply #29 on: October 21, 2010, 09:28:46 AM »

Rio, I agree with what G.M. said. There is no way to know without an exam, and I would have it checked to be sure. Often, back issues will be there for years before something finally "happens", such as what happened to you. Usually, some benign movement brings on the pain, only to discover the problem has been there for a long time undiagnosed. I hope that it is nothing serious for you. Most are muscular issues and not disc-related like mine, and I hope this is the case with you.
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