Chronic low back pain is common in our society. As we age, the rate of incidence regarding chronic spinal pain, particularly the lumbar spine, increases. Mobility, stability and flexibility are often decreased in this population of pain sufferers. Interestingly, as these markers (mobility, stability, and flexibility) decrease, pain tends to increase in an inverse relationship. In these patients, it can be difficult to know there is a problem until pain arises. It is common to believe that the problem recently began since the pain recently began. However, there may have been a problem brewing for a long time, maybe for years, before the sensation of pain. There is a great way to gauge how all three of these markers are functioning that can be used in the office or at home: rolling patterns. Here is a great article by Gray Cook, PT and Michael Voight, DPT regarding rolling patterns Rolling Patterns – PubMed. In simple terms, rolling over correctly requires proper function of muscles and joints in a coordinated fashion. It seems easy, but if there are inadequacies in a patient’s mobility, stability, and/or flexibility in several key regions of the body, the movement’s difficulty may be surprising.
Try the rolling pattern laying on your back and rolling to your stomach using only your arms and upper body. Then reverse onto your back using only your arms and upper body. Then try it with only your legs and lower body. You may find that some movements are easier than others. If so, this may be an underlying contributor to spinal pain. If you do not currently have spinal pain, this movement pattern may be a predictor of future problems. Try this movement and report the results to your movement specialist.