Today, I want to talk to you about a personal experience I had recently with low back pain and the brain.
One of the rules that we teach in our courses is this concept about sensory before motor.
Now, what that basically means is that when we look at how the brain makes decisions about everything in the world, it’s based off sensory input.
So the eventual movements that we make is, we call that an output. And, pain is an output.
So whenever we’re working on improving pain for someone we very often spend a lot of time evaluating their sensory inputs to try and figure out how we can help them most quickly.
I had a personal experience of this about a month ago. I was doing some heavy deadlifting in the garage. During that process. I was like, ah, I feel my low back a little bit around L5-S1 and in my sacroiliac joint on the right side.
So trying to be a good Z Health practitioner, I finished up my training. I did a little bit of mobility to cool down and then, I immediately grabbed my little Jawku massager
and I started with some sensory input. Some vibration, right?
So I was working on my hip and working on my low back with vibration and it helped some but it only reduced the pain about 25%.
So then I applied another idea which is sensory before motor.
So I did first the vibration and then I followed up with some mobility drills for the pelvis and the low back and then I did them at the same time. So I had the massager on my lower back while I was doing mobility drills and the combination of sensory and motor reduced the pain about 50% and I was like, okay that’s good enough for now. I’ll relax and get on with my day. I went and sat in my chair, working on the computer, trying to prepare some more stuff for courses.
And by the time I finished my workday, my pain had gone back up again. It was back up to what it had been at the end of the training session.
So now I’m challenged with okay, I’m the brain guy. How do I deal with this?
So the next concept that we teach in our courses is called sensory stacking. Sensory stacking basically means that once sensory input, may be, in this case vibration, may not be sufficient to create a change in the brains perspective on what’s happening.
Now, the next level of that is also understanding that there are two primary pathways
for sensation to reach the brain from the body. We have one pathway that’s kind of dedicated to light touch, discriminative touch and vibration.
And then we have another pathway that is dedicated to more gross sensations
as well as warm and cool and sharp and dull. So whenever we’re working with clients in the real world and what we teach to our students, is that, sometimes we met need input from both pathways into the sensory cortex to improve the eventual output.
So I did something really simple. I turned on the hot tub. I went and got in the hot tub. So my little hot tub has jets, which is great. So I got in the hot tub. I got my low back up against the area where the jet was.
So now I’m getting the vibration of the water combined with the heat. I’m now getting sensory input through two different pathways, two different kinds so that sensor stacking.
And then, as I stood there in front of the jets with the two pathways of input
going to the brain. I then started to redo my motor work, my mobility work, for the pelvis and low back.
I did that for about 4 minutes and the pain was magically gone.
Now, the reason I tell this story is to remind you of a couple of things.
If you’re in pain, think sensory before motor or sensory during motor so that your brain is getting a lot of information about movement.
And I also want you to remember the concept of stacking. That sometimes, we need more than one sensation, preferably sensation chosen from what’s called the dorsal column, and another from the spinothalamic tract so vibration and heat or cool work very well together, and that’s going to give you input from both systems.
If you stack those together and combine that with a little bit of pain-free movement, very often, that’s going to offer you a tremendous solution.
Give it a shot. Let me know what you think.