Effect of back class by condition

These are only anecdotal findings. No scientific research has been conducted.

1. General non-diagnosed lower back pain

Excellent results

The source of back pain in these individuals has not been identified. They account for more than 50% of participants in our back courses. As most express a benefit from the class, my assumption is that the class' focus to decompress the lower back counters the compression they experience sitting mainly inactive throughout the day at desk jobs.

2. Lordosis

Variable results

An excessive arch in the lower back is often the result of an anterior pelvic tilt. Most of the practices of the class counter this imbalance. Students with a moderate lordosis benefit while those with an excessive lordosis only find temporary relief at best. There is a special lordosis class to avoid the back-bending practices contraindicated for this condition.

3. Lumbar disc bulges or protrusions

Excellent results

A disc bulge implies a weakening within an intervertebral disc resulting in its protrusion beyond its normal perimeter. When such protrusion compromises surrounding tissues or nerves, it can trigger a pain response. One point of view is that, when dormant and asymptomatic, it is more susceptible to herniation if the body is ever put under undo physical stress. By focusing on decompression, the lower back class counters those forces that cause the discs to bulge.

4. Herniated discs

Excellent results

When a disc is herniated, the softer, gelatinous nucleus pulposus of the disc protrudes into the spinal canal, and the disc loses its hydraulic ability to swell and serve as a shock absorber. The disc loses height which in turn reduces the foriminal space through which spinal nerves pass, increasing the possibility of nerve impingement. After such an event, there are two significant consequences: (1) more immediately, a CT or MRI exam can determine whether the protrusion has compromised a spinal nerve and if so, whether surgical intervention is necessary to save the nerve from damage; (2) more long-term, the disc no longer maintains its shock-absorbing function. While still providing a filler space between two vertebrae, the disc is susceptible to gradual degeneration.

The teacher developed this class out of a need to resolve his own L4-L5 and L5-S1 herniated discs, but this was years after his initial injury. All students with herniated discs usually start class on average a couple of months after their initial injury once their back condition has stabilized and their doctor has determined that surgery is not required and resumption of physical activity is indicated. In such circumstances, the results of the lower back class are excellent.

5. Degenerative discs

Good results

Through aging, people’s intervertebral discs begin to lose their shock-absorbing properties. The discs become more brittle and erode through basic wear-and-tear. The lower back class works very well to counter the daily physical stresses that contribute to this condition depending on its severity.

6. Sciatica

Variable results

Sciatica describes a condition where there is referred pain down one or both legs with possible numbness or pins and needles feeling in the foot and toes. It results from the sciatic nerve being impinged somewhere along its pathway either due to one of the previous disc conditions or by tight lateral rotator muscles of the leg, such as the gluteous maximus or piriformis. It resolves itself by dealing with the underlying cause.

Any nerve impingement is serious. Medical examination to determine the location and severity of the impingement is the first order of business. The lower back class should not be done during a flare-up where inflammation may be present as any movement may further compress the nerve or increase inflammation to the area.

During a quiescent period, the lower back class may help improve the underlying condition, but certain practices are contraindicated. Therefore, the "7-Classes" iphone app has a special sciatica class that omits such contraindicated practices. That doesn't mean that the sciatica class has been specifically designed to improve sciatica conditions; it just means there is less risk of aggravating the condition with the practices chosen while still improving overall back health. Nevertheless, one should still be vigilant with the sciatica class stopping any practice at the first sign of discomfort and carrying out all of them with great awareness according to the guiding principles suggested in "before starting."

7. Discectomy

Variable results

This surgical intervention is performed to remove disc material that impinges a spinal nerve after a disc herniation. The lower back class’s precise, slow and focused approach is beneficial in terms of pain mitigation, but the more extensive the structural damage, the more temporary the results.

8. Scoliosis

Temporary results

This condition results from the curvature of the spine, often producing a C- or S-shape. Its cause can be structural (asymmetrical growth of the leg bones, for example) or functional (muscle imbalance). In either case, this teacher has found that the lower back class can only provide minimum relief.

9. Back pain upon having an epidural after birth

Unknown results

No students have come specifically for back pain suffered as a result of an epidural injection, and so no conclusion can be drawn as to the class's effectiveness relating to this condition.

10. Sacroiliac joint dysfunction - SI Pain

Poor results

When the ligaments that stabilize the sacrum and hip (ilium) are overstretched, the sacroiliac joint becomes unstable. Unlike muscle tissue, ligaments don't contract, so an overstretched ligament can not carry out its stabilizing function effectively. Some say that the problem originates as a result of the unaffected side being blocked, and they recommend asymmetric practices to nutate the unaffected side to reduce the stress on the affected side, but such practices are not included in this lower back class as the lower back class developed with more of a focus on disc problems.

Therefore, it would be safer to say that this class has had zero beneficial effect on this hip/sacrum condition. Nevertheless, many such students have come to try the class, and they even continue as they still find benefit for their lower back. As a few practices of the full back class are contraindicated for this condition, the lower back class has a special Sacroiliac Class that excludes those practices. That doesn't mean that the SI class has been specifically designed to improve this condition; it just means there is less risk of aggravating the condition with the practices chosen while still improving overall back health. Nevertheless, one should still be vigilant with the SI class stopping any practice at the first sign of discomfort and carrying out all of them with great awareness according to the guiding principles suggested in "before starting."

11. Bone spurs - osteophytes

Poor results

One theory goes that when the cartilaginous disc erodes, the body produces more bone in the area in an inadequate attempt to repair itself. This teacher has had students with this condition, and the class did not help.

12. Lumbar Spondylosis

Spondylosis is a general category for degenerative osteoarthritic conditions such as bone spurs and degenerative and herniated discs where disc space height is lost and nerve impingement is likely to occur as a result. The class's effect to reduce compression on the lumbar vertebrae provides relief depending on the nature and severity of the underlying specific condition.

13. Arthritis

Osteoarthritis

Modest results

Referred to as the “wear-and-tear” arthritis, it develops when the cartilage protecting bone wears down, as with knees and degenerated intervertebral discs. Calcification occurs in the adjoining tendons as the body’s means to stabilize the damaged area, limiting range-of-motion.

Depending on the severity, the lower back class can only provide modest benefit at best, but careful, focused movement is important to slow down the calcification process to maintain one's current range-of-motion. If you take the class, be sure to limit your range-of-movement to what is comfortable and to skip any practice that doesn’t feel beneficial. If you experience an inflammatory response, proceed as you normally do against inflammation.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Modest results

This is a systemic autoimmune condition that results in inflammation and fibrous tissue growth in many joints limiting range-of-motion.

The lower back class can only provide modest benefit at best, but careful, focused movement is important to retard fibrous growth. One rheumatoid arthritic student coming for years said her medicine helps more, but the class restores her sense of well-being. If you take the class, stay within a comfortable range-of-movement and duration and skip any practice that doesn’t feel beneficial. If you experience an inflammatory response, proceed as you normally do against inflammation.

14. Stenosis

Foraminal Stenosis

Good results

Stenosis is to the abnormal narrowing of an opening. Lateral spinal stenosis, also known as foraminal stenosis, refers to the narrowing of the foraminal space between vertebrae through which a nerve root passes to enervate a muscle or organ of the body. Such foraminal stenosis may occur as a result of a disc herniation or disc degeneration. The back class should provide benefit for an isolated foraminal stenosis in the lumbar spine.

Spinal Stenosis

Uncertain results

Where stenosis or abnormal narrowing occurs within the whole length of the spinal canal, the class is unlikely to provide benefit. If the stenosis is due to the shifting of vertebrae in the lumbar region, the class may benefit. If you take the class, find a comfortable range-of-motion to avoid the slightest discomfort and skipping whole practices where necessary.

15. Back Pain from Car Accidents

Variable results

Car accidents can produce irregular problems that the lower back class was not designed to address. It may or may not be beneficial depending on the severity of the injury.

16. Thoracic and Cervical Spine Pain

Variable results

The lower back class is designed to benefit the lumbar spine (lower back) only and should be net neutral for the rest of the back and neck. However, people with thoracic and cervical problems have taken the class with the understanding that if they should encounter any discomfort in any part of the back or neck, they should stop immediately. With the "7-Classes" iphone app, it is easy skip to the next practice.

Final Comment:

Bear in mind that the class was designed to improve the instructor’s own functioning and to reduce pain after having herniated two intervertebral discs. Therefore, people with disc-related conditions are likely to find the greatest benefit.

However, since 2000, it has provided benefit to students with other back conditions to varying degrees depending on the severity and nature of their conditions.

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Image sources: lordosis, disc bulging, disc herniation, disectomy, sciatica, sacroiliac, epidural, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, foraminal stenosis.