the art and science of human movement
We help active people transform their lives through holistic empowering care that promotes mobility, fitness, confidence, and performance without pain meds, surgeries, or harmful procedures
Physical Therapy for Low Back Pain
Lower back (lumbar) pain is one of the most common injury complaints in the US today.
It is the second most common cause of disability in US adults, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Why are so many people suffering from this insidious condition? At times, low back pain is the result of a traumatic event or injury (ie. a fall or sports injury), but most commonly it is chronic (progresses or persists over a long period of time, often years) and insidious (proceeding in a gradual, subtle way, but with harmful effects).
Due to this subtle and gradual long-term progression, it becomes more clear to see how Posture plays a huge role in the advent and progression of low back pain.
Imagine this: When we slouch in our posture or bend forward (forward flexion) even as little as 1 degree, we put more weight on the low back since the low back muscles work harder to hold our body upright, and we put 3 times as much pressure on the spine and the discs between each of the bony vertebrae. All this can happen just from our daily standing and sitting postures (hence the long-term and subtle progression), and so the impact is then greatly increased with the addition of repetitive stresses, heavy loads, and athletic tasks. We stiffen up both with sitting, AND with repetitive muscle contraction and strain from exercise.
Our bodies are GREAT at adapting to these changes and compensating so that we don't feel pain over time, at least not right away. Especially in the spine, where we have so many small joints that articulate, kind of like the rings of a slinky. We compensate and don't feel pain, Up to a point! That is, until the pressures become so great that the discs (the cushions between the vertebral bones) can't withstand those forces any longer. Those small, subtle forces that accumulate over time- over days, months, years, decades- continue to build and/or wear down structures.
Then, bigger problems begin to occur. With some familiar names, such as:
Degenerative Disc Disease
The Good News:
Is that the body can heal and change!!.. if we know what to do to help it!
Surgery is not always the only option. And, in my humble opinion, should be the very last resort, after trying to improve non-invasively. This often takes a dedication and commitment to some simple activities that help to re-educate the spine and posture and not perpetuate whatever patterns have developed. Old injuries (eg. falls, tailbone falls, car accidents) can contribute to patterns over time if not treated effectively at the time of the injury. Again, we can make changes.
And we can make these changes together.
Where do I start?, you might ask..
Have a skilled expert observe these patterns and work with your individual body toward gradual long-lasting change. If that sounds overwhelming, start with seeking the expert help. Dr. Lara will assess your posture and movement patterns, determine what is leading to these postural deviations, what historical patterns are contributing, treat these patterns from the root of the problem, and give you homework to continue to re-educate your body into a new, more flexible alignment.
"I had been suffering from lower back pain for over ten years. This pain was becoming constant, especially during and after my favorite activities of soccer, skiing and biking. I tried chiropractic treatment, but stopped after realizing that the treatment only made me feel better for a few hours. I decided to take a different approach and started physical therapy with Dr. Lara Johnson. After reviewing my symptoms and history & analyzing my gait, Dr Lara quickly prescribed treatment which included weekly visits and at-home activities. I quickly found a lessening of my symptoms, and now experience pain-free activities and I can do the things I love completely pain free. Dr. Lara's unique approach was a life saver for me!”
I had extremely painful spinal stenosis that an MRI showed was caused by two spinal discs protruding into the spinal canal. Two doctors told me that I would need surgery. A third young doctor suggested that I see Lara Johnson, who does things differently than most physical therapists. Working with Lara over a period of months the pain gradually decreased and I am now pain free! Lara understands the human body well and specifies treatment and exercises that are specific to each person. I feel very fortunate that I was able to avoid surgery." -Shirley J., mid-70s, Boulder, CO
As a runner for over 40 years, I thought I should scale back before damage was done. Well, too late! With a subsequently diagnosed twisted L5/L4, my sciatic nerve on right side had gone out of service and the top and bottom were out of communication, resulting in atrophied this and that. Dr Lara worked with me for 18 months to re-imagine my core muscles to take pressure off the L4/L5 and restart the sciatic communication. Steady, dedicated therapy with her got me back on track, and healing is going well!