Back and neck pain

It is important to keep the natural shock absorbers in our back and neck mobile. It makes allot of sense too try and keep your spine as healthy as possible through proper movement.

During physical activity, stresses are placed onto the spine and the discs. The discs act as buffers between the vertebral bodies, absorb the imposed compressive shock to the spine and redistribute the forces to other parts of the spine. They protect the spine in order that the spine remains stable and flexible. The intervertebral disc is very similar to a jelly-filled doughnut. The jelly inside the doughnut is called the nucleus pulposus, outer rim of the doughnut which is firm and hard is called the annulus fibrosis and the upper and lower crusts of the doughnut are called the vertebral endplates. When a person bends forward, backward or sideways, outer rim of the doughnut known as the annulus fibrosis bulges outward in the direction toward which the body bends (concave side).

The jelly inside the doughnut also moves in the direction of the bend but in the normal spine, the jelly quickly returns to its original position once the body returns to its neutral position. Normally, the jelly (nucleus pulposus) takes most of the compressive shocks that occurs to the spine and redistribute it to the annulus fibrosis. With aging, the jelly solidifies making it harder and less resilient for force re-distribution. The annulus fibrosis then is exposed to most of the loading that occurs to the spine. With vertebral compression forces, the structure that fails first is the vertebral endplates where fractures can occur. With bending and twisting movements of the spine, stresses are most placed to the back and sides (posterolateral aspect) of the annulus fibrosus since this portion is weaker and thinner compared to the front. When the annulus fibrosus ruptures (disc herniation), release of contents of the nucleus pulposus are irritating to the spinal nerve roots causing inflammation and pain. This usually causes acute pain. Chronic pain on the other hand has complex mechanisms.

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About the Author :

Hans de Wit

Master Therapist, Founder & CEO of AIS Association of SA

Hans de Wit is a qualified sport massage therapist (2002), sport and exercise technologist, exercise physiologist and accredited Mattes stretching therapist. He studied at the Tshwane University of Pretoria and received a diploma in 2002, and continued in obtaining a B-Tech degree in sport science and exercise physiology 2003. He received personal education from Aaron L. Mattes in 2005, and gained experience at his clinic in Sarasota, Florida, in the USA. De Wit is a member of the South African Sports Medicine Association and presents seminars and workshops on active isolated stretching to many healthcare professionals, athletes and trainers around the country. He currently directs stretching & rehabilitation clinics in Pretoria, South Africa.

Throughout his career as a stretching therapist, De Wit was able to identify an enormous demand for proper education in and development of active isolated stretching: “It is the most effective method of stretching and aid for the development of healthy muscles that I have ever came across.” De Wit’s compassion and love for this wonderful profession has lead him to become an expert in all methods of stretching. His education and wonderful charisma has touched the lives of thousands of people, leaving them pain-free and changed for life.

With the enormous amount of case studies and successful work done over the years as a master AIS Therapist; Hans has been working toward his goal of sharing this knowledge with group exercise instructors, personal trainers and the medical profession in a more effective way than seminars and workshops; and founded the AIS Association of South Africa which will enable this work to continue touching thousands of lives.


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