Many of us feel quick and even immediate relief from our stiffness and pain when we do Essentrics. Yet while the results can come fast in other parts of our body, our lower back seems to require a longer time to loosen. For some of us, no matter how we tuck our tail bone, we can't seem to round our lower back to decompress the spine. Why is that?
One important reason is the structure of our lower back. There is a vast amount of connective tissues encasing that part of our body. These connective tissues are commonly known as fascia and are primarily made of collagen. In particular, because of the sheet like, layered structure of the fascia in our lower back, this thoracolumbar fascia is also called lumbar aponeurosis. ("Apo" means "of" while "neurosis" came from "sinew," or supporting force.) It consists of layers of flat, broad tendons that connect our back muscles to the spine.
Fascia is far less flexible than muscles, which can contract as much as 30% and extend as much as 70%. Fascia, however, only have a flexibility range of 4% to 6%. For this reason the lumber aponeurosis provides stability in our lower back. Yet despite the limited flexibility, fascia, like muscles, is meant to move. When we become sedentary, fascia dries up and stiffens. While the lumbar aponeurosis is richly supplied with thin blood vessels and sensory receptors, in terms of blood supply it pales in comparison to muscles. Therefore, if it becomes stiff from a lack of proper movements, it can take longer than muscles to restore and rebalance.
More importantly, the sheer size and thickness of the lumbar aponeurosis means that it takes longer to loosen versus aponeuroses in other areas such as our palms and feet.
Imagine rubbing two ice cubes against each other, or stirring ice cubes in a glass of water. The movements add kinetic energy to the ice cubes, increase the temperature, and help them to melt. These can describe the loosening of the aponeuroses in our palms and feet. Now imagine a gigantic ice sheet in the Antarctic Circle. It takes far more sustained addition of kinetic energy and rise in sea temperature to melt and break an ice shelf off the continent.
Compared to other similar fascia in our body, the lumbar aponeurosis is akin to an Antarctic ice sheet that takes longer to effect changes after it hardens. The improvements need to accrue over time - days, weeks, or months - before relief accelerates and culminates in tremendous release. Therefore, we may not see or feel dramatic change for our lower back in the beginning when we start doing Essentrics. However, as long as we feel some stretch in that area when we do the movements, as long as we persist and practice regularly, the lower back will eventually loosen up. For some of us, when that happens, it can seem to occur overnight!