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The Danger Of “Small Of The Back” Carry

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By Linda M. Gilbertson

I have been under Chiropractic care since I was 22 years old.  I was a uniformed police officer.  It was either my exercise routine or the utility belt I wore when on duty or the general stress of the job that caused a pinched nerve in my lower back.  It effected my ability to walk or run and subsequently the performance of my job.  40 years later, I continue to have reoccurring issues.  So, when I see the concealed carry industry popularize the “Small of the Back” carry method and make it fashionable, it makes me wonder what danger might appear in the future for those who carry in this fashion.

Small of the Back.

Hollywood has made “Small of the Back” carry sexy.  The movies and TV series display pistols of all sizes drawn from the small of the back.  It doesn’t matter whether you’re male or female, small or large, or whether the pistol is concealed or not.  It may not be your primary method of carry, but it may be your back-up method.  Beverly Hills Cop with Eddie Murphy was an excellent example of the small of the back carry for his primary method.  Even on some current TV series, the pistol magically appears from the area of the back.  Per Hollywood, the small of the back may be one of the coolest places to carry.  It’s also a great place to put your pistol when no other place is provided.  This type of carry fills that void which exists in the curve of the lower back.

Hollywood Sexy.
“Fills the void.”

This sexiness has found its way into the conceal carry industry. Fashion is used to sell on-body carry methods which place the holsters in the small of the back.  With a void at this location it’s a perfect fit.  The Concealment Shorts for men and women and the Woman’s Corset are designed specifically with holsters, which are positioned just to the sides of the spine with the pistol grip over the spine dependent upon the pistol direction in the holster.  I’ve also seen a Belly Band designed with a pistol holster over the spine.  The positioning initially may not create a discomfort, but continued pressure applied by sitting against the pistol, or by falling onto or being kicked in this region may cause subluxations which may irritate or damage the area on or near the spine.

Woman’s Corset.
Concealment Shorts.
Belly Band.

A Spinal Subluxation is a misalignment of the vertebrae of the spine.  A subluxation can occur from a simple fall or carrying heavy backpacks, wearing poorly fashioned shoes, changing a tire, martial arts, any competitive sport or any simple movement whereby twisting or turning is involved or constant pressure is applied.  If the misalignment if not corrected, compression of nerve roots will occur.  The nervous system controls and coordinates all organs and structures of the human body.  Many nerves come from the spinal cord, pass through holes formed by notches in the vertebrae and supply specific areas and parts of the body.  If these nerves are pinched by subluxation, those areas or parts of the body effected by those nerves may malfunction and symptoms of illness may occur.

On the following chart, the area between 1L and 5L (L = Lumbar Spine) control your lower extremities.  This is the area of the small of the back.  You’ll also see 1T through 12T is the Thoracic Spine, or the mid-back.  The Cervical Spine (Neck Region) is noted from 1C to 7C. To the right of these vertebrae, you’ll see the areas and parts of the body effected and the possible symptoms/illnesses that may result.  As an example, the area between 1L and 5L controls the Iliocecal valve, large intestines, Appendix, abdomen, upper leg, Sex organs, Uterus, Bladder, knees, Prostate gland, lower back, Sciatic nerve, lower legs, ankles and feet.  If the nerves supplying these areas are pinched you’ll experience issues with your Sex organs, Uterus, Bladder, Prostate glands, low back pain, aches and soreness, trouble walking, leg, knee, ankle and foot soreness and pain, Sciatica, pain or soreness in the hip and buttocks.

Vertebral Subluxation and Nerve Chart” 1991 Parker Chiropractic Resource Foundation.

I conferred with a medical professional on the topic of small of the back carry.  Dr. W. Keith Horne, D.C. is a Chiropractic Physician and a Palmer Graduate.  Dr. Horne has been practicing for 32 years.  He was unaware of any research about pressure on the small of the back due to the carrying of a pistol in that location.  However, studies have been conducted on the effects of children’s heavy backpacks on their skeletal system.  He indicated that there’s a correlation between balance changes, pressure applied at certain points and the body’s reaction to the pressure.  It’s my opinion this could also apply to police officers, firefighters, construction workers or any profession where equipment is worn on the body.  As an example, between 4L and 3L in Photo #8, you’ll see a bulging disc.  Pressure was applied in this area either because of one traumatic incident or a continued application of pressure over time.  The disc may heal if the subluxation that created the bulge is addressed.   Returning the spine to its normal alignment may reduce the pressure exerted on that disc and subsequently the pinched nerves supplying the body.  If it doesn’t heal naturally, a surgical procedure may be necessary.

Concealment Shorts on Skeletal Spine.
Bulging Disc.

A bulged disc in the small of the back is physical evidence that a problem exists.  Many times, the evidence does not readily appear.  Constant pressure of a holster in the small of the back may eventually push the skeletal structure, compress nerves, and create discomfort.  Your discomfort may be passed off as a “breaking in period” like a new pair of shoes.  Perhaps the new holster on the concealed carry clothing needs to be softened to conform to your body.  You know it’s a little uncomfortable at first, but you decide to ignore it.  Over time some discernible physical evidence may appear and if you choose to ignore it, further difficulties may manifest.

I am not a medical professional, but based upon my many years of treatments I am acutely aware of my body and when I need to visit Dr. Horne for an adjustment.  I know that when I’m out of alignment, I experience symptoms of lower back discomfort, which includes a change in the length of my right leg which effects how I walk, whether I can sit comfortably, and my sleep pattern.  Muscles along my spine are affected by the change in the vertebrae’s position, resulting in muscle weakness.  A subluxation in the lower back can create a ripple effect upward toward the skull.  It can affect my digestion, my breathing and sometimes a headache.  If left untreated my mobility is effected, my health is compromised, and no amount of chocolate will treat my headache or my irritability.

My attempt in this article is not to dissuade you from wearing this form of concealed carry, but it’s to make you aware of possible long-term issues which may be created by carrying concealed in the small of the back. If you choose to carry a pistol in this way, realize that pressure applied against the Lumbar Spine may create irritation which over duration if not identified and dealt with, may be dangerous to your health.

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