What Can I Do to Keep My Low Back Strong?
The Importance of a Healthy Back Cannot be overstated
Our Back is One of the Most Important Components Of Our Body
My sister recently texted me: "ohhh my back". What Happened ?, I asked.This was so unlike my sister. She is such a trooper. Always doing something: cleaning her place, mowing the lawn, running after the kids....She must really have done something.
"I was mopping the floors and then i lifted the mop bucket in the wrong position"
This was just yesterday (July 9, 2013)- in Toronto there was torrential downpour and many places including the railways and subway's got flooded. My sister's condo was one of them. Now she was on her hands and knees cleaning everything up.
You see in situations like this ie a major flood or natural disaster, you spring into action. You don't think about your back, your legs, your "this" or your "that". You get stuff cleaned up and move on. Having a healthy back allows you to do that with no problems.
What would we do without our backs? Forget about heavy lifting, working out, helping a friend or relative move, but how about simply stuff like vacuuming, sitting at your son's game, taking a walk, even driving a certain distance in the car.
We often take our back and our spine for granted. You shouldn't however; you only get one, and you can't always get it repaired so easy.
Update March 17, 2014
Speaking of our lower backs, I recently heard of two instances of lower back pain that required trips to the Hospital.
A colleague of ours- a fellow Chiropractor- lifted a wine fridge from his basement and re-aggravated his low back. He had to be taken to the emergency room because he was having severe leg pain and lower back pain and could not even stand.He finally went the ER where they gave him pain medications. He ended up doing non surgical spinal decompression and this helped his pain.
Finally, a high school friend of me emailed me because her husband had to have emergency surgery because of Cauda Equina Syndrome- this is severe lower back pain that needs surgical intervention. He works as a mortgage broker and was sitting for 10 hours at a time.He had been suffering with pain in the leg and back for months. When she told me he had to have surgery I was shocked, because this syndrome doesn't allow your bowels and bladder to work properly and can lead to paralysis if you don't have surgical intervention. This was by far the most severe case of lower back pain that I had heard of EVER.In school you hear about Cauda Equina Syndrome- but now i actually personally new of someone who had experienced this.
How Healthy is Your Back?
Do You Feel that You Have a Strong Back?
Common Low Back Conditions
Some typical low back conditions I see are:
- lower back sprains or strains- These can be more muscular in nature but also can involve the spine or ligamentous attachments.
- muscle spasm of the low back. Like we mentioned, muscles attach to the bones (ligaments connect muscle to bone, tendons attach muscle to muscle); if we have a spasm you bet we are going to have a spine that's pulled out of alignment. We also will have inflammation in the area; all lending to more nerve pressure. Then we have more pain and spasm!
- Disc injury. This could be a herniated or bulged disc. This may reduce the normal room a nerve or nerves have to travel depending where that disc has migrated to and also the fact that there is now less space between your spinal bones...
- Think of a flat tire, that tire goes flat and bulges or protrudes outward. That flattening leaves less space between two vertebrae, therefore reducing the space where the nerves come off the spinal cord. The bulged disc or herniated disc then can close up that area even more. Add inflammation into the equation and you have no room form the nerve and maybe more constant pressure.
- Fracture. I mention this one last because it's not as common and will usually take a traumatic injury to cause. Also, you sometimes can do much because you simply have to let it heal.
Common Causes of Pain In Your Low Back
Standing For Long Periods of Time
driving for a long time
Slouching or Hunch Back Posture
A Car Accident
A Work Injury
Essential Low Back Stretches
Before stretching it's important to keep in mind that all you need to do is feel the stretch, don't stretch until it hurts.
This is another common cause of low back pain:Exercising in the wrong way, stretching too much, or using too much weight.
Keep in mind that everything in the body connects. Your low back connects to the buttocks, butt to hamstrings, hamstrings to calf, etc..
That being said, here are two fantastic- very effective lower back stretches that anyone can do.
1. Knee-to-Chest - Lie on you back pulling your knee to the chest. Next do both legs. Then do other side. *If you are a knee pain sufferer, grab and hold from behind the knee.
2. Seated flex forward - While sitting lean forward; if it's comfortable reach to the floor crawling your fingers out.
For each stretch hold for 20 seconds and then repeat. One of the other great things about these stretches is that you can do them at any time as many times as you feel necessary.
Keep Your Back Healthy and Strong - Don't Let Back Pain Get You Down
Muscles connect to the bones, and inflamed muscles out pressure on nerves. Muscle massage helps to loosen taut muscle fiber, help inflammation to dissipate, and allow better spinal motion.
Alternately, you can also see a trained massage therapist to help you.
There are also numerous back massage tools and supports you can use on yourself.
Finally, there are also topicals, such as natural creams or gels that can help relax the muscles. For example, biofreeze or sombra. These are two common creams I use on my patients.
Habits of People with No Lower Back Pain
What do you do to maintain your spine?
Lower Back Relief with Easy Products
- Products for a healthy back
Back pain affects so many things that we do in our life. Keep the proper posture in your low back with proper supports, pillows and belts.
How a Simple Low Back Support Keeps Good Posture and Protects you from Injuring Yourself
Keep Your Spine Aligned Correctly by Seeing a Chiropractor
The job of a chiropractor is to keep your spine correctly aligned,and to help you with your posture.
Keeping your spine aligned is important for your central nervous system and your overall health. Its also important to the health of your back- especially the low back. If you have a misalignment from poor posture, or an injury, a chiropractic adjustment can help you get back on track.
In Your Workout, Include Strengthening Your Lower Back
What Should I Do As Part Of A Daily Routine?
I think on top of eating right, drinking a good amount of water, and not abusing your back; do a daily ritual of stretching. I know I've shown some good examples of this for back pain stretches and pre-work-out ones; but not all of feel like we have the time to go to the gym, etc.
So here goes. When you are showered or have at least gotten a chance to wake up and move a bit - do some trunk twisters, bend and touch your toes a couple times (hold for 12-20 seconds). You may have to bend and stretch, and do again a couple times before reaching to toes...
Next, sit on the floor and reach out to one foot; same thing - hold for a bit and repeat. Next, bring the bottom of your feet together and push your knees toward the floor with your elboes; do this a couple times as well. Lastly, stretch your quadriceps by pulling your foot towards your buttocks. It's the same with all of them; do 2 or 3 reps, holding 12-20 seconds.
5 Minutes and You're Done...
Avoid Things That Really Stress The Back...
How could I not mention this one. It seems blatantly obvious but sometimes not so much. Let me give you an example. We have a leg press machine at the gym that fits into my leg routine well. The only problem is that I've narrowed it down to that being the cause of back pain. It doesn't have much cushioning and that combined with stress getting put on the wrong spots in my back..You get it!
So now I just do other exercises and avoid the leg press machine and I am pain free! It took me a couple times at our gym to figure out that this was the culprit. But not a big price to pay for a lifetime of a healthy back.
Someone else I know would get back a shin pain after running. We figured out he was always running on the road (very hard surface), and that was contributing to the pain. He has a big yard and the high school track is nearby to (it's more of a rubbery surface - softer than the pavement). Now he mixes it up, only running a little on hard surfaces and the back and shin pain has been almost non-existent.
So when it comes to our bodies or anything else really, it's sometimes the obvious that we miss...