Many of us have experienced it – that nagging, achy feeling in our lower back that reminds us we may have overdone it. In fact, back pain is one of the most common reasons people consult with their physicians.
There are a variety of reasons why patients consult with their doctors for treatment of back pain. For some, the pain may have been triggered by sports or recreational activities.
Spine surgeon Dr. Victor Hayes commented, “patients may be suffering from pain which is caused by a degenerative disease, acute accident, or sports injury. Whatever the cause, there are steps you can take to help alleviate the pain, and maybe avoid lower back pain altogether.”
Poor Posture When Sitting
One of the worst things you can do to your back is to sit in a hunched over or slouching position, especially for extended periods of time. This causes an even heavier load for the discs in your back to handle.
Unfortunately, many people have jobs which require them to sit at a desk for long periods of time. If you do have to sit for an extended length of time, it is important to get up and walk around periodically throughout the day.
One of the best things you can do for your back – as well as all the other muscles in your body – is to stretch. The cause of a lot of people’s back issues can be traced to tight muscles. This tightening puts extra stress on not just our spine, but also on our joints, which triggers back pain. Doing stretches at least once a day can help relieve the tightening of all those muscles.
It is important to note, however, that you do not want to overstretch. Never force your body to get into a position that causes discomfort. Also, make sure to perform stretches slowly. Incorrect stretching can actually cause those muscles to tear.
Building up Core Muscle Strength
Like Atlas holding up the entire world, the back supports all of the upper body. This puts a lot of stress and strain on our spine. One of the best ways to help alleviate that stress is to make sure that the muscles that surround the spine – referred to as core muscles – are strong and toned.
Day to day activities offer little use of those core muscles, so special exercises are required to strengthen them. The majority of these exercises are simple and easy. Your doctor can offer advice on which core muscle exercises are right for you.
Walking and Weight
Walking is one of the best exercises you can do to help alleviate lower back pain. Not only does it help tone muscles, but the aerobic aspect of this activity also aids in burning calories and can help maintain a healthy weight.
Carrying excess weight is another trigger for back pain. The spine may become tilted or any stress spread unevenly as the body tries to compensate for that weight. Excess weight can even cause curvature of the spine.
One of the easiest ways to injure your lower back is to lift an object the wrong way. Even an item that doesn’t weigh much can cause an injury if it’s lifted incorrectly.
Twisting the wrong way can cause painful muscle spasms. If you are lifting a heavy object, always remember to bend down with your hips and knees in a squatting position and lift the item from there. Never bend forward to pick the item up.
In addition to all the dangers listed on the sides of cigarette packs regarding the dangers of smoking, it can also contribute to back pain. Smoking constricts the flow of blood to all parts of the body, including the blood that flows to the discs in our back.
These discs act as a cushion around the spine, but without proper nourishment from blood, the discs can degenerate. Smoking also hinders calcium absorption, which can lead to an increased risk of fractures caused by low bone density.