Back pain is a preventable injury that is one of the most common occurrences every year. Driven by societal changes and lifestyle adaptations the average person now spends the majority of the day in the seated position. Between working 40+ hours behind a desk, driving, watching television, playing video games, or using the computer we don’t offer our bodies much opportunity to function the way it was intended to. The human body is most successful when working in balance. If more time is spent in certain positions while others are neglected, muscles and joints become stiff or weak adding an imbalance to the overall body system.
At the onset of pain, what can be difficult to grasp is that the back may actually be the victim in the scenario. Instead of focusing on the particular location of pain, a deeper focus should be on what could be the potential cause(s) of the imbalance.
Lack of flexibility is one of the biggest culprits involved in low back pain. Having tight hip flexors (front of your hips) or tight hamstrings (back of legs) can pull the pelvis out of its naturally neutral position. This misalignment reduces the ability for all muscles and joints to provide the proper shock absorption that is needed for injury prevention. Over time it can lead to chronic low back pain or a serious episode where the back “gives out.”
Core strength is just as important in reducing pain as gaining flexibility. In most cases, if there is a problem with one, there is a problem with both. The days of endless crunches/sit-ups are over and the style of training has changed greatly over the years. The main focus of a preventive or rehabilitative program should now include integrated training that enables our bodies to move soundly in the three dimensional, tri-planar world we live in; where we must resist against forces from all directions to maintain stability. For example, training the “vertical core” while standing up adds ground reaction forces, gravity, and the ability to withstand similar scenarios to what we face on a daily basis.
Tips to Reduce Back Pain From Your Everyday Life
Reducing Sedentary Activities
Limit your television, video games, computer and driving time by alternating it with physical activity or a new hobby. You may be surprised that movement can help to reduce pain. If you are currently experiencing back pain, always speak with your physician before beginning a new routine.
Ladies: Avoid High Heels!
Heels force the lower body into (constant extreme dorsiflexion) a position that puts unnecessary stress on the knees and low back. If you must wear them, choose from the lower end of your collection.
Focus on your posture.
Paying special attention to your body at certain times of the day can play a big role in the pain you feel later. For example, when seated are you able to sit comfortably with your back against the chair and feet flat on the floor? Or do you find yourself falling forward into a slouching position due to a lack of support?
Proper Lifting Technique
When lifting objects that are 30lbs or heavier, run through this checklist:
- Feet are shoulder-width apart or wider
- Knees are bent
- Keep the object close to the body
- Lift through the heels
- Most importantly, if too heavy, ask for help!
When utilized regularly these easy adaptations can provide relief to chronic low back pain. However, if you ever experience severe pain or something unusual, always consult with your physician immediately.