As far as aches and pains go, lower back pain is one of the most common complaints. While the ACA has evolved a lot over the past year, a lot of those suffering with back pain have failed to seek out the proper treatment. Luckily, a few simple habits can stop the discomfort before it starts. Get your own back, by adopting these back-saving tips.
Spending some time getting grounded can work wonders for your spine. A lot of lower back pain actually stems from tightness in the hips, a phenomenon made only more common by the amount of time we spend in chairs. Taking a seat on the floor helps open up your hips while encouraging you to use the muscles in the core that help support the spine. Next time you’re watching TV or reading a book, skip the chair and pull up a spot on the floor. If you use a laptop, you can even do this at the office – people may look at you strangely, but when they see how pain-free and mobile you are, they might just join you. Lean up against a wall if you find you need a little support (or just can’t stop the slouch), and use a cushion to get comfy if you need some support for your hips and knees.
Since tight hips are often the culprit of low back pain, working a few simple, hip-opening squats into your day can prevent discomfort and work to increase and maintain mobility. Take your feet a little wider than your hips, turn them out slightly, and sink your hips down as low as you can manage. Do this 3-5 times a day for thirty seconds to a minute, and you’ll notice a difference in no time. Not sure when you can grab a minute to squat? Try adding it to your morning routine, or using one to open up after a long commute or carried. If you work a desk job, you can even squeeze one in as a quick break between tasks – after all, getting up from your chair regularly is important for you health. Note: tight pants not recommended.
Use your body better, and you’ll avoid straining the muscles of your spine. The body is a beautifully orchestrated machine – if you use it right, all the parts work together to complete tasks in efficient, supported ways. When lifting heavy loads (even those as seemingly innocuous as grocery bags), use the big muscles of your legs to support your back. Bend your knees, grab hold of whatever you’re lifting, keep your back straight and stand. Even if you’re just picking up a dropped pen or penny, never bend from the waist; bend your knees to pick it up instead. When carrying larger loads, it’s also important to find balance by weighting yourself evening – so pick up a bag in each hand, and never wear a backpack on just one shoulder.
Down to the Core of It
Strengthening your “core,” the intertwined muscles that support the center of the body, is key to preventing lumbar spine pain. These powerful muscles support the spine, and help improve posture and foster healthy movement. A couple crunches aren’t going to do the trick, however. To really support the spine, it’s time to leave traditional “six-pack” abdominal workouts behind. Take a more integrated approach, like the kind found in Pilates and yoga core work.