With lower back pain leading the way in musculoskeletal issues, it is pretty clear that as a whole, we need to get a handle on this situation. The best way to help with low back pain is to avoid having it in the first place. Check out these 7 tips to help prevent lower back pain.
7 Tips to help prevent low back pain:
1. Strengthen Your Core
Most people think of the core as the 6 pack muscles. The core is actually a lot more involved than that, however, and encompasses everything from your shoulder girdle to your hips and all of the “stuff” in between. Even your diaphragm, the muscle responsible for your breathing, is a part of your core
How your core functions
The function of the core is also commonly misrepresented. The core, while it does bend and move the spine, has a more important function: stabilization. Consider picking up a box and carrying it. How can you maintain an upright position? Your core does it for you. How about carrying in grocery bags in one hand? What keeps you from toppling over to the side that you are holding the bags on? Your core.
Our core is designed to stabilize and support our spine as we do our activities of daily living, keeping your back safe.
Check out these Core Exercises that won't break your back
2. Maintain Hip Mobility
When it comes to lower back health, hips are one of the most important components.
Your hips are the second most freely movable joint in the body. They play a huge role in forward and backward bending, rotation, and lifting objects from the ground.
A lot of our daily activities can cause us to lose hip mobility. Sitting, for example, for a majority of your day can create imbalances and shortness of the muscles surrounding your hips, leading to decreased mobility
3. Lift With Your Hips - NOT YOUR BACK
We already talked about how important hip mobility. This is because we need to use our hips every time we lift. Imagine wanting to bend over to pick up a box but your hips don’t move well. You can still pick up the box, but how?
Don't let your low Back Do all the work
Your lower back and knees are now having to do extra work. Repetitively lifting objects with your back and knees can lead to issues down the road. More often than not, the injuries we see in our office to the lower back aren’t from lifting something heavy, they are from lifting something wrong
4. Maintain your spinal mobility
Your spine is composed of multiple joints that all work together to create what we know as movement. Keeping this movement is exceptionally important for two reasons.
Our joints are designed to move. When they become restricted, your body has to compensate to maintain your normal range of motion.
Consider taking a few links of metal chain and making a circle. When all links are freely movable, the circle is easy to make and it looks nice and round. Now weld two links together. You can still make a circle, but the other links of the chain are forced to move more to make up for the welded segment.
The Spine is the Chain that Connects the body
The spine works in a similar fashion. If a spinal segment lacks the motion needed, your body will compensate and find that movement from another area of the spine. When we screen patients spinal extension, we commonly see people with very limited mid back mobility (from sitting hunched over a keyboard most likely) and with increased lower back mobility to make up the total extension movement. Quite often, this reliance on one area to make up your overall movement will lead to pain and ultimately, degeneration.
When our joints move, the capsules that surround them stretch, sending signals to the brain so that it can appropriately coordinate your overall movement. Restricted joints deny the brain this information, resulting in poor body mapping and decreased kinesthetic sense.
5. Get stronger
No one has ever complained about being “too strong”. As it comes to your musculoskeletal health, in particular lower back health, being stronger is a great option to save the lower back.
Being stronger will allow your body to perform whatever task you are performing typically with greater ease. Consider lifting a box. If the box is heavy, having stronger leg, hip, and back muscles will allow you to pick it off the ground with less struggle, putting less strain on your soft tissues (muscles, tendons, ligaments) and joints. Does that mean you need to become the next Mr. or Mrs. Olympia? Absolutely not.
It just means that exercising is a great way to prime your body for the tasks of every day life. Focus on compound movements that work multiple joints and muscles at one time for the best benefit. Weights are not always required as bodyweight exercises can be effective as well.
5. Use it or lose it
Make your body move. Movement is crucial to overall health and well being, not just for avoiding lower back pain. Our bodies are designed to change and adapt to the tasks we perform every day. Unfortunately for many of us, that means sitting at work. Do your lower back and overall health a favor and get some movement in throughout your day.