Low back pain is a prevalent problem in the United States and around the world. It is a condition that encompasses our lives when it happens and something we forget about all together when it is gone. And 80% of all adult Americans will experience low back pain at some point in their lifetime. Many of these low back pains are short-lived, lasting less than 6 weeks. But the impact the low back pain has on us is significant enough to impact our daily activities, our exercise regimens, and our ability to sleep. Interesting enough, that only 7% of Americans that seek medical intervention are given a referral to another professional who specializes in low back pain. That means that 93% of you who go to a doctor are not given a referral to a low back specialist, when most can help immediately if referred. Instead, they may be given prescribed medications, which are showing little effect and do more harm than good. Or you are told to rest all together, where research is showing that this is likely not the best way to manage it. We tell patients that “Motion is lotion” and “He who rests… Rots!” Make sense, right? In the fast paced world of today, downtime from work and exercise can be detrimental to our existence and to providing for the families we love.
You do NOT have to resign to living with pain and limitations. Therefore, we are offering this information to help you get started on the right track when you do experience your low back pain. With a few simple activities or modifications, you can shorten the length of time it takes to recover from your low back pain so you can continue to live a happy, healthy and productive life. Enjoy!!
- RECRUIT CORRECTLY AND PROGRESS GRADUALLY: Learn to activate your deep abdominals instead of the more superficial layers. You can do this while thinking about “drawing in” you belly button toward your spine, but remember to breathe normally. Most will hold their breath. Many men and women may need guidance with this or cues to perform correctly without engaging everything. Avoid crunches and “toes to bar” exercises that strain the area even more. Progress abdominal exercises gradually with static positions while maintaining the “drawing in” as described above.
- ELONGATE YOUR SPINE: Work on your posture and imaging your spine lengthening when you are sitting or standing. Poor posture affects your ability to recruit the correct muscles effectively and can cause changes the way you perform activities throughout the day. You will resort to bad positions so put a reminder on your phone every 30 minutes or simply place a post-it in an area you look at frequently (I put one near the computer monitor) to be mindful of your posture. Stay tall and upright to reduce strain to your low back.
- LIFT CORRECTLY: Whether it during your dead lifts, lifting a box from a floor, or picking up your child, make sure you activate the deeper abdominal muscles (with an exhale breath helps) during the straining activity. Practice doing this with lighter objects and build this strength into your gym program. If you are not doing a gym program, you still need to practice and be aware of your lifting mechanics at all times. As humans, we forget how to do things unless we train frequently… So go practice using your legs!!
- STAND FREQUENTLY: Reality is you are not made to sit all day… Sitting is considered the new smoking!! You should not sit longer than 30-60 minutes at any one time. At least every hour, stand up and walk around for 5 minutes. You may be thinking, “I’m loosing out on 5 minutes of productivity every hour.” How productive will you be when you cannot sit at all because your pain? Think about that!! So purposely make yourself move frequently throughout the day and avoid prolonged sitting.
You now have four easy tips to help you ease and reduce your risk of low back pain. As with anything, seeing a low back specialist for physical therapy for pain is a good way to start and the sooner you get in when the pain starts, the sooner you will be on the road to recovery. Although it may not be totally avoidable, it is definitely something that can be reduced in severity and duration.
By Christopher Ingstad, DPT, OCS, MTC, ATC, FAAOMPT
If you have questions or would like to speak to a low back specialist at Level4 Physical Therapy, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 769-503-4440.
HEALTH ADVICE DISCLAIMER
By reading this publication, you agree that following any advice herein is at you own risk and agree to hold harmless Level4 Physical Therapy & Performance, Inc., it’s owners and its employees. We are able to offer you this service at a standard charge. Significant injury risk is possible if you do not follow due diligence and seek suitable professional advice about your injury. No guarantees of specific results are expressly made or implied in this report.