Are you one of the four out of five people who have experienced low back pain at some point in your life? It is one of the most common reasons to visit a Doctor! Read on to learn more about the lumbar spine that has five of the largest vertebrae referred to as L1- L5. Along with the hip, it joins the upper body with the lower body allowing for proper function and coordinated movements like forward bending (flexion) and arching backwards (extension), rotation and side bending.
Low back pain symptoms may range from dull ache, to sharp and shooting, or to just downright annoying. There are a lot of factors to consider when evaluating the complicated and strong yet fragile low back. Here are some basic tips I offer my patients and students:
- Take frequent breaks when you are sitting for long periods of time. I recommend drinking a lot of water while you are working at your desk so you HAVE to get up to take a break to use the restroom. ☺ We are mammals and are meant to move!
- Research shows that regular exercise helps ease inflammation and muscle tension. Schedule time for exercise, even if it’s a 10-minute walk, some form of movement is better than nothing!
- Do you smoke? Consider quitting… smokers are more vulnerable to low back pain since smoking restricts nutrient rich blood flow to the spinal discs.
- Stay within 10 pounds of your ideal weight. Extra pounds especially around the mid-section shifts your center of gravity adding more strain at the low back.
- Proper lifting technique: bend your knees and squat, do not bend forward from the waist and do not twist your body while lifting. Use your legs and be robot-like!
Push heavy objects instead of pulling them.
- Balance the muscle players including the core, by properly strengthening them and lengthening them. See cobra tutorial video below for spinal extension exercises.
- Rest in a childs pose, with knees together, and breathe.
- Women: choose a purse wisely! Messenger bag style is great! Men: Do not sit on your wallet while it is in your back pocket!
- Be mindful and listen to your body. If you’ve been experiencing low back pain for a while and it is constant, please be one of those people to see your Doctor. Take care of it now!