It’s estimated that over 80% of the Canadian population will experience at least one episode of back pain in their lifetime. Are you one of those 80%? If not, count yourself lucky because clearly the odds are stacked against you! However, if you have been proactive with proper ergonomics while sitting, standing and sleeping and working on strengthening your core muscles, then keep on doing what you’re doing!
For the rest of us who haven’t been so fortunate, now is the time to get started on avoiding future occurrences of low back pain. I’ve encountered many patients who don’t begin to smartly address their back issues until the second, third or even fourth bad back pain episode. There are a lot of simple things you can do to reduce your risk for low back pain and a trip to your local Richmond Hill chiropractor! Here are a number of tips to keep in mind:
- Avoid leaning forward from your hips and lock your knees while doing standing activities like washing dishes, brushing your teeth, ironing, etc.
- Avoid twisting your trunk while bending and lifting. For example, we often bend-twist-lift with unloading laundry, picking up children, hauling suitcases, shovelling snow, gardening…sound familiar? As much as possible, turn your whole body around so that you face whatever you need to lift directly. And avoid lifting with your back muscles.
- When lifting big and heavy objects, lift with your hips and legs, not your back. Instead, make sure you keep your back straight, bend at the knees and keep the heavy object close to your body.
- Perform an abdominal brace whenever you lift. This is where you tighten your ab muscles…imagine someone is about to punch you in the stomach. Reflexively, you would contract your abs and bear down for the impact. Do the same thing while lifting because it will stabilize your spine and protect it from injury.
- Avoid carrying suitcases or heavy shoulder bags which stress one side of the back. Invest in some good rolling suitcases and backpacks. They’re great back savers. Who ever finally thought to put those rotating roller blade wheels on the bottom of suitcases should be awarded a Nobel prize!!!
- When travelling on a plane, train or bus, use a small pillow or rolled up towel and place it behind your low back to help support the normal curve of your spine. You can use the rolled towel also in the car or office…you don’t have to buy a special Obusforme back support to achieve the similar result.
- Don’t stay sitting or standing in the same position for long periods. You need to take short, frequent breaks to get the circulation going and the muscles moving.
- Consult a chiropractor, physiotherapist, massage therapist or qualified trainer to determine the best core stability exercises for you. This will involve strengthening weak muscles and stretching tight, inhibited ones. And contrary to popular belief, situps are NOT good for your back! Try planks and side bridges instead.
- Get off the couch or get away from the computer! Try to exercise 30 minutes a day. Do something you enjoy and become more active!
As always, Prevention is the best medicine!
Helping you prevent low back pain…Dr. Keith