But what can we do to help prevent back pain? What good habits can we abide by to help reduce the risk of injury to our spine? Here are a few tips for better spinal health with sitting, lifting and exercise.
When we sit we flatten the curve of our lower back (known as our lumbar lordosis) which adds stress to the joints, muscles and tissues of the spine. Unfortunately, some people have jobs where they are required to sit for extended periods of time. So how can we minimise the stress that sitting creates on our spines?
How many times have you bent forward to lift something up whether light or heavy and felt a sudden pain in your lower back? Improper lifting can cause a wide variety of problems from muscle strain and vertebral dysfunction to the more serious acute disc herniations.
Proper lifting is essential to minimize the risk of injury, or reinjury. As we discussed with sitting, we need to attempt to maintain our lumbar curve when lifting to minimise the stress added to our spine and tissues. Therefore we need to keep our back as straight and upright as possible when we are lifting something, and not bend forward. Bending forward and putting your body in a position of spinal flexion while load bearing will increase the pressure to the discs and increase the risk of injury.
Steps to proper lifting:
Did you know that the spine is most vunerable to injury first thing in the morning? It is good to keep this in mind for those that go to the gym or work out straight after getting out of bed. Heavy lifting is therefore best avoided first thing in the morning.
Exercise can not only help to improve our muscle tone and flexibility, and overall fitness, but it’s also very beneficial for people who suffer from chronic lower back pain. Movement in our joints activates small receptors that lead to the inhibition of pain. So keep moving!
A good exercise program to reduce risk of injury and help to prevent lower back pain will include strengthening of the abdominal muscles and stretching of our back muscles.
by Dr Emma Wilkinson
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