Understanding and Preventing Your Low Back Pain
About 80% of Americans suffer debilitating low back pain at some point in their life. This fact is staggering, yet it doesn’t have to be this common. The key to staying out of this group of low back pain sufferers comes down to one word: Prevention. If I had to choose one common problem amongst all low back pain sufferers, it would be bad low back position during common activities such as brushing your teeth, bending over, picking up a small child, exercising and sitting.
The lumbar spine, which is the lower part of the spine, is meant to have a natural curve to it that displaces the forces of gravity, weight, etc. evenly and minimally. When this natural curve is straightened, or reduced, the forces on the discs, muscles, and ligaments of the low back are significantly increased. For example, sitting without maintaining the natural curve increases the forces on those structures by 30%-40%!
There are many conditions that can be covered under the umbrella of low back pain, but in this article, we will cover the following conditions for the sake of this informational handout. The keys of prevention of low back pain are as follows:
- Understand your symptoms and risk factors
- Body Preparation and Positioning
- Proper Activities of Daily Living
- Corrective Exercises
- Treatment Considerations
Common Low Back Conditions
Lumbar strains and sprains
A lumbar strain is when an injury occurs to the muscles of the low back. A sprain, on the other hand, is an injury to the ligaments or joints; both, however, have similar pain and symptom patterns. When these muscles or ligaments become injured, it can lead to dysfunctional movements, and cause instability in the spine. Patients suffering from this diagnosis often have pain when attempting to walk, sit, exercise and can even occur during sleep.
The main physical causes of this condition are:
- Poor movement mechanics
- Poor posture
- Heavy lifting
However, with proper education, you can protect yourself from many of these causes. The primary sufferers of this condition, especially chronic cases, often are in poor physical condition with weak stabilizing muscles. A comorbid factor of this condition is often a desk job that involves sitting for most of the day. This type of patient usually has poor sitting posture, which can lead to a weakening of your spinal erectors and destabilize the spine, contributing to the condition. The importance of a strong core and training your spinal muscles cannot be overstated.
In cases where the injury stems from a problem related to overuse, poor posture or improper exercise, there are steps that can be taken to help avoid these injuries from happening. Proper instruction about your postural habits can reduce the detrimental effects of sitting on the spine, as well as education about correct lifting form can reduce these episodes of low back pain and help you build a healthy spine.
If you are having back pain or want some guidance on how to prevent back pain please call the office. We will be happy to help!