With everything in the world becoming more automated, getting easier to do and requiring us to do less, it really is no wonder why 70% of all adults in the United States have chronic and acute back pain. Lack of proper conditioning to perform everyday tasks can aid in the cause of back strain and the debilitating pain that frequently follows. Because of this, more and more people are making a sedentary lifestyle part of their norm. This lends support to the idea that decreased activity may contribute to muscular dysfunction, and ultimately injury. The less conditioned our musculoskeletal systems are, the higher the risk of injury. Researchers concluded that the musculoskeletal system can be very easily over trained when it is dysfunctional, leading to a 50% – 90% injury rate amongst sedentary adults. Dysfunctional in this case is defined as a state in which a person may have muscle imbalances, decreased flexibility, or a lack of core and joint stability. If you fall into any of these categories, whether from an accident, sitting in a office building all day, or your past lifestyle choices (or lack there of), there is hope for you.
Many training programs used to condition the musculoskeletal system often neglect proper training guidelines. These include training essential areas of the body, such as the stabilizing muscles of the hips, upper and lower back, and neck, and using a proper progression of acute variables. If you are thinking about starting any new workout program, it’s always best to talk with your Doctor first. Don’t be scared of some mild pain during your recovery program, but if you do experience any numbness or unexplained weakness, stop immediately and go to your Physical Therapist or Doctor.
- Build a Stronger Core Through Flexibility Training
The Cat/Camel Move: With your knees and hands on the floor, start in a neutral position, head facing down and spine relaxed. Slowly arch your lower back while lifting your head up and back. Then, slowly try to reverse the arch in your lower back by bringing your hips toward your shoulders, tucking your chin to your chest at the same time.
The Quadruped Arm/Leg Raise Move: With your knees and hands on the floor, start in a neutral position, head facing down and spine relaxed. Raise and straighten your right leg directly behind your hip; at the same time, raise and straighten your left arm directly in front of your shoulder. Your upper arm should be touching your ear and hips must remain level. Hold for 10 – 15 seconds and then perform the exercise with the opposite arm and leg up.
The Prone Isometric Ab Move: Lie face down with your legs straight and elbows bent, resting your upper body on your forearms. Begin in a neutral position with head facing down and spine relaxed. Brace or contract your abdomen while raising your body off the floor using forearms and toes. Drop your heels back below your toes and “lock” yourself into place. It is important to keep your body in a straight line. Do not arch your lower back or let your pelvis sink toward the floor. Hold this position for 5 to 20 seconds keeping abs tight.
The Bird Dog Move: To perform this exercise, position yourself on your hands and knees, your hips in line with your knees and your shoulders in line with your hands. Keep your knees hip-width apart. This is the starting position. Keep your upper body parallel to the floor and, using your abdominal muscles to maintain your balance, slowly raise your left arm until it’s also parallel to the floor. At the same time that you’re raising your left arm, extend your right leg behind you until it too is parallel to the floor and pointing straight back. Hold this position for 30 to 60 seconds before returning to the starting position and switching limbs. Repeat this exercise three to five times.
The Back Bridge Move –To perform the back bridge, lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Keep your feet and knees shoulder-width apart and place your arms alongside your body. To begin the exercise, contract your abdominal muscles and buttocks; slowly raise your hips off the floor until you are in the bridge position. Hold the bridge position for one second, then lower your hips back to the resting position. Perform 20 repetitions of this exercise, two to three times per day.
Doing flexibility training and stretching everyday can really alleviate a lot of your back pain. Staying consistent can improve muscular endurance, enhance joint stability, increase flexibility and enhance control of posture. Resting can cause certain types of back pain to worsen and decrease muscle strength, according to the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Taking up yoga is one way to help improve back pain in three ways: unwinding myofascial tightness and imbalances, increasing body awareness, and improving breathing involving fluid movement of the diaphragm. Aquatic therapy can be beneficial for patients with back pain too. Exercises done in warm, therapeutic pools help reduce strain on the joints to encourage gentle stretching and strengthening of muscles or floating to relax the muscles and release tension. Whirlpool baths work on the same principle: The heat encourages muscle relaxation and the movement of the water increases circulation. There are a few supplements that patients with back pain can take: glucosamine (500 mg, three times a day), flax seed oil (two teaspoons per day), calcium and magnesium (see the indications on the bottle), zinc (50 mg a day), and vitamin C (2,000 mg a day).
Whatever you do, don’t succumb to your back pain. Do something about it! Get up and get active… you’ll thank yourself in the long run. Leave me comments or questions below 🙂