Prevent Lower Back Pain Posture vs Exercise vs Stretching ... and 1 more
Edited by Jasmin, Alma, Eng
If you've never experienced lower back pain, count your blessings. It's estimated that up to 80% of people suffer from this problem at least once in their lifetime. At first, lower back pain may simply be uncomfortable and fatiguing. If allowed to continue unchecked, however, it can start impacting all areas of our lives in seriously negative ways. It could even lead to the point of debilitation. So, if you are lucky enough to pain-free, take care of your lower back by using the recommendations as a preventative measure. If you aren't one of the lucky ones, these suggestions may help to alleviate your current symptoms and even put a stop to future recurrence. First, you'll need to pinpoint the underlying cause of your pain. It could be a mixture of reasons but if you can identify your particular trigger, you can combat your pain with a far more targeted approach.
Method 1: Posture
- 1Any deviation from proper posture, such as having your head slightly forward, will place added strain on the lower back. When your head is directly on your neck and shoulders, the weight is evenly distributed and the lower back now has support from the shoulder blades and neck. Therefore, proper posture is essential to reducing and preventing lower back pain. Getting into the habit of keeping correct posture will take a bit of training and dedication, but the benefits are well worth it. In addition to easing lower back pain, proper posture can also contribute to better digestive health, improved breathing and circulation, and a reduction in headaches. Remembering these benefits may help you to stay on track while working to better your posture. Also, check out this YouTube video where Chiropractor Dr. David Warwick discusses the importance of posture.Your lower back is responsible for the weight of your entire upper body.Advertisement
- 2Use a wall to help you get started. Face away from the wall and move into a position where you're making contact with it, but not leaning. Your feet should be flat, shoulder width apart, and a few inches off the wall. Be aware of what body parts are touching the wall. If the middle of your back and your buttocks in touching, you are slouching. If your head is the only part making contact, you're actually leaning too far back. For ideal posture, three parts of your body should be touching the wall: your head, shoulder blades, and buttocks. If this is not the case, realign your body until they do. Be sure not to move your feet in the process. Keep this position for a few moments until you feel ready to try it on your own. Then step away from the wall and hold the position again, remembering how it feels without the support of the wall. When your body starts to slip back into its former posture, find a wall and start again.Standing:Advertisement
- 3Sit all the way back in your chair so that your hips are fully vertical and facing forward. Have your feet flat on the floor or a footrest and your knees at a 90-degree angle. Align your back with the back of the chair. Then straighten and square your shoulders, and always keep your head upright. If your chair doesn't provide it, you can use a small pillow or rolled up towel for lumbar support. Place it in the small of your back to support the natural curve of your spine. When typing at a computer, your arms should be in more of a flex position than directly straight out. If you're having a hard time not leaning forward, here's a way to practice. Place a cardigan or clothing item with sleeves on the back of the chair. Place your arms through the sleeves and see how difficult it is to lean. Hold the position for a few moments and remember how it feels.Sitting:
- 4You can use visualizations to help keep your posture in check throughout the day. These may be especially helpful if you can't find a wall to realign yourself with. Imagine a string is tied to the top of your head and is gently pulling your body upwards. Or, picture how you would need to walk if you were trying to balance a book on the top of your head. Always remember that proper posture is achieved when your ears, shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles are aligned.Using Visualizations:
Method 2: Exercise
- 1Those who suffer from lower back pain may be tempted to stay in a resting state but if done properly, exercising your back can provide relief. It will be important to find a physical activity that you enjoy, as it will give you an incentive to keep going. Once you start seeing improvement in your lower back pain, you'll wonder why you didn't get started sooner. Before you start on any course of action, check out this YouTube video that identifies the causes of back pain and provides targeted exercise techniques for them.Unless you're already an exercise buff, this may be the trickiest recommendation.Advertisement
- 2A huge advantage to exercising in water is that its buoyancy takes much of the stress off of joints. The breaststroke and backstroke may be the best to start with, as they require little to no body rotation, and the potential for hyperextension is low. Swimming and aquatic exercises help to strengthen back muscles in general.Swimming.
- 3Specific yoga poses are a great method for the gentle strengthening of both lower back and core muscles. Yoga also provides relaxation, which can help to ease tension in lower back muscles. It also promotes better posture and deeper breathing. Increasing oxygen flow is another great deterrent to inflammation. Try these five steps to get you started.Yoga.
- 4Partial crunches, press-ups, supported hamstring stretches, lumbar rotations and body squats are a good place to start. Don't exercise everyday, either. It's important to give your back time to relax and regenerate. Avoid exercises that overstretch lower back muscles, and put stress on disks and ligaments. These are things like toe touches, leg lifts, and full sit-ups.Focus on exercises that strengthen your back muscles and stomach.
Method 3: Stretching
- 1This will help ease the tension in tight abdominal and back muscles. Lie down on your stomach on a carpet or mat. Relax your leg muscles and allow your head to rest on the floor. Inhale deeply and slowly lift your head and torso off the floor while keeping your hips in place. Tilt your head up slightly and rest on your hands. Hold for one minute. Exhale and slowly lower yourself back down. Repeat 5 times.Cobra Stretch.
Method 4: Diet
- 1Especially if your diet is too acidic. In order to neutralize the effects of acid-forming foods, the body is forced to pull alkalizing minerals from bones. Luckily, there are several ways to cultivate a higher level of alkalinity through diet.It's possible that what you're putting into your body could be having adverse effects on the health of your back.
- 2Making fresh, organic fruits and vegetables the focus of your diet is the best step towards reducing and preventing lower back pain. They are highly alkalizing (the opposite of acidifying) and will, therefore, work to fight against inflammation. Buying organic, when possible, is important because pesticides also contribute to inflammation. Richly colored fruits and vegetables, like carrots, beets, pineapple, and berries, are particularly good options. Foods with the essential fat Omega 3, also help to reduce inflammation by increasing blood flow. Flaxseed, flaxseed oil, algae oil, chia seeds, walnuts, hemp seeds, and seaweed make great additions to your back-pain-free diet. The herb turmeric contains a component called curcumin, which is also highly anti-inflammatory.Anti-Inflammatory Foods.
- 3One of the most integral minerals for the structure and maintenance of bones. Though dairy products do contain calcium, they are also highly acidic so they won't be your best bet. Dark, leafy greens like kale, broccoli, and Bok Choy are key because they offer a high absorption rate. Sesame seeds, tahini, almonds, and oranges are also great sources.Calcium.
- 4People with lower back pain will often also experience tense, sore muscles. Magnesium is nature's muscle relaxer. Many of the recommendations for calcium-rich foods, like leafy greens and almonds, also contain high amounts of magnesium. Which makes covering your bases pretty darn easy. You can also give avocados, pumpkin seeds, and even dark chocolate (indulged in only sparingly) a try. You may also find relief from using the flowers and root from the Arnica plant as a topical treatment directly on your lower back.Natural Pain Relief.
- 5This includes things like chips, sugary drinks and snacks, fried foods, and white carbohydrates. Caffeine and alcohol should also be kept to a minimum. Green tea makes a great substitute for coffee, as it still gives you that caffeine fix while also fighting inflammation.Steer clear of processed and fast foods, red meats, and saturated fats as they promote inflammatory responses in the body.
- 6There are a wide range of supplement options available that can help target your specific problems related to back pain. You always want to speak with your doctor or health care professional first, though. Ask them to check your calcium, vitamin D, and magnesium levels to determine what you're lacking. Some doctors are now able to check your ALA levels, an Omega 3, so ask about that, too.Supplements.
There's a reason the word backbone, as in having or lacking one, is often used to describe the nature of one's character. It symbolizes strength and support, which is exactly what your back provides to your body. Don't let your lower back pain escalate to the point of needing lifetime medications or surgery. Take care of this vital support system so you can enjoy all of life's activities.