For most of us, Spring means gardening, spring cleaning, cleaning out the garage, and of course, a push to exercise so we can fit into our swim suit in the summer. All of these activities require bending and lifting which means there is a potential for back pain. Stretching and exercises designed to strengthen lower back and abdominal muscles can prevent the onset of back pain. Try working these simple exercises into your daily routine. Regular low-impact exercises for just 30 minutes a day can increase muscle strength and flexibility for patients with lower back pain. Our physical therapists at any one of our 17 locations can provide a list of low-impact age appropriate exercises. We have provided a series of back exercise videos on our website demonstrating the exercises that are routinely performed under the direction of a physical therapist. Just click here to view the videos.
• Always stretch before exercise or other strenuous physical activity.
• Don’t slouch when standing or sitting. When standing, keep your weight balanced on your feet. Your back supports weight most easily when curvature is reduced.
• At home or work, make sure your work surface is at a comfortable height for you.
• Sit in a chair with good lumbar support and proper position and height for the task. Keep your shoulders back. Switch sitting positions often and periodically walk around the office or gently stretch muscles to relieve tension. A pillow or rolled-up towel placed behind the small of your back can provide some lumbar support. If you must sit for a long period of time, rest your feet on a low stool or a stack of books.
• Wear comfortable, low-heeled shoes.
• Sleep on your side to reduce any curve in your spine. Always sleep on a firm surface.
• Ask for help when transferring an ill or injured family member from a reclining to a sitting position or when moving the patient from a chair to a bed.
• Don’t try to lift objects too heavy for you. Lift with your knees, pull in your stomach muscles, and keep your head down and in line with your straight back. Keep the object close to your body. Do not twist when lifting.
• Maintain proper nutrition and diet to reduce and prevent excessive weight, especially weight around the waistline that taxes lower back muscles. A diet with sufficient daily intake of calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin D helps to promote new bone growth.
• If you smoke, quit. Smoking reduces blood flow to the lower spine and causes the spinal discs to degenerate.
Courtesy of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke of the National Institutes of Health. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/backpain/detail_backpain.htm#191333102