Lower back pain can be more serious than people think. After working with lower back patients for over 19 years, I’ve come to learn that what most don’t know about back pain that can actually make it worse.
I’ve seen some serious back problems in the clinic and most every patient I met would tell you, if they could…
“Don’t ignore it.”
With our busy lives and hectic schedules, it’s easy to simply IGNORE these messages that our body is trying to tell us that something is wrong. You should listen to what your body is trying to tell you. Here is a list of what NOT TO DO if you have back pain that can actually make it worse:
1. Do not sit for more than 20 minutes without getting up to take a break.
- Many serious back problems start this way. It seems harmless enough to not be able to sit very long before the pain forces you to stand up. Your body will tell you when something is wrong in the form of SORENESS/PAIN. Listen to it and take frequent breaks from sitting. Recent studies conclude that sitting is the number one worst thing for your back. The harm to your health actually surpasses the effects of other diseases such as heart disease, obesity and diabetes. Believe it. Sitting too much can take years off your life.
- The main problem with sitting too much is that it compresses the discs of the spine that act as shock absorbers. When compressed too long the water content decreases and over time it makes them brittle. Many serious problems occur as discs become too brittle. Most surgeries (ie. fusions) are a result of brittle discs. I’m not trying to scare you (actually I am sort of), it’s just that many back problems begin with difficulty sitting.
Even if you exercise, it doesn’t take away the negative effects sitting has on your body and health
2. Do not sleep on an old mattress.
- Most of us will spend 1/3 of our lives sleeping. You must have supportive mattress that provides allows for the proper alignment of your spine. Do not use a mattress that sags or is compressed. The amount of money you spend on a good mattress is a good investment in your health.
- Often it’s the discs being overly compressed throughout the day. Some people can lose over an inch in height throughout the day! The compression pushes the water out of the discs. And when you lie down to sleep, the water fills back up, and the volume refills and it can put pressure on the structures of the back thereby causing discomfort. The proper support of the spine is key to this when sleeping. There are more technical explanations but I won’t bore you with it all here.
3. Do not twist when lifting or carrying more than 25 lbs.
- Twisting when lifting loads of more than 25 lbs will place your muscles at risk of injury due to the load and stretch of the muscle.
- Twisting will also cause a compression of the discs that can result in further bulging or damage to the disc and spine. This further dehydrates the disc and can lead to pinching of the nerves and more pain.
4. Don’t bend at the back, but lift with the legs.
- Make sure to squat down and lift with the legs while keeping your back straight when lifting heavy objects from the floor. If the load is too heavy, make sure to get help.
- If you are picking up something light, use the “golfers” method of picking the object up by bending at the hip and knee on one side while kicking the other leg back. This will protect the spine from unnecessary stress.
- I know you have all heard this before, but this is a common mistake that even I make if not reminded.
3 Things You Can Do at Home to Alleviate Your Back Pain:
1. Get a new bed. I know this can be a costly solution for some, but your health depends on it. The proper bed can make all the difference.
2. Do not sit on the couch. When relaxing at home sitting on the couch places the spine in a compressed position due lack of support. Instead, lie on the floor either on your stomach or back.
3. Get a heat pack. Ice is good for reducing swelling and inflammation, but a heat pack will help your tight and sore muscles relax and will provide pain relief at the end of the day or first thing in the morning to help you loosen up.
Try this exercise for your stomach and glutes and for 5 minutes a day find relief. 90% of those with back pain are not doing this exercise and it is extremely effective.
NEXT STEP – SOLUTIONS:
Physical therapy often is the best choice for lower back pain. How is it different than chiropractics, acupuncture, massage or medicines? It addresses and treats the root cause rather than just the symptoms. Many patients get significant relief in their first visit and are done within 6 sessions. And the results are pretty long-lasting. The cost can vary but is typically around $40-$90 per session based on the complexity of your condition. Most who get therapy say they love it. Mention this article and get a consult or screening for only $47.
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I hope this guide helps you on your road to stopping lower back pain. For more information, go to http://lowbackpainfree.com. You can also search a directory of the best physical therapists specializing in lower back pain there. Good luck!
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