At Coastal Spine, every day we see the results of patients who take their back health for granted. Lower back pain, sciatica, herniated discs, and strained muscles are all common issues with the lower back.
The best defense against back pain is a good offense, to quote sports jargon. But in this case, the thinking is good — making some easy efforts to change the way you view your back can keep it pain free. Here are a few tips for less back pain in 2022.
Why is it always the low back that hurts?
Most of our twisting, bending, and the like involve the lumbar spine, the lower five vertebrae, L1-L5, that end in the hips. The majority of stress occurs in L4 and L5 and S1 (the first vertebra of the sacrum). These vertebrae deal with the most wear and tear and suffer the most injuries.
Things you can do
- #1 Strengthen your core — Sure, you can do crunches and other exercises such as planks and lunges that strengthen your core. But you can also do simple, low-impact cardiovascular exercise such as using an elliptical machine to strengthen your core and increase blood flow throughout the spinal area.
- #2 Sit better — Get an ergonomic chair for your office. Slightly elevate your feet when you are sitting to alleviate some of the stress on your back. Get a standing desk and use it for at least part of the day. Sitting places three times as much stress on your spine as does standing.
- #3 Lift objects smarter — Don’t be haphazard when you lift stuff. Squat down. Keep your chest forward. Lead with your hips, not your shoulders. Keep the weight close to your body. Lifting things away from your body almost ensures you’ll injure your back at some point.
- #4 Lose some pounds — Imagine carrying around a bag of fertilizer all day every day. That’s what your back is saying to you as it copes with the 25 or 30 extra pounds that you weigh above your ideal weight. You don’t have to be a physics major to understand that those loads are going to cause additional wear and tear and additional risk of injury for your lower back. Don’t think of losing weight as losing 25 pounds all at once. That will feel impossible. Think a pound every week or two, and you’ll have better chances of actually getting there. And don’t follow the latest fad diet. Simply eat good foods, such as more fruits and vegetables and cut out processed food. Eat home cooked meals more often and avoid fast food like it’s the guy who came to work despite having the stomach flu. Use exercise to burn the calories that get you to a negative rate every day. That’s simple math and it works to lose weight.
While at Coastal Spine we’re all about helping patients deal with back pain, hopefully these tips will mean we see far less of you! Call us if you need us, however, (856) 222-4444, to make an appointment at one of our five New Jersey offices.