5-Tips for Managing and Preventing Low Back Pain- by Dr. Nathan Servey, your local Victoria, MN Chir
According to the Global Burden of Disease 2010, one of the most comprehensive epidemiological studies of world-wide populations, low back pain is the single largest cause of disability worldwide. Up to half of US adults admit to suffering from low back pain within the last year and low back pain is one-of-the-most common causes of missed days at work and school. The good news is that for many Americans, low back pain doesn't have to be a life sentence.
Below I've assembled some tips for preventing, managing, and living with low back pain. As always, talk with your chiropractor or other health care practitioner about proper treatment.
1.) Visit your Chiropractor
When it comes to your spinal health, nobody has your back more than your Chiropractor (please excuse the pun). You can expect a detailed orthopedic, neurological, and chiropractic exam to determine the exact cause of the pain and a detailed treatment plan aimed at decreasing pain, improving joint mobility. optimizing nerve function, and restoring joint alignment. X-rays or other advanced imaging may be ordered at the doctors discretion. Chiropractic is a safe, natural, cost-effective, and conservative option requiring no drugs or surgery and should be the first treatment option for most low back pain sufferers.
2.) Lose weight/ Eat healthy
Those extra pounds add increased vertical stress on your body and increase wear-and-tear on the discs, joints, and vertebrae in your spine. Over time, this added pressure can lead to injury including disc herniation, loss of disc height, arthritis, nerve impingement, and serious chronic pain and disability. There are many reasons why maintaining a healthy weight is important for your health and luckily there are countless resources available to those looking for a program or support. Here is a site with some great healthy recipes. Talk with your chiropractor about nutrition and healthy eating and what diet is best for your condition.
3.) Stay active
For most people, remaining active is important for managing low back pain. Motion is important for joint and spine health and "turns off" pain signals to the brain. As always, check with your chiropractor or family doctor about which types of exercise are best for you. Many people who suffer from back pain do the opposite and rest or lie in bed all-day leading to loss of muscle tone and deconditioning which can make the problem even worse. Low-impact forms of exercise such as biking, walking, swimming, and lifting weights under supervision are generally the best options. Core strengthening activities should be a component of low back pain prevention and management.
4.) Set aside time to stretch
Stretching is a great activity for people of all-ages to help balance muscle tone, increase flexibility, and improve posture and gait. In some cases stretching can actually exacerbate your pain and spinal problem so check with your chiropractor or physical therapist about which stretches are safe and best for you. Here are some examples of good low back stretches. For best results, stretching an individual muscle should be done a minimum of 4-minutes/day (either all-at-once or broken-up into smaller chunks of time throughout the day).
5.) Maintain good posture
Posture refers to your body's position and alignment at any point in time. Positions held for longer periods of time (such as sitting in your car or at work) and under increased weight or speed (such as lifting heavy objects or sprinting) are important to be aware of and to optimize to decrease your risk for injury. A few general tips on posture... (1) keep your chin slightly tucked and head pulled-back over the base of your neck (2) practice squeezing your shoulder blades together and down and holding for a minute at a time (3) engage your core by lifting your pelvis and contracting your glutes while walking and sitting (4) make your workplace more ergonomic by raising your computer screen to eye-level, wearing supportive and quality shoes, keeping your computer mouse as close as possible, and getting-up to stand or move every 20- minutes. Here is a helpful guide.