Perfect Your Posture: Think about how you sit at your desk, the kitchen table, or even in your car. Do you slouch forward, sink down, or do your feet barely reach the floor? All of these things among others, can be contributing to your back pain. Evaluate your work set up, take steps to promote good posture by positioning your computer and work desk properly, and getting a supportive chair that is the appropriate height. Pay attention to your posture, sit up tall, elongate your neck and spine, and gently arch your lower back by rotating your hips forward. This position will feel awkward and uncomfortable at first, but with time and practice you will sit better, and have a healthier back.
Limit Rest: We all know the mantra after an injury “Rest, Ice and Compression”. This advice works well for a recent injury, say in the past week, like an ankle sprain. Resting was, at one point, the standard care for back injuries. Now it’s found that continuing to engage in daily life as much as possible is beneficial. Doing this helps to prevent deconditioning, and combat depression which commonly occurs with chronic injuries.
Strengthen Your Core: There is a reason everyone in the fitness industry talks about the core. The core is made up of your abdominal muscles and key back muscles that creates a stable platform from which the rest of your body functions. If one side of the core is weak, the other side must overwork to compensate. We all know about the six pack (rectus abdominus), and the obliques. These two sets of muscles are the primary movers of the trunk- they help you bend your back forward and rotate your trunk. The transverse abdominus is the lesser known cousin of these two powerhouses, and it supports the lumbar spine, promoting good posture. Look for exercises that target this muscle like planking.
Body Mechanics: This is simple but an overlooked tool to ease back pain. When lifting objects from the floor, bend at the knees, flatten your back and engage your abdominals, and keep the object as close to your body as you can. For lighter objects consider sinking to one knee, or squatting down before bending over to reach the object. This eases the stress on your spine. Pay attention to your body mechanics in daily tasks! This will help you carry those good habits over into activities that require fast movements which frequently exacerbate pain, such as picking up your toddler or moving furniture.
Exercise: Those suffering from recurrent back pain should continue to engage in as much exercise as possible. Running may not be an appropriate form of exercise for you, but something as simple as 15-30 minutes a day of walking with good posture can promote strength , cardiovascular health, and boost your mood. Meet your body where it is. Find exercises that are reasonably comfortable, and make sure you use correct form!
Having back pain or other issues? Reach out for a free injury screening with one of our physical therapist!