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At any given time, it’s estimated that 31 million Americans are experiencing the effects of low back pain.
Within the last 30 years, living with a disability that was caused by low back pain has increased by 54%.
The cause of that low back pain?
A mechanical problem.
This means most back pain is not caused by tumors or cancer but rather our daily habits and movement patterns.
In fact, when we get into how to prevent back pain in those 3 steps below, it all starts here.
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To understand why back pain is so common, researchers have started to monitor the different movements and exercises typical Americans do throughout their everyday routine.
Federal research conducted by the Center for Disease Control found that 25% of Americans spend more than 8 hours a day sitting.
In 2010, a study showed that a sedentary lifestyle increases mortality rate by 71%.
Causes and Risk Factors of Low Back Pain
This research on how to prevent back pain starts to make sense as we observe the risk factors that contribute to low back pain.
Many of the risk factors are things that we can control in our daily life (maybe except for age and disease).
These contributing risk factors include:
- Age: 30-40 years of age
- Lack of Exercise: weak core muscles can lead to pain
- Improper lifting: weak leg muscles when lifting can lead to pain
- Psychological Conditions: Depression and anxiety have been shown to provide a greater risk of back pain.
- Diseases: chronic diseases like arthritis and cancer can lead to low back pain.
- Smoking: a common side effect of smoking is coughing, leading to muscle sprains and herniated disks.
- Excess weight: extra body weight puts more stress on your spine, hips, and knees.
Four of the seven risk factors above demonstrate different components that can be eliminated or managed when it comes to how to prevent back pain episodes and severity.
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These can help with low back pain and other diseases from excess weight, smoking, and lack of exercise.
Symptoms of Low Back Pain
Imagine bending over to lift a heavy object off the floor.
As you feel that familiar twinge in your low back and slowly get to a seated position, you immediately feel regret.
Regret for bending at the hips and lifting after being warned not to because you may get low back pain.
Many of us know and understand this feeling of impending lower back pain that will take you off your feet and probably out of work for a day or two.
How do you know when it is just low back pain or when you should see your chiropractor?
Here are some common and not so common symptoms that you should look out for:
Common (Yes, you should see your Chiropractor!)
- Muscle aches
- Shooting pain down the leg
- Stabbing sensations
- Worsens with bending, twisting, lifting, standing, or walking.
Less Common (Again, you should see your Chiropractor.)
- Persists longer than a few weeks
- No improvement with rest
- Weakness, numbness, tingling in one or both legs
- Unexplained weight loss
Rare (You should go to the Emergency Room!)
- Bowel or bladder problems
- Following a severe fall
How to Prevent Back Pain: 3 Easy Steps
A practical method for treating low back pain is prevention.
As we recall, the majority of causes of low back pain are preventable and can be managed.
Sitting is one of the worst activities for our spinal health.
When doctors look at the pressure in the spine, they notice that while performing easy tasks like laying down on your back or side, your spine has about 25-75mm of pressure.
However, when you move into a sitting position, the pressure shifts to 140mm.
The worst position you could be in for pressure on your spine is sitting and bent forward, which increases the pressure in the spine to a whopping 275mm.
Unfortunately, this is the position we spend the most time in during work and when we get home to relax.
Therefore one of the best preventative measures that anyone can do for low back pain – and in fact the step at the top of our list for how to prevent back pain – is to get up and get moving.
This could mean anything! Take a yoga class, play soccer in a local league, or take the dog for a walk.
Step One: Get Moving
Exercise and movement are essential for the body.
Not only for your lower back, but your entire spine, hips, knees, and all the joints in your body.
The motion of simply walking has multiple benefits for your body.
The American Heart Association recommends 30 minutes of walking each day, or a total of 150 minutes a week.
Their researchers have discovered that this amount of walking can provide additional benefits besides just back pain relief.
Some other benefits you may notice include improved cholesterol, increased bone strength, and lowered blood pressure.
In addition to simple exercises like yoga and walking, strengthening the core is essential to healthy spine care.
Your ‘core’ consists of your abdominal muscles as well as your gluteal muscles.
When these muscles are activated and working correctly, your back muscles get a nice vacation from the heavy lifting.
Core exercises are straightforward to do in the comfort of your home.
You can look up many of the exercises listed below on YouTube for helpful tutorials to get your core strong!
These simple exercises include:
- Bird Dog
- Sumo Squats
- Hungarian Deadlifts
- Bodyweight Squats
Step Two: Improve Your Posture
Posture, or ergonomics, as your boss at work likes to call it, is the position in which someone holds their body when standing, sitting, or doing any range of movements.
When you are a child, your spine starts to form its proper posture by lifting your head and crawling.
These motions help put the desired curves into your spine that are meant to last a lifetime.
However, doctors have noticed that the curves flatten and eventually move backward with chronic poor posture.
This means our bodies are no longer in the preferred posture to handle everyday life.
One of the most common positions seen is called Lower Crossed Syndrome.
Lower Crossed Syndrome is when the abdominals and gluteal muscles are weak, and the quads and muscles in your low back are too tight.
This combination allows the spine to curve steeply in and the butt to push out backward.
Many times this can lead to chronic low back problems.
The best way to alter problems such as Lower Crossed Syndrome or general low back pain brings us back to step number one.
Make sure to get moving and exercise the core muscles in your body.
As we sit all day, all those poor posture habits start to cement in, making the problem even harder to solve.
Some ways to improve posture throughout your day include:
- Sit up in your chair, so your bottom is towards the front of the chair.
- When standing or walking, make sure your hips are positioned directly under your body.
- By pushing your hips forward or backward, you alter the balance in your spine.
- When holding a cellphone, make sure to lift it to your face instead of lowering your head.
- Elevate your computer so you are staring into the middle of the screen instead of looking down.
Step Three: Get Consistent Chiropractic Care
Often the first sign of a problem is pain.
Pain is similar to a check engine light.
The body is not sure what is wrong, but it knows that something is off-kilter.
One of the best ways to avoid the check engine light turning on is getting the oil changed or rotating the tires.
This is the same belief behind getting regular Chiropractic care.
Did You Know
Typically, preventative or maintenance care with a chiropractor involves visiting about once per month to get your body checked.
This includes monitoring posture, muscle strength or spasm, and most importantly, ensuring the bones are aligned so the whole body can function correctly.
By making sure your body is always aligned, you will be able to take what life throws at you with a smile on your face.
Chiropractic is best at making sure the body is both flexible and strong.
So when you want to prevent spinal pain, make sure to get a monthly check-up.