Today I will touch on a common issue that affects most of us, how to prevent it and reduce its adverse effects on our lives: Low Back Pain.
Low back pain is a common musculoskeletal disorder which affects the lumbar segment of the spine. It can be either acute, sub-acute or chronic in nature. As a personal trainer with over two decades in Singapore, I have seen far more people injuring their lower back or getting back aches through doing normal day-to-day stuff than doing serious weight training.
An acute lower back injury may be caused by a traumatic event, like a automobile accident or a fall. Often damaged structures are likely to be soft tissues like muscles, ligaments and tendons. In other cases, fractures in the lumber spine caused by Osteoporosis may also occur. In chronic cases, the pain usually occurs over a period of time. Causes may include osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, discs problems (e.g. due to poor posture or muscular imbalances), vertebral fracture etc. The cause may also be psychological or emotional (e.g. depression), and other factors. Many times, the causes are due to a combination of the factors.
Many of us developed low back pain from poor posture, improper ergonomic practices (e.g. lifting objects with a wrong technique) , sitting incorrectly (e.g. stooped posture), repetitive movements, immobility, weak muscles, leg and hip positions and other physical reasons.
Most people try to address their back pain through massage, acupuncture, surgery (in severe cases) etc which may get immediate relief. However, such techniques often do not give you a permanent relief. The best ways to eliminate back pain are often not as complicated as you think.
Here we will share some of the proven tips to prevent and get well from back pain:
Sitting Properly. When sitting either driving, or while at work, always support your lower back by using a rolled towel, small pillow and stay upright. When working at a desk, your chair should be near the desk. The height of your chair should allow your knees to bend at 90 degrees. If it's too high, elevate your feet with a box or something. After sitting for a prolonged period, even correctly, is a bad practice. It is helpful to change position (e.g. slouching into the chair to completely relax the back in a recline position, bending forward until your chest is touch your thighs to stretch your back) every now and then. Also stand and walk around for awhile.
Exercise is important. Do exercises (like plank) that targets the core muscles (the back and abdominal muscles) and leg muscles. Also do stretching exercises to improve flexibility in the same muscles (as well as hamstrings and hip region) of to help avoid excessive strain and possible injury. Aerobic exercise is important to improve muscular endurance, avoid the fatigue and help one lose weight that can force the spine into an exaggerated curve that may lead to back injury. Proper technique must be used when doing these exercises otherwise you get yourself injured from trying to improving the conditions.
Practice right lifting techniques. When trying to lift something off the floor, remember these three pointers:
Squat down to pick up
Always be sure to bend at the hips and knees - not the low back.
Keep the weight close to the body.