Back pain is one of the leading causes of disability. It is one of the main reasons why many individuals miss work, and why many seek out physiotherapy treatment.
Back pain has a variety of causes including, but not limited to, muscle strains, ligament strains, pinched nerves, herniated discs, arthritis, or osteoporosis. These can be due to improper posture, incorrect lifting techniques, genetics, or simply due to wear and tear of the body as we age. Whatever the case may be, there are ways that back pain is preventable. The following five tips may help prevent back pain from occurring or recurring.
1. Exercise on a regular basis
Exercise is the basis of physiotherapy. Various studies exist supporting why we should all be incorporating exercise into our everyday routines. Regular physical activity can help maintain a healthy weight, relieve tight muscles via stretches, and strengthen appropriate muscles to support joints and prevent injury.
Often, many individuals that experience low back pain have a weak core, particularly the transverse abdominal or TA muscles. The TA muscles, differing from the 6-pack muscles, are the deep and lower abdominal muscles that act as a girdle supporting the pelvis and low back. To practice initiating contraction of the TA muscles, lie flat on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat. Take a deep breath in and imagine a tightrope pulling your hip bones together or bringing your belly button to your spine. Hold the contraction for 5-10 seconds. Make sure to breathe throughout the exercise. Do 10 repetitions, 2-3 times a day for basic TA awareness and strengthening. Keeping the TA muscles in check can prevent unnecessary stress on spinal joints.
Further, following proper form in exercise can thwart back injury. Too often, someone new to exercise strains a back muscle by doing a squat or deadlift with improper form. Engage the core during appropriate exercises to protect the back. Educate yourself on what proper form is. Always incorporate a proper warm up and cool down during an exercise session to prevent injury. Stretch out problematic muscles frequently associated with back issues, such as the hamstrings and piriformis. Err on the side of caution, and listen to your body. If something does not feel right, don’t do it.
2. Use proper lifting technique
Maintain a straight back and an engaged core during lifting movements. Do not arch the back when lifting objects. This can place unnecessary stress on the back causing injury. Proper lifting technique involves bending the knees and squatting down to lift the item. Keep your feet wider than shoulder-width apart. To lift the object, push straight up through the heels. Keep your elbows bent, lifting the item from underneath. Avoid lifting heavy objects or lifting above shoulder height. Form can become compromised in these situations and leave you susceptible to injury.
3. Maintain a good posture throughout everyday activities
Posture is often defined as the alignment in which the body tissues are under the least amount of stress. Good posture when sitting at a desk or sleeping at night is important to prevent chronic pain from occurring due to muscular or ligament strains. It is recommended to sleep on your back, with a pillow under your knees if needed, or on your side with a slight bend in the knees. The two positions may help maintain the natural curvature of the back and prevent aches and pains associated with back pain. Further, a proper ergonomic set-up can optimize work space to reduce risk of back pain.
4. Be conscious of what good footwear is
Avoid high heels. Wearing comfortable and supportive footwear can promote proper posture and alignment. Everything in the body is connected. Footwear is no exception, and can, surprisingly, be the cause of your back pain.
5. Reduce Stress
Finding healthy means to cope with stressors in your life can have vast effects on your physical health. Stress often builds and can cause tension in the neck and mid-back muscles. This can lead to upper back or neck pain. Unfortunately, without means to address stress, a vicious cycle may ensue. The more stressed you are, the more pain you may experience in your back muscles. The more pain you are in, the more stressed you may become.
Outlets, such as exercise or finding an appropriate support network, can reduce stress in your life and break the cycle. Talk to a friend or family member, or seek out the help of a healthcare professional. Include exercise in your daily routine. Find what works best for you and your life.
If you do experience back pain, our therapists at Aquafit Physiotherapy are here to help. Our physiotherapists can provide pain relief via manual therapy techniques and modalities, as well as offer further education on preventative methods appropriate for the individual. Book your initial assessment today and we will help pave your way toward a better, fuller life, without pain.