About 80% of adults experience low back pain at some point in their lifetime. Low back pain is the most common job-related issue relating to missed work days. To lessen its effect and for preventative care, therapists at Prairie Rehab offer these five tips for taking care of your back.
#1 Lift with your hips and legs.
Your hips and legs are much more powerful than your back and will help protect your spine with proper lifting. Check out the following principles of proper lifting to help prevent injury and avoid back pain.
- First test the object for weight, load distribution, load stability, and availability of reliable grip points.
- Position your feet so that they are about shoulder width apart, and one is slightly forward of the other to assist with center of gravity and neutral spine.
- Bend your knees, tighten your abdominal muscles, and keep your back straight (neutral spine).
- Lift the load slowly and steadily. Use of momentum can decrease control. Lee Glasoe, OTR, CHT at Prairie Rehab demonstrates how this should look:
#2 Don’t twist – maintain good posture.
Twisting creates more strain on your spine and the cushioning discs between your vertebrae. Proper posture allows for better movement, improved breathing, and decreases pressure on the lower back, middle back and neck. Good posture keeps the three natural spinal curves of your body which include the cervical curve of the neck, the thoracic curve of the upper back and the lumbar curve of the lower back. Overall, good posture will make you feel better.
#3 Get strong!
Strengthening your core can improve your posture and balance. It can also help ease back pain and prevent further injury or strain. Because your core supports your spine, strong abdominal muscles take the pressure off your back and help align your spine. Try the following core strengthening exercises to help you improve your strength.
Core Strengthening Exercises
- Start on your side with your feet together and one forearm directly below your shoulder.
- Contract your core and raise your hips until your body is in a straight line from head to feet.
- Hold the position without letting your hips drop for the allotted time for each set, then repeat on the other side.
- Place forearms on the floor with elbows aligned below shoulders and arms parallel to your body at about shoulder width. Contract your core and keep your body straight!
- If flat palms bother your wrists, clasp your hands together.
- Stand with your feet apart, directly under your hips, and place your hands on your hips.
- Standing up tall, put your shoulders back, lift your chest, and pull in your abdominal muscles.
- Bend your knees while keeping your upper body as straight as possible while you bend at your hips, as if you were lowering yourself onto a seat behind you. Lower yourself as far as you can while leaning your upper body a few inches forward as pictured.
- Make sure your back is flat against the wall.
- Set your feet about shoulder-width apart and then about 2 feet out from the wall.
- Slide your back down the wall, bending your legs until they’re in a 90-degree angle. Your knees should be directly above your ankles.
- Hold your position for 30 to 60 seconds, while contracting your abs.
- Stand slowly while sliding back up the wall to finish.
#4 Stay flexible by stretching.
Stretching reduces the risk of musculoskeletal injuries by reducing fatigue, improving muscular balance and posture, and improving muscle coordination. It also realigns soft tissue structures, thus reducing effort to achieve and maintain good posture in activities of daily living. Stretching increases joint synovial fluid (lubricant for bones and articular cartilage) that allows greater range of motion and reduces joint degeneration.
Try these stretches to help stay flexible:
Standing Glute Stretch
Standing Lunge Stretch
#5 Be in balance with your movement.
Your body is meant to move. If you move in balance, your body functions best. If one side is injured and you favor it for a long time, your body adapts and eventually that becomes your new normal. Much like a car out of alignment, this creates additional wear and tear in your body.
Our therapy team at Prairie Rehab is ready to take the next step with you. To schedule an appointment or get more information, please call our main office at 605-334-5630. We would be happy to answer any questions or concerns you may have.
A full list of our outpatient clinic locations can be found here.
About Prairie Rehabilitation
At Prairie Rehabilitation our Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Hand Therapy and Speech Therapy experts are passionate about helping our patients reclaim their way of life and function. It’s about you; you are unique with distinct qualities, abilities, and needs. At Prairie Rehabilitation we embrace the philosophy of “Patient First” care; treating each individual with precise and personalized care. To achieve the best results and to speed your recovery, we are committed to utilizing the most clinically proven and current concepts in rehabilitation.
About the Private Practice Section of the APTA
Founded in 1956, the Private Practice Section of the American Physical Therapy Association champions the success of physical therapist-owned businesses. Our members are leaders and innovators in the health care system. The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) represents more than 85,000 physical therapists, physical therapist assistants and students of physical therapy nationwide. For more information, please visit www.ppsapta.org