Lower back pain is a common reason people visit a healthcare provider. About four out of five people will experience some type of back pain. The causes of back pain can be numerous and either acute or chronic. It can come because of injuries, sprains, discs, sciatica, osteoporosis, age, job-related factors, etc. Proper diagnosis of back pain from a medical exam can usually identify the conditions causing the pain and medical treatment.
However, one form of back pain comes from our posture and not being physically fit. The spine may not be adequately supported because of a weak back and abdominal muscles. If you spend time sitting or riding, you may start to experience tightness in your hip flexors and weakness in your core, which begin to cause muscle imbalance. Working on your computer and looking at your cell phone can cause the upper back to become weaker and the shoulders to round forward. Other reasons that can contribute to poor posture are heavy purses and backpacks.
Have you ever caught a glimpse of yourself as you passed a storefront window and noticed that you were slouching? If your parents ever taught you to sit up straight, stand straight or quit slouching those were words of wisdom. Our joints are surrounded by muscles that are controlled and produce our movements. If one muscle becomes tight on the side of a joint, it causes the other side to become weak. Muscle imbalances can result in injury with repetitive movement or overuse. The good news is that posture-related back pain can be improved.
Knowing how your muscle imbalance is created may help you find the reason, and that, in conjunction with some exercise, could help you eliminate or significantly reduce your back pain. Repetitive motions are one of the first reasons for back pain, and switching it up might be an effective way to start. Ask yourself if you sit the same way every day, carry your purse on the same shoulder, play sports while engaging one side and work out using the same muscles? If you are in a job that requires you to remain seated, look for opportunities to stand up and move around. Slouching while driving, especially on long trips, can contribute to back pain.
While driving on long trips, get out of the car and stretch or reposition your seat. Exercising in the same plane of motion moves the body through the same repetitive motion, such as running, cycling or doing the same bicep curl each time you work out. Frequent wearing of high heel shoes can also contribute to posture-related problems because it can change the position of your knees and cause tightness in your calves. Exercise that targets our core is beneficial for back health and lessens the chance of injury or pain.
A healthy back is a result of a stable and strong core. Core strength is not about six-pack abdominals because developing strong core muscles make a happy back. The core is any muscle that attaches to the spine or pelvis. Core exercises can include planks, bird dogs, reverse crunches, cat-cow, bridges and hamstring stretches. Stretching is also good for your back, such as the knee-chest stretches and group fitness classes that include barre, yoga and Pilates. Try to remember to lift by bending the knees and avoiding abdominal crunches because they stress the spine. Not all exercises help back pain; seek medical advice when in doubt. Live, love life with a healthy back!