Do you know what’s causing your back pain?
If doctors have ruled out any serious problem it would make sense to look at the muscle for the cause of the pain. One of the main sources of back pain today is our lifestyle. We are tense, under rested, overworked and under exercised. Prolonged sitting can cause tension and weakness in the neck, hips and back, and we sit for long hours at desk jobs, only to go home to continue sitting in front of the TV.
Most people are unaware that their pain is actually being caused by weakness or tension in another unrelated part of the body.
- Prolonged sitting has been found to cause the hip-flexor muscles to shorten. Tight hip-flexors can result in tightness in the hips and quad muscles, which causes the body to pull forward, putting extra strain on the back.
- When pain arises, the nervous system automatically goes into protective mode by adding tightness to protect the joint or muscle from further damage. Unfortunately by doing so, the body naturally shifts weight to take pressure off of the painful area. This can result in pain in the area that is carrying your weight. (IE: pain on one side of your back can cause pain in the opposite knee).
If the source of the pain is not dealt with it can become chronic. In some chronic pain cases the pain persists because of a neural memory of the pain rather than an actual ongoing pain source. Chronic pain can result in pain spreading to unrelated areas, poor posture, spinal instability, joint problems, and inability to perform everyday tasks.
Proper form is essential for weight lifting. The same goes for day-to-day activities. We can reduce the risk of injury by teaching the body to move more efficiently. We do so throughstretching, strength training and low-impact cardio conditioning.
It is natural to want to reduce movement when we are in pain, but lying still will result in stiffness, which can lengthen healing time. Therefore, it is necessary to push the range of motion as far as can be tolerated. It may take chronic LBP sufferers several weeks of stretching to mobilize the spine and muscles but regular stretching will slowly increase range of motion; aiding in sustained relief of back pain.
Remember that tightness in other areas of the body can be the cause of back pain. Be sure to do a whole body stretch routine and not only focus on the painful or stiff areas. Start stretching slowly, performing 3 sets of each stretch for 1 minute or until you feel the tight area begin to release tension. Be sure to stretch every day and before and after exercising.
Back pain should be treated with strengthening exercises to prevent recurring pain.
The human body moves in all directions, however, much of the workout equipment we use is very limiting because it works in a linear plane. Resisted bodyweight training is becoming a popular choice in both regular training and physical therapy because it uses natural movement to strengthen the body in all planes and vectors.
Resisted bodyweight training is great for rehab because it allows the user to control the level of intensity simply by altering their body angle. The use of a suspension gym can also make single leg exercises less intimidating because you are able to hold on to the straps for additional support (ex. reverse lunges) Bodyweight training can be done with the aid of a suspension gym, resistance bands, and weighed vests. Exercise balls are also great tools for core conditioning and stretching.
It has been found that cardiovascular fit people have fewer episodes of low back pain, and will experience less pain when an episode occurs.
Examples of low impact cardio that is good for back pain sufferers include:
Food Helps: Excess bodyweight can slow the healing process so it is important for back pain sufferers to maintain a healthy bodyweight. A balanced diet including a good source of protein is essential for muscle healing and rebuilding. Fruits and vegetables are a great source of vitamins that are needed for healing.
Smoking Hurts your Back: Smoking has been found to deprive the spine of oxygen in the blood supply and make the nervous system more sensitive which can have detrimental affects on healing.
Get your ZZZZZZs: A good night’s rest has long been known to help heal and build strength. Make sure you are getting eight hours.
When to see a Doctor
The right exercises for you will depend on the nature of your injury. If you are unsure of what exercises or equipment work best for your specific needs talk with a physical therapist or physician. Cancer, herniated disks, lumbar facet joint syndrome, and organ problems can cause back pain, so before beginning any self-care program it is important to see a doctor and rule out any health problems.
Pain sufferers who do not work on their stretching and conditioning regularly are more likely to gradually lose their ability to perform everyday tasks. So do yourself a favor: maintain a healthy body weight and keep your body healthy and strong with the tips given in this article. It can mean a pain free life!
This article written by Fitness Dame, official blogger for Astone Fitness News.
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