How Should You Handle Your Low Back Pain?

How Should You Handle Your Low Back Pain?

Take Care of Your Back Throughout the Day

 

You floss and brush your teeth for good oral hygiene. Your goal is to prevent disease, delay decay, and help avoid expensive dental procedures that neglecting your mouth health might bring about.  By performing this daily maintenance routine, you ensure that you do not run into any future issues with your gums and teeth. This helps avoid costly dental bills. You also take good care of your skin by applying sunscreen to help prevent damage to your skin cells and any further medical issues down the line. So what are you doing for your spine? Are you practicing good spine health techniques to help limit your discomfort and pain? Do you perform “routine” exercises to help improve spinal mobility and muscle performance? There are several techniques you can perform throughout the day to help ensure good spine health. Best of all, these techniques do not require any fancy equipment or expensive products.

1. Engage your spinal stabilizing muscles.

Often times when people hear this they think of participating in Pilates, getting in a plank position, or performing some sort of rigorous workout targeting core muscles. While there is nothing wrong with partaking in these tasks, they are not always readily available or easy to do throughout the day. There are simple techniques you can do often throughout the day without anybody really noticing. First, sit towards the edge of your chair. Pretend there is a string on the top of the back of your head that is pulling you toward the ceiling. You should feel your stomach tighten a little. You should also have the sensation that you are “holding” yourself in place. Congratulations, you are now in a neutral spine alignment and relying on your “muscles” to do their job and support your spine.  You will want to hold this position for at least 10 seconds. Perform at least 4 times an hour. (The recliner and couch prevent us from keeping this alignment.) A                                                                                          B

Picture A demonstrates sitting without activation of the core muscles.

Picture A demonstrates sitting without activation of the core muscles.

Picture B demonstrates sitting with good activation of the core muscles in neutral alignment. 

Picture B demonstrates sitting with good activation of the core muscles in neutral alignment.

 

You can also perform this in standing when you walk. You will want to again pretend there is a string on the top of the back of your head that is pulling you toward the ceiling. You should feel your stomach tighten as if there is a “natural corset” surrounding your spine. This will help you engage those muscles when you are in more functional walking and standing positions.

2. Perform regular Low Back/Pelvic mobility exercises.

Sitting is often a position where a lot of back pain can be experienced. This can appear a lot with people who have a typical desk job or need to sit for extended periods of time. Try this technique out: Next time you are sitting down, try to perform pelvic rocking periodically to keep the spine nice and mobile. (It will often stiffen up after sitting for a while.) Follow these steps to perform a correct and safe pelvic rocking.

  1. When you are sitting down, slowly rock your hips back so that your low back slouches a little. This will put you in a flexed posture.
  2. Next rock your hips forward so that you begin to arch your low back. You will now feel that you are bending your back backwards.
  3. Now rock back and forth between these two motions in a slow and controlled manner.
  4. Note: If you have pain going into either of these positions you will need to stop just short of that pain in order to perform the movement in a comfortable pattern.
  5. Perform 15 repetitions each way several times a day as tolerated.

A                                                                                       B

Picture A demonstrates hips rocked forward with your spine slightly bent backwards.

Picture A demonstrates hips rocked forward with your spine slightly bent backwards.

Picture B demonstrates hips rocked backwards so that your back is slightly slouched.     

Picture B demonstrates hips rocked backwards so that your back is slightly slouched.

     

 

 

 

3. Standing Spine Stretch.

Often times people will focus on bending forward to stretch their spine, but is that what we should be doing? At times it will be necessary to do this, but for some conditions, the spine may prefer to bend backward more often than forwards.           Standing Spine Stretch, reduce low back pain

To perform a different kind of spine stretch, raise your hands above your head while they are locked together. Now reach your hands and arms high towards the ceiling. This should create a natural backward bend in your spine. The goal here is to not get too aggressive but to work out any stiffness that may be present. Hold this position for 10 seconds. Perform 1-2x an hour to take breaks from sitting.

If you have back pain that makes it difficult to sit, stand, or participate in the activities you love, then you may want to start putting a little more attention on your “spine health”. Much like maintaining good healthy habits for our teeth and gums to prevent any disease, we should also be focusing on a nice healthy spine regiment throughout the day. This will help you to feel less pain and stiffness while gaining more confidence about your back throughout the day.

Is It Ok To Feel Pain When Exercising?

Is It Ok To Feel Pain When Exercising?

Is Pain Ok During Exercise When Rehabbing An Injury?

Is It Ok To Feel Pain When Exercising? When enough is enough and how to tell when.So you’ve had back pain for quite some time and aren’t sure what to do. You’ve been dealing with it for months, or maybe even years, and it has kept you from enjoying the activities you love. You may have tried several treatments to improve your condition, but at times it seems difficult to understand your body and know if what you are doing is safe and good for you. Your doctor may have said you need more exercise, but exercise hurts and you aren’t sure where to start. Many people will begin an exercise program but stop short of completing it due to the increase in pain they feel either during or after it. There are several approaches to managing our pain, but first, we must understand what our body is telling us before we get any relief. Knowledge is important to reduce pain and fear.

“No Pain No Gain”

Often times people will begin an exercise regiment with the concept of  “no pain no gain”, thinking that if they push through the pain that it will go away. In reality what they find out is that their body cannot tolerate the amount of stress and load they are placing on it. In this approach, the person will push through the pain barrier. This pain barrier is present to protect our bodies. With multiple tries at this approach to make their pain go away, they will become overwhelmed with the failure and give up on exercise altogether because “it didn’t work”.  This will lead to further avoidance of activity. Example: You begin a walking program in hopes to improve blood flow and decrease stress. However, you walk too long to begin with (depending on your tolerance it could be 5 minutes or 20 minutes).  You then experience immense pain when you come home and cannot do any of your regular household chores. To no avail, you try again but with the same result, each time flaring up your condition with no improvement.

“If It Hurts Don’t Do It”

This approach will do more harm than good and can be characterized by avoiding any meaningful activity or exercise that can be beneficial to the body. It is often accompanied by fear, anxiety, and uncertainty about what might happen if “too much” activity occurs. You will become hypersensitive about any movements you perform and in turn, avoid the very movements that can help reduce your pain. Tolerance to activity and movements will decrease, limiting exercise and movement. But the key is that the body and tissues need to be stressed a little so they can adapt over time, which will allow for high tolerance for certain activities. Example: Having experienced pain during walking you decide that this exercise is bad for you and you may be fearful that it will continue to harm you.  However, this will not improve your body’s ability to perform certain activities and will decondition it further.

“Tease It, Touch It, Nudge It”

What does this entail you might ask? This approach is the happy medium between the prior two approaches. “No pain no gain” is too aggressive and “If it hurts don’t do it” is too passive. “Tease it, touch it, nudge it” lies in the middle of the prior approaches. It entails performing a specific exercise or certain tasks into a little discomfort. There will be some soreness and maybe an ache here or there, but this is necessary for the body to adapt to new thresholds of activity. Over time, as the task or exercise is performed, the body adapts to new activity levels. This will allow you to perform the exercise for longer periods of time or at heavier loads. You have successfully gradually improved your ability to perform tasks with less pain and at longer durations. Example: You decide to begin a walking regiment. Your first walk can last 6 minutes or whenever you start to feel some aching/soreness in your low back. You decide to not push through into further pain. That afternoon you have a noticeable soreness in your back as if “you have definitely worked it a little bit” but it doesn’t keep you from carrying on your chores and work for the day. This soreness or slight increase in pain would be a normal response to an appropriate amount of exercise. So do not fret if this is what you feel. You progressively add a minute to your walk and slowly build up your activity tolerance so that you can now walk 15 minutes without any pain. When dealing with pain it can be difficult to know what will benefit you and what will keep you in a state of persistent pain. Some important ideas to remember include: “hurt does not always equal harm” and “soreness is ok”.  In other words, you want to exercise, but not in the “no pain no gain” range and not in the “if it hurts don’t do it” range. Instead, your body will need a certain dosing of exercise all the while respecting the body and your pain. This will allow for you to begin tolerating other activities in your life that are normally painful. So the next time someone tells you “You just need to exercise”, they better have a good suggestion on what type of exercise will benefit you most!