Back Pain - What Causes It And How To Avoid It
Because prevention is always better than cure, taking good care of your spine will increase your chances of staying injury free and mobile in the long term. Important everyday movements like walking, bending down and getting out of bed originate from the spine so protecting the back is incredibly important when it comes to maintaining a good quality of life.
Back pain can be mild or severe, but it is damage to one of the gel-filled discs in between any two of our 29 vertebrae that causes immense discomfort. Usually, the disc damage comes from being distorted (known as herniated, where the disc bulges) or torn (known as prolapsed, where there is damage to the disc surface). This damage can be caused by an acute injury, for example picking up something heavy in an awkward position, or a chronic injury caused by maintaining poor posture over a long period of time.
Unfortunately it is often what we do at work that causes this chronic injury. For those of us who sit behind a desk or drive for an extended period of time each day, forward head and shoulder posture is very common. This posture results in excessive stress on the lower neck and can contribute to degenerative disc disease. Sitting down is simply not a position that our bodies should be in often.
The effects of sitting, standing or lying in positions that put the spine at risk of injury are magnified when the muscles that support the spine are weak or compromised. These muscles, particularly around the lower back and pelvis, provide vital support when sitting, lifting, walking and when performing many other basic movements. If these muscles are not strong or coordinated, other muscles not designed to do the job of the core take over, leading to further imbalances; this is when the risk of injury increases.
A few simple tips and hints to help protect your back are to:
- Sit tall at your desk and ensure you look straight ahead at your computer monitor, so your monitor is at eye level. Be aware of forward head and shoulder posture
- Get up from your desk every hour if possible and move around for a few minutes
- When lifting, make sure you use your powerful leg muscles by bending the knees, and ensure that you are facing straight on to the object you are lifting. A common cause of acute back injury is lifting a heavy object when trying to bend and twist at the same time.
- Do Pilates! There is a strong focus of core strength so participating in this form of exercise regularly will likely result in improved posture
- Never ignore pain. Seek advice from those who know best like a physiotherapist.
Try to incorporate the above tips into your daily routine!
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