The back is one of the most active and intricate parts of our bodies. It has many muscles, ligaments, and nerves that work in conjunction with the vertebrae of our spine. Together these structures allow us to stand up-right, bend, twist and protect our spinal cord. It is no wonder that back pain is a top concern when it occurs. Being held up by an aching back can be, at the minimum, quite frustrating.
There are many risks and reasons one might develop back pain. Some of the main culprits are: heavy lifting jobs, pregnancy, a spine condition that is already present, direct injury, carrying small children, strenuous activities, aging, lack of exercise causing loss of muscle mass, obesity, bad posture, and extended sit times at work.
One of the key components to avoiding back pain is prevention. Strengthening the muscles of the back is not as difficult as it seems. Exercises as simple as riding a stationary bike or taking a swift walk 15-20 minutes 4-5 times a week will help bring weak muscles back into shape fairly quickly. Avoid heavy lifting and frequent twisting or reaching for large objects. Instead, keep your back straight and forward, hold the object close to your center of gravity (your tummy), and lift with your knees. Caring for toddlers can also quickly put your back in a pinch. Have toddlers hold your hand or utilize a stroller instead of carrying them. If you are an athlete or are about to participate in a vigorous activity (even if that activity stems from a sudden urge for spring cleaning), stretch your back. Reach for your toes and hold that position for several seconds. Reach up to towards the sky and bend slowly to your right and then your left. Do this 10-12 times before starting your activity. Be sure to take breaks during activities to rest and re-stretch the back. On the job site, make sure you are using supportive devices. If you are lifting and moving objects throughout the day, considering having a support belt in place or talk to your employer about what they may suggest for your line of work. If you are in an office environment, make sure your chair and desk work ergonomically for you and be sure you get up and walk around several times throughout your day.