Many people underestimate the importance of having a strong back, with most choosing to focus on the abdominals when they go to the gym.
But think about it – we use our back muscles for EVERYTHING, from picking up objects to standing to sitting to even coughing and sneezing.
If you partake in weight-training exercises, having a strong back sets a solid foundation for all your lifts, and allows you to move better and perform your workouts more efficiently.
If you’re a runner, having a strong back keeps you upright, and good posture can be an important factor in staying injury-free, as it helps to evenly distribute the forces that are being absorbed every step you run.
On the whole, having a strong back not only makes your day-to-day life easier and less strenuous, it also helps to ensure that you stay healthy and pain-free, especially as you age.
Unfortunately, leading a sedentary lifestyle, something that most of us are guilty of one way or another, can contribute to the development of back pain because of increased stiffness and weakened muscles.
Folks who are sedentary also miss out on the benefits of regular physical activity, which can help strengthen the spinal column, joints and ligaments.
This is alarming news, considering that many Malaysians are bound to their desks for at least eight hours a day.
To avoid developing back pain or to find some relief for an existing condition, here are a few tips to help you take better care of your back and your spine.
1. Fix your sitting posture
Sitting in an office chair for hours at a time can cause lower back pain or exacerbate existing pain.
In addition, most people have the tendency to lean forward or slouch down in a chair, especially during a dreary day at work (which is really every day when you’re working…).
This can overstretch the spinal ligaments and strain the discs and surrounding structures in the spine.
Over time, poor sitting posture, coupled with lousy workplace ergonomics (meaning unsuitable chairs), can contribute to or cause recurrent episodes of back pain.
So whether you like it or not, mummy’s right – you need to learn to sit straight.
The best sitting position for your back is to keep it aligned against the chair back.
Avoid slouching or leaning forward. Also, keep your knees even with your hips, or slightly higher.
With proper alignment, spinal stress is diminished, along with back pain or the possibility of developing pain.
2. Maintain a healthy weight
If you are overweight, your risk of developing back pain is much greater.
This is especially true if you carry most of the extra weight around the mid-section, as this tends to pull the pelvis forward and create stress on the lower back.
The normal body mass index (BMI) range is between 18.5 and 24.9.
One is considered overweight when the BMI falls within the 25 to 29.9 range. A BMI of 30 and above is considered obese.
People who are overweight or obese may also experience sciatica and low back pain from a herniated disc or a pinched nerve caused by compensating for the excessive weight.
All in all, maintaining a healthy weight range through diet and exercise not only improves existing back pain, but it can also help prevent back problems in the future.
For example, overweight and obese people have an increased risk for osteoarthritis from carrying too much weight as they grow older.
3. Strengthen the core with exercise
Most people with back pain would benefit from stronger abdominal muscles.
Exercises that help strengthen the muscles of the back and core can help provide better support for the spine, and help improve or alleviate back pain.
This is because regular movement and exercise keep the spine healthy, flexible and strong.
Lifting weights and performing basic movements like the squat, bench and deadlift can help strengthen the core.
However, proper lifting technique is required when performing these exercises in order to move a weight safely and without pain.
The back is an area that is vulnerable to injury, especially if the core and supporting muscle groups are weak.
Thus, the importance of engaging in proper lifting techniques cannot be overlooked to protect the lower back and to ensure a more pleasant and enjoyable experience overall.
Otherwise, gentler forms of exercise like yoga, Pilates, or even walking, can also be beneficial in addressing existing back problems and preventing future ones.
4. Sleep right
The amount of sleep you get is as important as the position you sleep in.
Sleeping in a bad position or on a mattress that doesn’t provide adequate support may result in back pain.
For starters, sleeping on your stomach can cause the neck and head to twist and put undue stress on your back, so you might want to switch up your sleeping position if that’s the case.
Meanwhile, WebMD suggests for back sleepers to put pillows under their knees, and for side sleepers to place pillows between their knees to keep the spine in a neutral position, and in doing so, mitigate back pain.
5. Stop smoking
Believe it or not, lighting up may be just as bad for the back as it is for your lungs.
A study published in the American Journal of Medicine found that current and former smokers were more likely to have back pain, compared to those who have never smoked.
Elsewhere, a study done by the University of Michigan Health System in Ann Arbor in the US, also found that smokers were three times more likely to develop lower back pain than non-smokers.
This is because the nicotine in cigarette smoke thickens the walls of the blood vessels.
This may restrict blood flow through the large and small blood vessels of the lower back, and increase the amount of time for healing and recovery if you sustain a back injury.
6. Get help
Unfortunately, not all back pain can be addressed with simple core strengthening exercises or by stretching and improving flexibility.
Cases that are more severe may call for professional intervention.
For example, if you’ve been suffering from persistent back pain, it would be wise to seek help from a physical therapist, an exercise physiologist, or even a chiropractor who specialises in back care.
They will match you with the right kind of treatment plan for your condition.
In some cases, the pain may never fully be eliminated, but by taking these proactive measures to fight back pain, you can make some positive changes to improve the quality of your life, and make the bad episodes less frequent and less painful in the long run.
Source :- Star2.com