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The Low-Down on Low Back Pain

BY: Dr. Benjamin Pun

Low back pain is continuously on the rise. According to research, over 70% of us have already experienced this pain in some form or another in our lifetime. Our lower back is designed to provide stability, strength, and flexibility to out entire upper body, so it is no mystery that low back pain can sometimes feel so debilitating to our everyday routine. That persistent dull, achy and spasming sensation in your low back is no fun to deal with, but more often that not that pain can be prevented or reduced.

Here are some common ways people become victims of lower back pain.

  • Poor posture: For the majority of Americans who spend working countless hours sitting at a desk in front of a computer, poor posture is inevitable. We sit for long hours hunched over, or leaning to one side or another without ever moving.

  • Not watching your weight: The more weight you carry, the more pressure is placed on your back. This increases the risk of injuries like muscle sprains and disc herniations.

  • Too much stress: Stress not only prevents your mind from relaxing, but it also makes your body and muscles become tense leading to lower back pain. With increased stress, most people then tend to eat poorly, exercise less, and have poor sleep.

  • Overused muscles: Daily repetitive lifting of heavy objects, or working out too much without proper rest days can lead to damage of the soft tissues that support your lower spine. Ligaments, tendons and muscles can be overly stressed leading to increased pain.

Here are some things you can do to help treat and prevent that back ache.

  • Make sure your workstation is ergonomic: This can go a long way for your back. Raise your monitor up so that your eyes hit the top half of the screen as you sit up. Position your keyboard and mouse to an area so that your elbows will be naturally bent to 90 degrees when you use them. Use a lumbar support for your office chair Most importantly, take FREQUENT breaks. Get up and move at least every hour to reset your entire body

  • Exercise regularly and stay active. Not only does this help maintain weight, it can also help strengthen the muscles supporting your spine. A sedentary lifestyle of excessive hours on your computer or laying in front of a TV can cause muscles in your core and your back to shut down- which can leave you feeling stiff.

  • Eating healthy. Cut back on those daily take out lunches and stay properly hydrated. Your back will thank you.

  • Stress Relief. Seeking mental health help from a psychologist or counselor can help you cope with stress better, take breaks from social media and find a hobby that you enjoy and take your mind off your worries.

  • Cold/Heat therapy: Cold therapy like an ice pack is good for immediate injuries to reduce inflammation. Heat therapy is good for achy and sore areas to help stimulate blood flow and nutrients to those areas. You can get a heating pad from any store, an apply for 15-30 minutes at a time.

  • A good night’s sleep. Getting an adequate amount of quality sleep is important for your body to properly heal. Sleeping positions can also make a big difference for your back. Sleeping on your stomach can often lead to strain on your back. Sleeping on your side with a pillow placed between your knees can help improve the alignment of your back and pelvis and help reduce pain.

  • Stretch your hamstrings: The hamstring muscle is located on the back of your thighs. When it becomes tight, it can stress your lower back and joints leading to pain. Stretch your hamstrings at least twice per day. Click Here to see a picture on a good way to stretch those hams.

  • What about chiropractic? A Chiropractic adjustment can reduce joint restrictions or misalignments in the spine. This can reduce inflammation and improve function of both the joints and nervous system. By increasing joint mobility and improving your nervous system function, your body has the ability to better manage symptoms caused by low back pain. Chiropractic techniques can also involve helping you stretch the joints and muscles to reduce tension in the low back.

With proper care, good diet, (and a good chiropractor), you can have less painful days and more time to do those fun activities this summer!