More than 31 million Americans suffer from low back pain, and they spend more than $50 billion trying to solve it. With multiple anatomical reasons things can go awry in your lower back, it’s no surprise that the pain is so prevalent. Your lower back houses numerous ligaments, tendons, nerves, muscles, bones, discs, and joints that have a big job to do, and if any one of them becomes weak or damaged, your whole body pays the price.
And we should know — at Peninsula RSI Chiropractic Wellness Center in Redwood City, California, Dr. Dana Robinson and our team see hundreds of patients who suffer from some of the most common back conditions, including spinal stenosis, herniated discs, degenerative disc disease, thickened ligaments, and osteoarthritis.
We offer a wide variety of treatments to alleviate your lower back pain, but we’d much rather help you avoid it altogether when possible. Here are some ways to sidestep an aching back.
Stop the stress
When we say you should monitor and lower your stress to avoid back pain, we’re talking about two different kinds of stress.
When you live and work under high-stress conditions — constant deadlines, a demanding boss, financial problems, volatile relationships — your body produces an ongoing supply of hormones called cortisol, which keeps your body in a constant state of tension. When your back muscles are tight, they are easy to strain. Stress can also cause general soreness and spasms. So, lowering your stress level can help prevent low back pain.
Your back has enough to do all day without you adding extra stress to the muscles and joints in your spine. Even the simplest tasks can be the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back. For example, household chores like vacuuming or gardening can tweak your back in such a way as to put too much stress on your spinal joints.
Carrying extra weight also adds to the problem of pressure on your lower back, so losing a few pounds can make a big difference.
Learn to lift the right way
Whether you lift heavy boxes for a living or you only occasionally hoist a bulky item, if you lift it the wrong way — and many people do — you can easily throw your back out. Pay attention to all the lifting you do every day, including carrying your baby or child, loading and unloading groceries, and picking things up off the floor. Whatever the item, follow these guidelines:
- Bend your knees, not your back
- Don’t twist while lifting
- Keep the object close to your body
- Make sure your spine stays straight
Remembering these lifting tips can safeguard your back.
A weak back is a vulnerable back. But it’s not just about strengthening the muscles around your spine; to maintain a pain-free back, you need to engage your whole core. That means you need to strengthen all the muscles that support your back, including your abdominal muscles and every muscle in your trunk and pelvis.
Good posture is critical for a healthy back and a healthy body, but with so many of us spending all day at a desk, it’s easy to let our shoulders and head slump forward. Poor posture puts a lot of stress on your vertebrae and leads to back pain, so it’s a good idea to invest in a good ergonomic chair that helps you sit correctly and makes it easy to type without losing proper form.
Any position you maintain for too long can put your back at risk. So, whether you’re working in the yard, sitting at a computer, driving, or standing, schedule in some regular breaks. Take some time to gently bend and stretch to promote good blood flow and release tension from your muscles.
What to do when back pain hits
Despite your best efforts, you may find that you end up with a sore back anyway, and that’s where we come in. For minor muscle soreness, you may be able to treat it successfully at home with ice and heat and ibuprofen.
However, some back pain stems from structural problems, such as spinal misalignment, muscle spasms, trigger points, disc issues, and damaged ligaments. In these cases, we can treat you accordingly with chiropractic care, soft tissue treatments, massage therapy, exercise, rehabilitation therapy, and posture correction.
If your back hurts, don’t ignore it — get help. Schedule an appointment by calling our friendly staff or booking online today.