We all do! — Whether we have a healthy back or a problem with our back. In order for your back to stay healthy and less prone to injury, you need strong, flexible muscles to support the spine’s natural curves. On February 20th from 6:00 – 7:00 PM Debbie Lenihan, PT from Physical Therapy at Jefferson Valley will talk about Back Pain: B.E.T. Principles of Movement.
In the meantime, if you are not able to attend here is what you should know if you are currently experiencing back discomfort:
Why all the fuss about back problems?
Statistics have shown that backaches are second only to the common cold as a cause of missed workdays. It’s estimated that 8 out of 10 Americans will have a back problem at some time in their lives. A large part of this is due to the neglect of their backs.
Back disorders are the accumulation of months or even years of poor posture, faulty body mechanics, stressful living and working habits, loss of flexibility as general lack of physical fitness.
A balanced back is a healthy back
It is time to take a new look at the prevention of back injuries rather than the treatment of back problems after they have occurred.
Back problems can be avoided by understanding what the problems are, how to prevent them and what to do if they do occur. It involves self-responsibility and a desire to have a healthy back.
In order for your back to be healthy, there are three natural curves that must be in balanced alignment. This should occur at all times i.e., sitting, standing, lying down or moving. These curves are the cervical (neck), thoracic (middle back), and lumbar (lower back).
When your ear, shoulder, and hips line up straight, then the three curves are balanced and you have achieved “good posture”. To test whether your curves are in their natural alignment, imagine a line beside the mid-part of your body. If your ears, shoulders, pelvis, knees and ankles line up on this line (plumb line), your three curves are in their correct position. In order to maintain a balanced back you must also have strong and flexible muscles and joints:
Here are some additional tips that may prevent low back pain or its recurrence:
1) Always bend with the knees, not from the waist when lifting
2) When sitting, place at least one knee higher than your hips; either by crossing your legs or putting your legs with knees bent, on something like a foot stool
3) When standing place one foot on a stool to keep the back straight
4) Standing is better than sitting, and lying down is better than either; sitting puts 40% more pressure on the discs than standing and 75% more than lying.
5) When driving adjust the seat so you can sit closer to the pedals with the knees bent and back supported.
6) Avoid exercises that put excessive strain on the lower back. These include straight leg exercise such as leg raises, toe touching, or sit-ups with the legs straight on floor.
For those individuals that suffer from prolonged back pain, the first goal of physical therapy is to reduce pain. The next step is to determine which muscles are tight and need to be stretched and which muscle groups are weak and could be strengthened. An evaluation of the individual postural and work habits should then follow. Based on all this information, corrective measures, which are tailored to the individual, can then be recommended. Some suggestions may include changing the type of chair used at work, taking exercise breaks to stretch tight muscles and finding ways to handle stress. Other physical therapy measures can consist of any one of a combination of moist heat, ice, electrical modalities, aquatic therapy, soft tissue massage, mobilization, stretching and gradual strengthening exercises.
For more information on this topic contact Physical Therapy at Briarcliff at (914) 762-2222; or Physical Therapy at Jefferson Valley (914) 245-8807 for a free 15 minute screening. Also check out on our website free classes that are offered at Club Fit www.ptrehab.com.