How To Prevent Low Back Pain
Something I’ve been seeing a lot of is low back pain. Getting a lot of patients that got the pain radiating down their leg, some of it to the knee, some of it to the ankle, some even into the foot. But this seems to be a big problem right now, based on the type of patients we’re seeing. So that’s what we want to address today.
What we want to go over is some of the causes, and then some prevention exercises that you could do to help prevent this. So not only preventing it in the future, but how to deal with it if you get it.
The biggest culprit nowadays is sitting posture. Sitting rounded specifically. A lot of people tell me, “Well, I’m sitting up straight.” It may look like they’re straight, and we’re going to use this as a demonstration. So normal posture in your lower back, meaning your lower back from the right side, should have a slight curve to the back of it, so you’re bent there. A lot of people, when they sit though, their spine becomes more straight, and that’s what we’re meaning by a straight back.
So it may look like from the side that you’re sitting up tall, but you’ve lost that reverse curve. That is the neutral, relaxed position of your spine. There’s so many people who are working on computers and that nowadays, sitting prolonged in those postures, it is one of the biggest culprits for why backs break down.
So Brian and I are going to demonstrate what we’re talking about.
When people sit, normally then they start getting a little bit lax and then they start slowly slouching a little bit and their back starts rounding a little bit. They’re hanging on soft tissue, and then typically they can start getting pain while they’re sitting there. Or another complaint is when they’re getting up. So when they stand, because these tissues now are a little bit looser and more lax, when you first stand, they’re not supporting you as well. Then you get pain and then people say, “I have to stand there for a minute or two, or I have to walk around a minute or too for it to start feeling better.” That’s because your back was rounded.
So the big key is, you want to sit up straight. Now, if you are not, if you don’t have a back support, here’s where I want to show you how to find this position. So sit about halfway back in the chair. What you’re going to do, you’re going to slouch, finding the end range of that bent forward position. Then you’re going to take and arch your back to the end range of this position. So you go to the two of extremes of that. So the rounding forward, the rounding back, and then after you’ve round it back, you come forward a little bit, and relax right into that posture there. This is how you want to try to sit when you are sitting with no support, meaning your back is not against the backrest.
The ideal situation is using a backrest and a lumbar support. If you don’t have that, you can make it out of a towel. They have commercial ones you can buy. But you would slide your rear all the way back against the seat. You would put this in the small of your back and lean back against it. It puts you on a slight angle back, puts your back in a neutral position, which not only helps your low back, but your neck and your shoulders, because now all these structures back here are in a relaxed position.
As good as that posture is, though, still every 30 minutes, you need to stand up five, 10, 15 seconds. Do a few back bends. If you can walk around for a few seconds, that’s even better, but at least get up, reverse the posture and sit back down.
We’ve had patients come in and say they haven’t moved out of their desk for six, seven hours. So you’re causing breakdown and you want to avoid that. If you start developing back pain, then you want to try to get that under control immediately. The longer you let it go, sometimes the harder it can be to deal with.
Back pain, a lot of times, will start in the low back. Then it can spread out to the sides or it go to one side. Then it can start traveling down. It can travel to just above the knee. It can travel to down to the ankle on the foot. It can go to the front of the thigh, down to the knee. The further that the pain travels, the worse the problem.
So one thing people get confused on is that if you’ve got any pain that’s traveling away from the midline, your first goal is you’ve got to get rid of the furthest point of the pain. So if Brian’s pain is to here, if he’s doing anything to start bringing the pain back up, he’s doing the right things and correcting it. If he does any motion, movement or activity that sends the pain down, it’s the wrong thing, he’s making the problem worse. So your first goal, you want to centralize the pain to the mid back. And even if your back hurts a little bit worse, but the pain is gone that was traveling, you’re still better. That’s what you need to keep in mind.
So in our next set of videos, we will show a series of stretches you can use to start trying to manage this. If you have further questions, contact us at fitness4lifept.com.