We are honored to know that our patients consider us their first stop for treatment of their back pain. Though we receive great satisfaction from helping our patients get back on their feet after an accident or injury, chiropractic treatments are just a portion of the service we provide. We hate to see our patients suffer strains or pulled muscles while doing things they love, like gardening, tennis, or just tossing a ball with the kids in the backyard. To help you enjoy life without back pain ruining your fun, we always take time to help you understand ways to protect your back from injury. By following a few rules and developing some healthy habits, protecting your back is easy!
Healthy Back Tip #1: Warm up before you shape up!
One of the most common mistakes people make is neglecting to take time to warm up their muscles before strenuous activities. When back muscles are not prepared for lifting, throwing or bending, it’s very easy to cause strain or injury that puts you on the sidelines and leaves you wincing. Before sports or activities, like moving furniture or organizing the garage, take 5 minutes to warm up your back. To make your exercises effective, consider the types of movement you might require of your back muscles and practice those movements gently to engage the muscles. Will you be twisting and lifting? Try side bends to warm up the muscles that support your spine. Carrying heavy boxes? Trunk rotations can limber up the lower back. There are a variety of yoga exercises that can be performed while standing or lying down that help stretch and strengthen the back. Learn more about yoga by trying a beginner’s class, researching yoga poses online or renting a yoga DVD.
Healthy Back Tip #2: Practice Smart Lifting
Proper lifting technique isn’t just for weightlifters! If you buy dog food in 40 pound bags at the warehouse store or lug baskets of laundry around the house, you, too, need to know to lift heavy loads correctly:
- Bend your knees—This move protects the lower back and distributes weight to your leg muscles, which can handle a heavier load than your back can.
- Keep heavy loads centered—Carrying laundry baskets on your hip might seem like the right thing to do, but that heavy load on one side of your body can cause spinal alignment issues.
- Brace yourself—If you anticipate a day of heavy lifting, investing in a lightweight lower back support brace will help protect your lower back from overexertion.
- Cart it—Hand-truck carts and wheeled baskets can be your back’s best friend. Keeping a small, collapsible cart in your car is great for transporting packages into the post office or getting that stack of sports drinks and snacks out to the ball field on game day. Before you resort to carrying heavy loads, put safety first and load up a cart! Check your local office supply store for a selection of inexpensive, sturdy carts or hand-trucks.
Healthy Back Tip #3: Stop if it hurts
Our bodies are constantly sending us messages about what they need. Sudden back pain is a powerful message to stop what you are doing right away. If you reach or bend and feel a twinge or pull, your body is telling you something just isn’t right. Take a moment to consider why it hurts. Should you have warmed up first? Is the load too heavy for you? Are you lifting properly? Is there an easier, back-healthy way to accomplish the task? Listen to your body and pay attention to its messages. It will reward you with less sprains and strains!
Protecting your back from injury is an important part of a healthy life, and it is easy to do if you remember to warm up and practice safe movements that do not place unnecessary strain on your back muscles. Keep your back strong with exercise and good posture. Support your spine by strengthening your abdominal muscles and keeping your core strong. Visit us for regular chiropractic adjustments, even when you are pain-free, to help keep your back healthy and ready for all the fun and adventure life has to offer!
Frank Jay Lagoni, DC