Banish Your Back Pain – For Good

by admin on December 27, 2013

If you suffer from lower back pain, you are not alone. According to research, over 80% of Americans will at some point in their lives have related problems. Symptoms include discomfort in the lower back, difficulty with lifting, or impaired movement. Adults between the ages of 35 and 55 are most likely to experience the pain, so it is crucial to take preventive measures during the formative and young adult years. Eliminating back pain can seem daunting, but it is a simple, incremental process of The spine is the beam that holds us up, and each of its 24 vertebrae bears some of the burden. Keeping the body nimble and flexible can be facilitated by stretching and engaging in low-impact sports such as swimming, biking, and walking. Although regular exercise does not guarantee you will never have back pain, it strengthens the muscles and ligaments that create smooth movement. Indeed, factors including a sedentary lifestyle, a stressful job, strenuous physical work, smoking and obesity increase your risk of back pain. Managing these risks with a healthy diet and simple exercises such as crunches, pelvic tilts, and stretches can be a great preventive tool. Most exercises can be done without special equipment. Beginner yoga helps stretch out muscles and releases the tension from cramps, while Pilates isolates abdominal and back muscles that strengthen the core and back. Fifteen minutes of stretching and building muscle daily is convenient and extremely effective at preventing and ameliorating back problems.

If you are experiencing back pain, it may be due to either strain or structural problems. Strain implies you pulled a muscle or ligament while lifting something heavy, turning or standing abruptly. If a strain has occurred, do not exercise immediately. Rather, lay with your back on a flat hard surface, alternate between warming and icing the afflicted area, and rest for a few days. Prolonged pain might mean you are experiencing a structural problem, at which point you should speak with a doctor about your symptoms. They may indicate ruptured or bulging discs, sciatica, arthritis or scoliosis. For short term relief, take pain medication and avoid activities that increase discomfort. If your spine is straight and each muscle pulls its weight, you should be well on your way to recovery. Outfitting your shoes with insoles with arch support helps your posture, and aligning your shoulder blades with your hips ensures your back is straight while sitting.

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So, you’re at work, sitting at your desk, typing away. Suddenly, you feel a sharp, shooting pain radiating from your lower back down to the back of your right thigh. The pain is so bad that you stop for a moment to consider it. What was that, you think. Maybe my Zumba class was too intense? Did I stretch a ligament by walking up the steps in a weird way in my new six-inch heels?  Before you go through a litany of everyday possible causes, consider this: Sciatica. It sounds like a shiny resort near Puerto Vallarta, or a tropical rash you might have picked up in the Dominican Republic.  But it’s actually a condition due to the compression or injury of a large, spinal nerve, called the Sciatic nerve, that runs from the gluteal region (that’s the rear end in plain-speak) all the way down to your feet. Even though the nerve runs down both legs, the pain usually occurs on one side. So, why does this pain occur? Well, several factors could contribute to it. As we age, the spongy discs that support and mobilize our spine can slip and herniate causing strain to the adjacent nerves. The sciatic nerve is one of the large nerve roots in this area, which accounts for the branching pain due to displaced pressure.

And according to NYC Pilates Instructor Annette Herwander, our posture and weak abdominal muscles can contribute to this problem. “Sciatica is often caused by a tight Piriformis muscle (located under the Gluteus Maximus). It is not always from the lower back but both are probable. Weak and tight gluteal muscles and weak abdominal muscles are often the cause. Underlying this is dysfunctional hip mechanics. With the hips not moving correctly, the lower back will over mobilize.” So, according to her, our back will overcompensate for the lack of support in our muscles, which in turn creates more strain upon our muscles and nerves. So, how can we correct this pain and does it last forever?  “Depending on the severity of the pain,” she says, your doctor will prescribe physical therapy. Most often the best way to manage it is to stretch and strengthen the Piriformis muscle, the abdominals and the back.” So, the idea is to strengthen the muscles that surround the sciatic nerve, which includes the abdominals, the gluteal muscles as well as the lower back. Here are some exercises to consider, found at www.spine-health.com. The website suggests exercise and conditioning instead of bed rest because inactivity will continue to weaken the supporting structures around the nerves that run along your spine and back. The site also notes that good form is important when utilizing strengthening poses, otherwise symptoms can become aggravated and worsen. The guidance of a physical therapist is best, so they can appropriately assess and address the pain that you are experiencing.Developing Core Muscle Strength:This means your abdominals which is also called the core. Strengthening the abdominal muscles also provides proper support for your lower back.Gentle StretchingHamstring stretches are an excellent way to release the tight muscles that run along the back of your thigh. This in turn will relieve the pressure on the lower back.

Another method to consider is Lower Back Stretches in Yoga Practice: The Cobra is a back extension with your legs flat against the ground, your arms straight down to the ground and your head up which enables a deep stretch for your back. The Cat Pose is a tabletop position which places you on your hands and knees while tucking the pelvis in and then out with deep breaths. Yoga practice will gently stretch the lower back muscle area and keep the area limber. Also, your mother was right! Good posture not only makes you look good, but it’s healthy for your back. Tuck in that pelvis and pull your shoulders back.Your sciatic muscle will thank you. The aim of these exercises is to keep the abdominal, lower back and thigh area strong & supported which in turn will keep the symptoms of painful Sciatica at bay.

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