Published February 04, 2010 10:17
Have you ever experienced back pain? Headaches? Tingling in your leg or bottom? Have you felt weak in your back or experienced the sensation that your back is giving out?
Musculoskeletal "faults" which can lead to injuries with this type of symptoms have been directly correlated to poor posture in daily living. Posture is negatively affected by stress, limited activity, lack of knowledge, incorrect exercises, bad or unhealthy foundations at work, and many other intrinsic and extrinsic factors.Therefore, good posture and adequate, appropriate exercises can reduce the risk of movement disorders which can result in long term injuries and severe changes of the spine. The foundation of good posture is a good range of motion of the entire spine, from cervical (neck) to lumbar (low back) spine, and good strength of the muscles surrounding the spine. Specific strengthening exercises are essential for stability of the spine and static stretching exercises can be beneficial where flexibility is restricted.
Cervical spine: 7 vertebra (bones) and 6 discs with Lordosis (curve to the front)
Thoracic Spine:12 vertebra and 12 discs with Kyphosis (curve to the back)
Lumbar Spine:5 vertebra and 5 discs with Lordosis
Sacrum:a fused bone with Kyphosis, including the "os coccygis" , known as the "tail bone"of the human body
Focus on Prevention
Back pain can be prevented by avoiding unnecessary stresses and strains that are associated with activities of daily living. The back is subjected to these stressors/strains when standing, sitting, working or exercising. Care should be taken to avoid postures and positions that can lead to injuries.Consider the following recommendations in your active daily living:
When standing for long periods shift your weight or position from one foot to another or place one foot on a stool or step.Try to stand tall with a flat low back (avoid arching back by tucking bottom under) and relaxed knees.
Avoid sitting for long periods with an arched back leaning forward and/or feet up on a stool or chair in front of you. Sit on a straight-backed chair with your back positioned firmly against the back of the chair or a lumbar pillow (available at pharmacies or orthopedic stores) which will help you to keep the lordotic curve of your low back. Keep your feet flat on the floor with both knees above the level of the hips, (a small foot rest on the floor may assist you assume the ideal position).
Try not to stay in one position too long. Use a bed/mattress which is flat and firm yet comfortable. Avoid excessive stress on your spine from rotating your head excessively which occurs when sleeping on your belly. Do not lie on your back with fully extended legs-use a pillow under your knees. Ideally, sleep on your side with hips and knees bent and a pillow between your knees.A supportive water bed ormattress fits body curves equally and decreases abnormal pressures.
·Lifting and Carrying:
Proper lifting techniques can minimize the chance of a lumbar spine injury:
To lift an object, face it, stay close to it, tighten your abdominal (belly) muscles and bend through your hips and knees, not your waist!
While carrying an object keep it centered close to your body at waist level. Avoid carrying to one side, but if you have to, make sure that you change the sides frequently.
Get to the Core
Core stabilization, dynamic abdominal bracing and maintaining a neutral position are techniques that can be used to increase the stability of your spine. This stability helps you maintain the spine in a comfortable and acceptable mechanical position while protecting the structures in the back from further damage.Good abdominal muscle control gives you the ability to stabilize your trunk and control your posture.
Performing the following exercises daily will help your postural control in your active daily living!
!Caution! If you have back or leg pain, or experience a change of sensation in your back or legs, consult your Physician for a clinical assessment before beginning any exercise program. If you have a diagnosed back injury, get a specific training and strengthening program from a certified Physical Therapist or Athletic Trainer!
1) Back Flattening - Core Stability
• Stand tall with the feet shoulder width apart and approx 8-10 cm (4 inches) away from the wall
• Keep shoulder blades and buttocks against the wall during this exercise
• you focused on steady breathing (in through nose and out through slightly opened lips)
• If the low back cannot reach the wall move the feet further out from the wall and slightly bend the knees, then flatten the low back onto the wall and slowly straighten the knees while keeping the back on the wall
• As you improve move the feet closer to the wall
2) Sit to Stand - Core Stability
• Sit tall at the edge of a seat with your back in a neutral position (keeping the natural curves of spine).
• The shoulders are directly over the pelvis and your feet are apart and supported on the floor
• Keeping the back straight at all times
• Keep the head and chest up
• If you need extra support place your hands on the seat or arm rest
• Shift your weight through the feet, engage buttocks and thigh muscles to stand up
3) Piriformis/Buttock Stretching
• Lie on your back
• To stretch the left Piriformis muscle, grasp the left knee with the left hand and the left ankle with the right hand.
• Pull the left knee and ankle toward the right shoulder creating a hip rotation. You should feel a "comfortable" stretch in the left buttock
• Hold this position for 10 seconds, relax and repeat. Switch to stretch your right Piriformis muscle
4) Iliopsoas/Hip Flexor Stretching
• Sit at the edge of a table or high bed, lie back onto the table bringing BOTH knees up
• Grab and hold one knee toward your chest to support your back on the table
• Do not pull the tail bone off the table
• Slowly lower the unsupported leg toward the floor allowing it to hang in a relaxed position
• Hold this position 20 to 30 seconds then switch legs. Repeat twice on each side.
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