In this article, learn 7 top ways/tips to protect & strengthen your low back to prevent low back injury and low back pain.
The nature has engineered your lower back in such a manner so as to provide it stability, strength and flexibility. But its complex engineering also makes it vulnerable to acquiring lots of problems. Moreover, as several nerves run through the spine and spreading into the rest of your body, a problem in the lower back can cause hip problems, low back pain, leg pain, and much more.
You can protect your lower back taking certain measures to avert direct injury, avoid indirect trauma, and rein in the further deterioration of a problem that might have already occurred.
How To Protect Low Back – 7 Top Ways/Tips
Here are 7 best tips that doctors agree can help in protecting and stabilizing your low back.
Tip # 1
Work On Strengthening Core Muscles Every Day
Strong core is necessary for the spine health because robust muscles throughout the trunk of the body can provide a sturdy & stable support to the spine. Following are the main examples of core-building exercises:
(i) Low-Impact Cardiovascular Exercises: Start with normal or brisk walking. This will help improve blood flow to your spine and also stretch muscles. Your spine needs sufficient flow of blood, which will supply the necessary healing/nourishing nutrients and hydration to the components/structures in the lower back.
(ii) Water Exercises/Therapy: It’s ideal for the people who suffer from chronic back pain and are unable to do other exercises because of pain. Water provides supportive effect due to its buoyancy and a greater range of motion, especially the exercises that involve lifting of the legs. Water also offers resistance force by means of gentle friction, leading to the conditioning and strengthening of an injured muscle.
(iii) Spine Strengthening Exercises: Here are certain stretches/exercises to strengthen your spine.
Tip # 2
Invest In An Ergonomic Office Chair
Bending/hunching forward when working at your desk puts too much stress on the discs in your lower back. This bad posture can lead to back problems, like disc degeneration and if you already have back problem it can further deteriorate. You can take following steps for supporting the natural curve in the lower spine:
(i) By using an ergonomic chair. It will support your lower back and helps align your back and thighs properly.
(ii) For additional support, consider placing a small rolled-up towel against the small of your back.
(iii) In between use a standup desk for some part of the day.
Consider setting a timer for every 30 to 60 minutes on your mobile phone to remind you to check and adjust your posture correctly, standup & walk for a few minutes, and stretch your leg & lower back muscles.
[Read: How To Choose Best Right Ergonomic Office Chair]
Tip # 3
Safeguard Your Back While Lifting An Object
Lifting is quite a frequent cause for occurrence of lower back pain. Day-to-day routine physical activities, like lifting your young child or unloading grocery bags from your car, can result in to lower back problems.
Lifting while twisting or with your back bent can inflict a sudden injury to your lower back or repetitive injury over a period of time may progress to chronic tissue damage.
Follow the following guidelines while lifting an object to avoid lower back injury & pain:
Don’t bend your lower back, rather bend at knees. Bending at your lower back is highly venerable to disc and/or ligament injury.
Hold the object close to your chest, and use your legs and knees while lifting the item.
Don’t lift from a standing position with your waist bent and/or your knees locked.
Make sure to tighten your core muscle, including the muscles in your abdomen, and try to maintain the natural curve in your lower back.
Don’t twist your back while lifting.
Always, use your leg muscles (never your back) to lift an object.
Tip # 4
Reduce Stressors During Everyday Activities
Even small amounts of stress on the components in the lower back can add up and lead to degeneration and pain over time. Here are suggestions on how to dissipate day-to-day stressing on your lower back:
Opening A Door: Stand straight in front of the door’s handle so as to pull it perpendicular towards your body while opening a door. Don’t stand on the side of the handle and twist your trunk while opening the door because this position is likely to injure spinal ligaments.
Some More Examples
Taking Heavy Objects From The Above
When you reach up for taking something from an overhead shelf, your spine stretches. Now just imagine what will happen to your spinal discs when all the weight of a bag or even an empty suitcase is thrown on them at that moment. It’s something same like collapsing a brick on a balloon. Though, your discs won’t burst, but the repercussion can be quite damaging if you repeat that action regularly.
If you have to take some heavy object from above, consider using a stool to decrease the height so as to minimize the pressure on your spine.
Washing/Cleaning The Floor
The actions involved in cleaning our houses can put great strain on our spines.
Don’t wash the floor with a floor-cloth. Use a mop or a brush instead with a long.
If using vacuum cleaner, hold it in front of your body with both hands and use small arm movements while cleaning. Never hold it on one side of your body with just one hand because it will require large arm movements and involve more twisting torque pressure on your lower spine.
Tip # 5
Rest Your Back After Prolonged Stooping Or Bending
When you bend forward or stoop for a long time like while gardening or doing other household chores, your discs and ligaments remain under tension for that period and certain changes take place. These changes last for a few minutes and the stability of your spine is compromised during this time. The joints also become temporarily stiff during this period.
Due to these tissue changes, your lower back is at the increased risk for sustaining a sudden injury if you put stress on your back soon afterward, such as lifting a heavy object immediately after you’ve been stooping/bending for a long time.
It is recommended to stand upright for a few minutes and let the spinal tissues recover and get in to their shape after such prolonged bending or stooping before you attempt any strenuous exertion.
Tip # 6
Protect Your Discs Immediately After Waking
When you wake up in the morning after a long sleep at night, the pressure within your spine discs upsurges. At this time, your spine discs are fully hydrated and are naturally at a greater risk of herniation when subject to bending or lifting forces.
It’s advisable to maintain a straight back (what ever you do – whether sit, walk or do something else) for an hour or two after waking so that your discs becomes normal and ready to withstand loads more efficiently.
Important Note: However, here are the stretches you should do in your bed as soon as you wake up in the morning to prevent stiff joints and avoid achy muscles.
Tip # 7
Do you know tight hamstrings too can lead to low back pain. Simple hamstring stretching exercise can reduce the stress on your pelvis and give relief across the low back. Certain hamstring stretches can also help ease leg pain associated with low back conditions, like sciatica.
Not all hamstring stretches are beneficial for all types of back problems. Consult your doctor or physical therapist first to find out which stretching exercises will work for your specific conditions.
Bonus Tips For Lower Back Strength & Preventing Pain
Improve your general health & overall physical fitness. It will protect & benefit your lower back health. The following are simple ways that help avert the development, flaring or chronicity the lower back pain:
Drink enough water
Minimize alcohol consumption
Get enough restorative, sound sleep
Follow anti-inflammatory diet
Avoid smoking and intake of any other form of nicotine
Managing psychological & mental stress
Include the above guidelines & tips in your every day routine to help prevent or minimize the occurrence or development of new lower back problems.
About Author: Renu Bakshi, AKA Fitness Buffhq, is ISSA Certified Personal Fitness Trainer & Nutrition Health Coach. He shares his experience and knowledge about nutrition and effective workouts to get you in the best shape of your life, no matter how old you may be. The author says: “For me age is just a number!”