Back pain is an extremely common ailment, it sends many people over 50 to their physicians as they try to find some relief. There are many ways to fight back pain and increase your quality of life. So, what are the numbers? The national institutes of health states that over a three-month period, about one-quarter of Americans experience a day of back pain. One day is the minimum number, but many people all over the world experience many, if not chronic, back pain. Most pain starts between 30 and 40 years of age, but it may begin earlier. According to physical therapist Eric Robertson of the American physical therapy association, back pain ranks second only after the common cold for physician visits.
But, what are some ways to reduce or eliminate back pain? Here are some simple exercises that should bring you some relief.
STRETCH YOUR GLUTES
While strengthening our abdominal muscles is a great way to assist your back, it’s important o keep your smaller muscles in mind. The gluteal muscles, or the hip muscles, include the ones that wrap around your hip and those in your buttocks.
Exercise 1: An extremely easy exercise to stretch your “gluteals” is to lie on your back, pull your knees up and attempt to touch your chest. Hold this position for 15 to 30 seconds and repeat each day two to three times. This prevents stiffness of your hips. The more movement your hips get the better they will feel.
MAKE YOUR HIPS STRONGER
Exercise 1: To strengthen your hips, you can perform a “mini-squat”. Squat to a 20-degree angle when you are around six or seven inches from a wall. This modified squat won’t put stress on your body and can be done by anyone. Most trainers recommend a 90-degree angle, but this is much harder to do and isn’t needed to strengthen your hips.
Exercise 2: Another very simple exercise: stand without using your arms. Place your body on the edge of a seat and stand up. If this is done three times throughout the day for 5 to 10 reps, your hips will strengthen greatly.
Exercise 3: Hold a counter or surface that won’t move and balance on one leg. This will level your pelvis, improve balance, and strengthen those all-important gluteal muscles.
FORGET YOUR POSTURE
Counterintuitive, but the more you worry about our posture, the most stressed out you will become. When the muscles are weak, standing up straight can only be achieved for a short amount of time, but when you strengthen your muscles, improving your posture will be much easier.
SCHEDULE LOTS OF MICRO-BREAKS
Standing up frequently is a great way to improve back pain. Sitting for a long time is not good for your back as it puts a lot of pressure on the discs of your spine and causes your gluteal, aka hip, muscles to become too relaxed. So, while you may feel quite relaxed, your back is suffering and your hips are turning into jelly.
Exercise 1: To eliminate this situation, stand up every 15 minutes, stretch the muscles in your back, take a very short walk, and then sit back down. Every hour, take a somewhat longer walk.
You’ll find you have less back pain by implementing these tiny breaks into your day.
LIFT THE RIGHT WAY
Always lift everything and everyone, including your grandchildren, the same way you’d lift heavy items.
When you lift a child: stand as close as possible, keep your back very straight, and put one front behind the other. Lower yourself onto one knee, grab the child with both of your arms, and hold him close to you. After these steps are created, tense your stomach muscles and push up using your legs into standing position. To place the child back on the floor, do these steps in reverse.
Never use your back to lift heavy items, use your legs.
WALK EVERY DAY
To get the most from your back, walking is the best thing you can do. When walking, there is little to no pressure on the spine and you are strengthening your spine, back, and hip muscles. Like walking, standing is better for you than sitting, but when you standing for too long without moving can also be stressful on your body.
If chronic back pain is your reality, walking each day could decrease your pain.
SHOVEL SNOW THE RIGHT WAY
Always avoid just walking outside and chucking snow in order to save your back. Not only does shoveling snow put a lot of pressure on your cardiovascular system when you go from inactivity to heavy activity, but it can put a real strain on your back for two reasons. Water is very heavy and the end of the shovel is far from your body. Because you are lifting this heavy water about four feet away from your body, you must work much harder to stabilize your back.
Exercise 1: It’s best to warm up before hacking at those huge piles of snow, stretch your hips with exercises mentioned earlier in this article, partially fill the shovel, and take many breaks.
A huge baby mountain of snow can be really annoying. It blocks your car from getting out and the mail person from getting in, but it’s not worth your back. Really.
Stress, in any form, and especially, chronic, tightens and shortens your muscles, which results in less support for your back. Stress also boosts your sensitivity to pain, making you feel like you are in more pain. Whether you do yoga, aerobics, relaxation exercises, or meditation, do these and lower your stress levels. Another great way to reduce pain, especially if it is recurrent, is to lower your fear of the pain itself. Fearing your back pain causes an intense amount of anticipatory stress and promotes more pain.
These are just some of the ways you can avoid and fight back pain.