Pre-disposing factors to low back pain

There are many reasons why we all get back pain. In fact, back pain is one of the highest in terms of total costs for any other condition. So, why the pain? Well, as I mentioned before – posture! posture! posture! – as well as the frequency we spend in flexion. Flexion? What’s that? Any average person spends most of their day from rising out of bed until returning back to bed spend our day in flexion. (being bent over/slouched)

Just think – what is one of the first things we do in the morning? Brush our teeth perhaps? Most of us start our day flexed over a sink performing basic hygiene. Then we proceed to getting dressed, again – being flexed to put on our pants or our socks/shoes. Perhaps you then proceed to work where you spend most of your day sitting at a desk slouched over or have a long drive in the car putting your spine in a further flexed position. I think you get the point, we are constantly forward flexed.

So what can we do about this? Well, not much. It is our nature as human beings to perform activities in this manner which is why at any given point most people have experienced back pain in their life.

Lets touch on posture. Everyone wants to preach about it however no one is able to maintain a perfect posture. Why’s that? Well there’s this fancy term called neural inhibition which means after about 20 minutes our postural muscles shut off causing us to slouch. It’s not about not having the strength within us to maintain a correct posture it’s about having lack of endurance to do so. Long story short, by being in bad posture we put much stress on our ligaments and joints in our spine which is why most of us experience pain while sitting for prolonged periods.

So how can we help improve posture? You all have probably seen a lumbar roll before..if not check out this picture- you can buy one at any drug store

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If used correctly by placing one of these at your low back (an inch above or below waist line, whatever is comfortable for you) while sitting it will actually cause correction throughout your lumbar, thoracic and cervical spine removing stress of being flexed throughout the spine. It is also recommended if you are spent sitting most of your day to stand up, place your hands on your hips, and bend backwards (extend) a few times. It helps get the spine out of the flexed position to relieve postural stresses.

Standing Back Bends

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I truly hope you all can take some of the basic advice I will provide about how to prevent or manage symptoms of low back pain and any other condition I will talk about in the future. Just remember, low back pain affects 50-80% of the population at any given point. Don’t let it get the best to you before it turns into something more serious!

 

All exercises are to be performed at your discretion. If you are having severe pain it is always best to get thoroughly evaluated by a doctor or physical therapist.

In memory of Robin McKenzie, founder of the McKenzie Method (MDT)

I just wanted to take a moment and credit someone who has changed my entire thinking of how I treat patients with spinal dysfunction or injury. I have had success with over 75% of patients who come in for low back/neck pain associated with or without injury. This man has left a legacy in physical therapy and will never be forgotten since his method will be practiced for years to come throughout the world. I hope he left this world peacefully and I know he will truly be missed by family and physical therapists all around the world.

To Robin:I hope you are in true peace. Thank you for your sharing your knowledge and changing the lives of physical therapists and patients who have been blessed to receive the knowledge you have provided.

Back and Neck Pain.. Arghhh!!

Do you suffer from low back or neck pain or have felt it before? Well, if you are like any of the millions of people who sit at a desk all day or have a labor intensive job I am sure you are no stranger to this. As a treating physical therapist about 75% of my case load consists of those with generalized neck or low back pain without injury. Question is, why? Well, there are a few reasons I would like to point out: posture, ergonomics in the workplace, being overweight or obese, how we use our body when performing certain activities (lifting) and the frequency we spend in flexion (bent forward). The good news is we can control all of these things to either help ease any symptoms of back or neck pain or to possibly prevent them from occurring in the first place. I will talk about them one by one in future posts…

Combining food and fitness. Advice on how to maintain a healthy lifestyle by a Physical Therapist

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