Pain in the lower back, lumbago, sciatica or even a slipped disk – one in every three Americans complains of back pain at least once a year.
The back is one of the most important parts of the human skeleton – it gives the body stability. The spine is a small masterpiece that is composed of elastic and stable components: the cervical, thoracic and lumbar vertebrae, the sacral bone and the coccyx. The vertebral bodies encase the spinal cord in the vertebral canal and the intervertebral disks between the vertebral bodies function as shock absorbers in the spine.
PRECAUTIONS AGAINST BACK PAIN
If you have back pain, it can really restrict what you do. That’s why a back-friendly lifestyle is so important: if you want to look after your back, you need to lead an active lifestyle and keep moving. This is the best form of prevention – if you become too sedentary, you are opening the door to back pain. Even if the symptoms are already present, an active lifestyle is the best form of therapy.
RULES FOR A HEALTHY BACK:
- Exercise every day.
- Make sure you sit up straight with a good dynamic posture and frequently change your sitting position.
- Avoid working in a stooped position whenever possible.
- Whether you’re sitting in an office chair, bicycle saddle or in your car, or are using an ironing board, make sure it is properly adjusted.
- Your bed frame, mattress and pillow should all be tailored to your sleeping position, height and weight.
- Always keep your back straight when crouching down and use the power of your legs to protect your back.
- Distribute heavy loads evenly and carry them close to your body.
- Keep your weight down.
THE RIGHT MOVEMENT FOR YOUR BACK AND SPINE
A trained back is the best way to prevent back pain because the many layers of muscles support and relieve the spine and keep the back mobile. As a result, minor inappropriate mechanical stresses – which nobody can completely avoid in everyday life – are not a problem. A solid “corset” of muscles stabilizes the back, meaning that an incorrect movement will not immediately lead to lumbago. When training your back, you don’t have to get it into peak physical condition. What’s more important is regular movement: going for a walk, leaving the car at home and cycling instead, climbing the stairs instead of using the elevator – even just these small steps lay a strong foundation. And those that also regularly play a sport that they enjoy will soon see off those back twinges. This can be a weekly walk with a friend, a yoga class, a session in a gym or a brisk daily walk with a four-legged friend. The main thing is to stay active and keep moving.
HOW TO PROTECT YOUR BACK WHEN YOU WORK IN AN OFFICE
Because movement is so important, it is essential for those who sit at their desks all day to move around over the course of the day. Standing up now and then and having a good stretch is just as crucial as frequently changing your sitting position. Every movement is beneficial and relieves the intervertebral disks, because they are stimulated by movement. This therefore improves their nutrient supply because when there is a reduction in pressure, the “shock absorbers” between the vertebral bodies draw in nutrients from the neighboring tissues, and when pressure is applied, they release the used nutritive fluid. Of course, relief mainly occurs at night. As the body ages it becomes particularly important to strike a balance because our intervertebral disks’ ability to regenerate decreases as we get older.
FIVE RULES FOR SITTING DYNAMICALLY:
- Sit up straight and make sure that your pelvis, chest and head are in line. The office chair should therefore be adjusted so that the seat is tilted slightly and that the thighs are also in a gently sloping position.
- Vary your sitting position to activate your back and to avoid one-sided inappropriate mechanical stress, for example by supporting yourself by resting your arms on the desk so you are sitting in a forward-leaning position.
- However, you should also use your chair’s backrest to lean back now and then to relieve pressure.
- Alternate your weight between your right and left buttock.
- Taking breaks from sitting is also part of dynamic sitting: stand up regularly and walk around a bit.
SEVERE BACK PAIN: WHAT TO DO?
If you have tense muscles, sciatica, lumbago or even a slipped disk, you should begin by trying to get rid of the pain through the application of heat. Heat can have a positive effect as it relaxes muscles. If you find, however, that relaxing your muscles by applying heat does not provide noticeable relief, you should always consult an expert so that anything more serious can be ruled out. Only a specialist physician can decide whether treatment with medication would be beneficial. The other important thing to remember is that bed rest and adopting a posture to help relieve pain are not the right thing to do. Often, unnatural postures that are adopted to help relieve pain can result in inappropriate mechanical stress. You should therefore try to start moving as normally as possible again as soon as you can, but take it slowly.
SUPPORT DURING BACK TRAINING
Those who choose to fight back pain with sport can also find support. There are, for example, products available that play a supporting role, thus giving a feeling of security. Through neuromuscular stabilization, the coordinative abilities are strengthened and you gain stability during movement. An active support such as LumboTrain also has a pain-relieving effect, thanks to a massage pad which exerts pressure at 26 massage points. The stimulus in the nearby tissue then actually inhibits the back pain. This hypothesis is based on the “gate control” theory.
This makes it much easier to begin the critical process of moving again and you can improve the fitness of your back so that the next wrong movement does not lead to severe pain and the inability to move or even lumbago.