Hello everyone, back pain or injuries usually occur when too much pressure impairs back structures such as the discs, muscles and ligaments. Compression and tension on these structures can occur several ways:
- Lifting a heavy load in a bent and or twisted position. Generally, loads that exceed 15kg require assistance from another person or a mechanical lifting device, depending on your level of strength. If you repeatedly lift heavy loads that require body rotation or an awkward stance, the risk of overburdening back structures increases.
- Lifting or bending forward multiple times throughout a day. This type of movement can easily overload and fatigue the back-supporting muscles. In the absence of support provided by these muscles, destabilisation of the back adversely impacts other structures, such as the vertebral discs and ligaments.
- A long sustained forward bend of the back. Activities such as working over a benchtop or computer-desk, washing dishes, or gardening may require forward bending. When you bend forward, the back muscles consign to a vulnerable position, diminishing their ability to fully support your spine. Keeping your back in a neutral position — where the lumbar spine is slightly curved inwards — is the best position for working.
Seven ways to help prevent lower back pain
- Use a lumbar support. Use a rolled-up towel or small lumbar roll to maintain a good lower back position when you are sitting for prolonged periods.
- Squat and bend at the hips. Instead of bending forward at the lumbar spine ‘hinge,’ use a squatting position to lift heavy loads. This is accomplished by positioning your legs on either side of an object, squatting by bending your knees while keeping your back in a vertical position as you grasp the load.
- Reduce the number of times you bend forward each day. Change your movement habits by logging the frequency you bend forward daily. After evaluating this pattern, commit to bending less and modifying your bending posture. Additionally, you should consider reorganizing spaces where you store items at ground level. For example, shoes kept on the floor can be moved to shelves at waist or chest level.
- Avoid forward bending after a period of rest. Backs are most vulnerable to injury after a period of inactivity. After moving from a position of rest from a sitting or supine position, avoid bending forward for 30 minutes until your muscles and ligaments have readjusted.
- Protect your back by bracing your muscles. Engage your abdominal core and back muscles to create a physically stable spine prior to lifting.
- Stretch regularly at the hips. If your hips are stiff and the muscles around them are tight, they will not move efficiently. Under this condition, the lumbar spine and associated structures are recruited to facilitate movement, such as walking. This places significant pressure on the lumbar region, and often leads to back pain. By keeping the hips flexible and free, back pain may be diminished.
- Strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. Strong pelvic floor muscles help protect against lower back pain and improve core stability. Strong pelvic floor muscles also reduce the barriers to exercise and improve your confidence and wellbeing.
If you suffer from lower back pain, try introducing these preventative measures.
Let us know if they work for you, Deb.