The stats on how many people will experience back pain at least once in their lifetime are staggering. It is in the neighborhood of 90%. So, what does that tell you? Must be that our low backs are pretty vulnerable. In other words, it’s not our fault! Most of us end up with a life that sooner or later is not that great for our backs.
However, we can fight back (pun, sorry)! Here’s a few BACK FACTS and ways to keep your low back healthy that may help.
(1) There are tons of muscles involved in keeping your spine stable while you are sitting, standing, or involved in activities. A stable spine is a protected spine, meaning, the vertebrae are not slipping around or deteriorating. If you would like a quick exercise that will help you feel this, do the following:
Get on the floor or a mat on your all 4’s, with your toes curled under. Keep your spine with its natural curves, and don’t round or arch. Also, don’t sink into your shoulders. Keeping yourself in that position, lift both knees 1-3 inches off the floor an hold that position for 10-30 seconds. (Don’t forget to breathe.) You will definitely feel your muscles doing their bit to hold this position.
(2) Spine stability comes from training movement patterns rather than one specific muscle. Yes, you can strengthen your abs and other torso muscles, but concentrating on bulking up the big ones can leave the important little ones out of the picture. In addition, it actually doesn’t take that much strength to keep your spine stable. It’s more about getting everyone to work together.
One example of this would be to get out there and do some fast walking with a good arm swing going on. The arm swing and other more subtle rotations actually help your muscles “share the load”, thereby reducing things like compression and torque on your precious vertebrae. NOTE: Slow walking or “mall strolling” doesn’t cut it. In fact, that type of walking creates a shut-down of muscle activity that can create the sorts of problems that we don’t want to think about.
(3) The other feature about back health is that it requires muscle ENDURANCE more than strength. When you challenge it by staying in one position for a long time, the muscles may not be able to hang in there for you. That is when you start to get that nagging, aching, back, or maybe even something worse.
One way to combat that sort of thing is to stand up, extend your hands to the ceiling, and arch back a bit. You don’t have to overdo the arch, but arch enough to feel like you are combating any rounded back or stagnant positioning that you may have had from sitting. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat.
So there you have it. It helps to respect how your back is designed, and to train both stability and movement to keep things healthy and pain free.
Any comments or low back issues? Please leave a comment below.
Cheers, Kristen Carter
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