Written by: Jina Nkrumah: Health Fitness Specialist
Lower Back Pain (LBP) is one of the most prevalent complaints that impact the lives of many individuals worldwide When LBP strikes, it can range from acute (< three months), to chronic (> three months) and it can interfere with an individual’s overall productivity. Common causes of lower back pain include bad posture, musculoskeletal sprains, and strains, and in severe cases, trauma (car accidents, falls, sports injuries etc.). Thankfully, here are some tips on how to live a peaceful life with LBP! Remember this fun phrase: “To keep the pain at bay, use your B-A-C-K!”
B - Bed Rest
Most individuals automatically result to inactivity when back pain strikes out of fear. Although their intentions are right, more damage can be done. Instead, aim to reduce the amount of stress placed on your back but keep moving! Studies show that individuals who maintain lower levels of activity despite the pain recover faster than individuals solely on bed rest. Afterall, if you don’t use it, you lose it.
A – Activity
Staying physically active is essential to treating and preventing LBP. If you are unsure of where to begin, start by walking 15 to 30 minutes. As time goes on increase your activity level until you return to your normal routine. In addition, incorporate moderate intensity resistance training utilizing the FITT principle. Frequency: 2-3 days per week; Intensity: moderate to vigorous (8-12reps); Type: two sets for major muscle groups; Type: exercises that target the back, abdominals, and legs. Remember, these groups work together to maintain good posture!
C - Caution
That’s right proceed with caution! Be mindful to lift with your knees when heavy lifting and use proper body mechanics when bending down. When you are seated, keep your feet flat and ankles in front of your knees, engage your core by drawing in your navel, retract your shoulders back, try to keep your knees hip level and take frequent breaks. If you can stand up and walk around for about 10 minutes, do it! Finally, be mindful to avoid high impact activities, especially if you have joint issues or severe health problems.
K – Know your body!
Our bodies have a unique way of telling us when they need help and it is our responsibility to take good care of them. Start small, (being mindful of your posture) and work your way to incorporating appropriate change into your lifestyle. Make sure to incorporate flexibility into your workout routine like Yoga and Tai Chi. They increase flexibility and reduce tension in tight muscles. Last, but not least, stretch! After physical activity, stretch for a minimum of 10 minutes and hold each stretch for 10-30 seconds, repeating it 3-4 times. Take good care of the body you have because it is the only one you get!
“To keep the pain at bay, use your B.A.C.K.!”