According to studies, Low back pain affects nearly 80% of all adults. Most low back injuries come from the following: wearing high heels (women), performing manual labor and people who sit for long periods of time (greater than 3 hrs.). Although these statistics are alarming, there are some simple steps one can take to make sure that they avoid current and future back pain or injury. These steps all involve simple exercises that can be performed from anywhere, including one’s office.
Step #1: In order to prevent further injury or a relapse, the 1st thing one should do is stretch common muscles that are tight and may have caused the lower back pain in the first place. Tight muscles are known to overwork and when this occurs, they become overactive and let us know through pain. These muscles include: erector spinae, hip flexors, calves and the lats (the big back muscles). For each stretch, you want to hold the stretch for 30-120 seconds and perform the movement for 1-2 repetitions 3-5x/week. (View Stretches: http://www.webmd.com/back-pain/living-with-low-back-pain-11/five-back-pain-stretches)
Step #2: After you have stretched the tight muscles, now it is time to focus on strengthening the muscles that are weak or underactive. Muscles become weak or underactive typically from lack of use or overuse by the muscles that assist or oppose the weak muscles. For example, if your hip flexor is tight, it could cause your glutes (butt) muscles to become weak. The muscles that tend to weak with a lower back injury include: certain core muscles, the butt and hamstrings. For each strengthening exercise, you want to perform 1-2 sets of 10-15 repetitions 3-5x/week. (View core exercise: http://www.webmd.com/back-pain/living-with-low-back-pain-11/core-strength-for-back-pain; http://www.webmd.com/back-pain/lower-back-pain-10/slideshow-exercises)
Step #3: Now that you have isolated the lower back with stretching and strengthening exercises, now it is time to focus on integrating your entire body back into exercising. Integrated exercises involve using as many muscles as possible in one given exercise. By performing integrated exercises, you will ensure that the your hip joint (which can be misaligned with low back injuries) starts and remains in the right position and the proper muscles are working as they should be. For each integrates exercise, you want to perform 1-2 sets of 10-15 repetitions 3x/week. (View integrated exercises: http://www.allthingshealing.com/Chiropractic/Corrective-Exercise-for-Back-Pain/8558#.VIoTN74zf8E)
If you follow these three simple steps, you can avoid low back pain setbacks and ensure that your back is strong enough to handle your daily activities of life.
Maurice D. Williams is a personal trainer and owner of Move Well Fitness in Bethesda, MD.