Here’s the bad news: low back pain (LBP) is one of the most common orthopedic problems in America, making it the most frequent diagnosis I see as a physical therapist. But if you’re one of the many sufferers, here’s the good news: a majority of cases can be prevented by making basic changes to the way you sit and move.
Every day, we drive long distances to work, sit at a computer, lift objects from the ground, and do chores around the house that cause our spines to bend forward thousands of times a day. Rarely do our spines ever bend backward. This frequent bending puts pressure on the discs in our spine and eventually can cause numerous problems. Here are three simple ways to help.
1. Grab a towel, roll it up and place it in the curve of your lower back, just above your belt line as you sit all the way back in your chair. Do this whenever you sit for an extended period of time.
2. Bend backward: For those of you who sit or bend forward frequently, stand, put your hands on your hips, keep your knees straight and bend backward 10 times. This exercise should feel like a stretch and never should cause or increase any pain. If there is pain, do not complete the exercise. Try this once every 30 minutes any time you sit for long periods
3. Use your power muscles. When you do anything that requires frequent or heavy lifting, do not bend from the spine. Instead, spread your feet apart and bend from your hips and knees, making sure to keep an arch in your spine.
These tips cannot resolve all forms of LBP but should prevent the problems I see every day. If you suffer from LBP, call a physical therapist for help. Physical therapy has been shown to be an effective method of treating LBP and decreasing the overall cost of health care.