Thursday, October 23, 2008
pain is one of the most frequent problems treated by orthopedic surgeons. Four
out of five adults will experience significant lower back pain sometime during
their lives. After the common cold, problems caused by the lower back are the
most frequent cause of lost workdays in adults under the age of 45. There are
many causes for lower back pain, and many of those conditions need medical
attention. However, therapeutic massage has generally been accepted as a non-invasive
alternative. But massage alone will do little if the recipients do little to
become proactive in good back health. These 7 steps are a minimum that each
person should do to keep in top shape, and they can be remembered by the
Maintain a Balanced Diet
I was once
told that if we all ate the right foods our health insurance cost would go down
and the vitamin companies would go out of business. Unless you have a
compromised metabolism, nature provides all the necessary vitamins, nutrients
and energy required. At a minimum your diet should include a heavy veggie group
with plenty of the dark green stuff, a protein group that is lean, and a starch
group. Your body draws most of its operating energy from the starch group.
However, unless you are in training mode your body will rarely need as much
energy as you may think. A good rule of thumb for staying healthy is to eat a
fist-sized amount of cooked food from the protein and starch groups and/or two
fist-sized servings of raw veggies 3-6 times a day.
I know that
somewhere on this planet someone made a recommendation that we should drink 8
cups, or about 64 ounces, of water each day. This is a great idea but you can’t
really walk around all day with a measuring cup! If you really want to know how
much water to drink, check your urine color. If it is slightly yellow you are
on track. If it’s gold you are not drinking enough water. Simple, right? The
great thing about water is that, unlike food, if your body can’t use it, it just
gets rid of it. Again, this works for most of the population. If your body is
compromised by disease or illness this method may not be the best approach.
is one of those cheap yet effective ways to keep your back as well as the rest
of your body limber and ready for action. If you do not stretch, your back
muscles tend to get a little shorter and as such will start to cause pain. Like
a rubber band, the muscles contract more forcefully and with greater efficiency
if they are often pre-stretched. If you like the rubber band analogy, think of
a rubber band on a cold day. If it is not stretched a few times before it is
ready to work, it will more than likely snap when put under tension. Your back
will do the same except that rather than snapping it will simply “go out” – and
there goes your weekend!
that fit well.
are your base of support whether you are walking or standing still, and
everyone knows that a wider, flatter base is more stable than a narrow tilted
one. So it is no wonder that we all have back problems after wearing shoes that
are too narrow or with a tilt provided by high heels. As a general rule, shoes
should provide a wide toe box for the toes to spread. A heel no taller than an
inch and a half is also recommended. Granted most shoes that fit this model in
the past were not the most fashionable, but shoe design has come a long way in
the last 20 years. Chances are there are plenty of shoes out there that can
easily accommodate this format. Furthermore, never shop for shoes early in the
day. Your feet swell later in the afternoon, therefore proper fitting should
occur after you have been on your feet for some time.
Use Proper Alignment
allows the body time to rest and repair itself after the action of the previous
day. A minimum of 6-8 hours a day is best. If you have trouble sleeping for
that long, try to stay in bed for at least 6-8 hours even if you are not
sleeping because your body is making repairs. How you sleep is also quite
important. If you sleep on your side, a pillow in between your legs will make a
world of difference in the morning. Pillows should only be used to keep the
head in alignment with the rest of the spine. Excessive fluffiness may cause
long-term pain in your neck and will therefore affect the rest of your back.
muscle groups in the body, the back muscles get stronger when you work them.
The erector spine group, like the name implies, keeps the spine erect. Sitting
up straight is a sure way to keep your spine erect until you decide it’s time
to depart this earth. If you have not sat up straight for some time, start
sitting up consciously for about five minutes at a time. Then start adding
another minute on to this each week and before long you will find that sitting
up straight will be no more complicated than taking walk or reading a book.
Exercise no less than 3 times a weeks
the cheapest form of medicine ever discovered. It costs nothing but time and
commitment. It provides a host of benefits including better adaptation to
stress, better sleep patterns, improved bone strength and skin tone, improved
circulation, and all the other stuff that you already know that exercise does.
However if you want to help keep the low back in tiptop shape, get strong abs.
Not abs of steel – just strong abs. The abdominal muscles along with the back
muscles provide a stable back for the trunk. If the abs are weak then the brunt
of the work falls on the back, and like all other muscles they get fatigued
from overwork. This is one of the reasons why mothers in the last few month of
pregnancy have back pain. The growing child causes the abdominal muscle group
to become ineffective at assisting the back in providing a stable base. In a nutshell
abs exercised often along with other parts of the body will keep it healthy. As
a note of caution, if your back has been compromised by injury please seek out
the assistance of a doctor familiar with helping people with back pain through
exercise. The worst thing you can do in most cases is to overmedicate and
under-exercise your back because this combination will exacerbate the problem.