What are the high-risk times and events for your lower back? Why can you get into more trouble doing something as simple as picking up a loaf of bread from the trunk of the car, rather than doing something more challenging? What simple steps can you take to avoid injury and pain? Let’s get the answers to these questions and more.
TWO CRITICAL MOMENTS When it comes to your lower back and injury risk, there are two critical times when you need to be especially careful. One is first thing in the morning. Your back is actually swollen at that time. You are substantially taller, and the discs have extra fluid in them. A careless forward bend or twist first thing in the morning can do substantial damage to your discs or other back structures. It doesn’t seem fair that such a simple thing, bending and twisting, something you have done thousands of times before, can suddenly cause big problems.
The other critical time is after you have been sitting. Long car drives or airplane trips are especially challenging. In this case, the culprit is something called “creep.” This means that your ligaments and tendons lengthen into the position that you have been in. Think of sitting in a bent-forward position, as your legs are forward. The ligaments and tendons do not provide protection properly when they have been lengthened by creep. When you first get up from sitting, you are at risk. The longer you have been sitting, the higher the risk. If you sit more upright, with good lumbar support, you will have somewhat less risk.
HOW TO AVOID INJURY AND PAIN Don’t bend over immediately after sitting. Sitting, even in good posture, puts you at risk. The longer you end up sitting and the worse the seat is, the more at risk you are. Airlines are very risky; it’s hard to get up and move around because of the tight quarters, and the minute the plane stops, you bend over and get stuff from under the seat, or reach up and twist and lift to get your bag from the overhead compartment. After a long sit, give yourself at least a few seconds of backward bending and/or moving around to reset your spine. Then you can carefully, using your hips rather than your back, bend over to pick up something.
When you sit, don’t slump. Slumping reinforces the risks, making it more likely for something bad to happen to your discs or joints or muscles. So sit up straight and keep your back in neutral. Neutral means that you keep a bit of a lordosis (inward curve) in your lower back, keep the lumbar spine from slumping forward, stay more upright. This simple action can make a huge difference. Like any habit, this will require you to “Just Do It” for a few weeks.
Talk to your doctor about these and other high-risk moments for your lower back, and what you can do to relieve low back pain or avoid the pain altogether.
Source: To Your Health –By: Marc Heller, DC