6 Tips to Protect Your Lower Back

Lower back pain is a shared affliction around the world, especially in the United States, with about 80% of the population suffering from it at some point in their lives. 

It can take the form of sciatica, a pain that starts in your lower back and runs down your leg, or it might be the result of a chronic condition such as degenerative disc disease. Others suffer from lower back pain due to injuries from a traumatic accident.

The spinal area of your lower back is called the lumbar spine, and since it supports most of your body weight, it plays a critical role in your being able to perform movement smoothly and comfortably, from sitting and walking to playing tennis and dancing. 

At Empire Physical Therapy & Athletic Rehabilitation, we employ diverse treatment methods in a complementary way to address low back pain, from passive treatments such as heat and cold therapy to active ones, like therapeutic exercises and stretches. 

Paul LaRosa, MS, PT, and Billy Reilly, MS, PT, lead a team dedicated to not only treating your pain, but educating you about how to do everything in your power to prevent it in the first place.

Based on our extensive experience helping our patients, we’ve developed a primer on the top six suggestions for things that you can do to keep your lower back in tiptop shape.

Don’t be afraid to be “EC” (ergonomically correct) 

Your office is the place your low back pain can start. If you sit most of the day, contort your body in front of a computer screen, and don’t have a smart setup, you’re at risk.  

Set your office up to avoid low back pain by sitting and standing throughout your workday, taking periodic breaks to walk around, and ensuring that the top of your computer screen is at eye level so you’re not looking up or down for extended periods. 

Specially designed ergonomic office chairs help too, because they offer more lumbar support than a standard office chair.

Embrace wearing the right footwear

Throw out those stilettos. We’re sorry, but high heels contribute to low back pain by pulling your muscles and ligaments out of alignment. Once your body’s equilibrium is disrupted, low back pain often follows. 

This doesn’t mean you’re relegated to a life of only sensible shoes, which might lack in the style department. Simply look for shoes that fit properly, offer plenty of room for your toes, and aren’t too high. 

Shoes with good arches are helpful because they offer support that takes pressure off your lower back. You might want to make your shoes even more back-friendly by using inserts or prescription orthotics.

Grab some zzz’s — the right way

High quality rest is important for the optimum functioning of your entire body, which of course includes your lower back. Your favored sleep position and what you choose to sleep on factor into your comfort.

 

We advise sleeping on a firm to medium-firm mattress. You can sleep on your side or back, but whichever position you choose, use pillows strategically. Put one under your knees if you’re a back sleeper or one between your knees if you’re a side sleeper. Avoid sleeping on your stomach. 

Keep moving

The negative effects of a sedentary lifestyle are well-documented. Failing to prioritize daily exercise does a job on your overall health, from upping your risk of diabetes and heart disease to making you more susceptible to conditions that contribute to lower back pain. 

You don’t need to conquer the sports world, but just find something you love to do. It's OK if you’re not a natural jock — walking, cycling, gardening, and even cleaning all count.

Be a member of the safe lifting club

Jerking a heavy object awkwardly to pick it up puts your lower back at risk. When lifting something heavy, use your legs and keep what you’re lifting as close to your body as possible. Avoid twisting, tool. 

Cultivate a healthy lifestyle

In addition to getting daily exercise, strive to eat a healthy diet that includes a variety of  nutrient-dense foods. Don’t smoke, and watch your alcohol intake. 

Excess weight is the archenemy of your lower back, as extra poundage puts undue stress on your lumbar area. This can get your lower back out of whack, so back health is another reason to maintain a healthy weight.

Armed with this knowledge, you can significantly reduce your risk for low back pain, but if you  struggle with pain, we’re here to help with innovative therapies. Call our office today to schedule an appointment, or book one here.

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