As a practicing chiropractor of 38 years, I have been able to help thousands of patients gain relief of their lower back pain. I know chiropractic care is the gold standard in providing pain relief for back conditions. Patients and I work as a team to reduce and eliminate their lower back discomfort. However, once the pain has been eliminated or improved as much as possible, it is their responsibility to continue a daily routine to manage their lower back pain. This article will discuss five important hints I give to all my patients once they have finished care in my office.
Stretch and Start Slowly In The Morning
I read a research paper many years ago that if a person is going to injure their back at work it is usually in the first hour. That makes a lot of sense, the person isn’t warmed up and subsequently hurts their back. Athletes know they must warm up before practice or a game and we should follow that advice. It is important to stretch gently in the morning.
Simply lying on our back and pulling one knee up towards the chest and holding it for five seconds then extending it out and pulling the other knee up similarly several times can be a big help. If one is familiar with yoga, they can perform a few minutes of gentle poses and stretches.
Also start activity slowly at the beginning of the day to let the back warm up. I like to take it easy the first hour after arising from bed. I don’t perform vigorous activities like strenuous exercise, home chores, gardening or grass cutting until I’ve been up and moving about gently for a couple hours.
The best exercise we can do is walking. The lower back discs, muscles and joints get the movement they need to maintain tissue health when we walk. Stand up straight, swing your arms and walk as long as you like. It’s a good idea to walk on a trail or grass field to lessen the impact on our lower extremities. The uneven surface also gently challenges and improves our balance.
In general, when lower back pain is present there is inflammation so we should use ice cold to reduce swelling and pain. Three applications of 20 minutes per day will typically bring desired relief of lower back pain. Don’t put the ice pack directly on the skin. Use a layer of cloth insulation so you are comfortable doing the entire 20-minute application.
The feet are the body’s foundation. Good mechanical foot structure and support greatly aids in lower back alignment and movement. Avoid wearing high heels. If necessary, find a qualified podiatrist to make custom shoe insert orthotics.
Sitting long hours doing desk and computer work is harmful to our spines. It is said that: “Prolonged sitting is the new smoking.” Having a proper ergonomics set up with a home or office setting is important. A good chair, desk, computer screen and keyboard height must be addressed. A set/stand desk can make a huge difference. However, remember that however ideal the aerodynamic setting, we must get up and move about periodically to counteract the deleterious effects of sitting.
Maintaining our health is a responsibility each of us must undertake. Just as a person with cardiac or diabetic problems must discipline themselves to manage their conditions, those with any degree of a chronic back pain issue must be diligent to address daily, simple, indispensable obligations. Conversely, neglecting the basics will unfortunately result in misery.
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