As the most common form of back pain and the leading cause of worldwide disability, lower back pain is something very few people aren’t personally familiar with on some level. Though some instances of lower back pain have underlying causes, such as a herniated disc, most occurrences are due to muscle strain that can be prevented. Santa Monica spine surgeons have a few tips to help you prevent lower back pain.
1. Strengthen Your Core Muscles
Flexors (abdominal and iliopsoas muscles) and paraspinal (side) muscles provide essential support to your spine. Keeping such muscles strong can increase the flow of nutrients to your back and provide added support as you move. Core strengthening exercises include:
- Abdominal crunches
- Knee-to-chest exercises
- Oblique reaches
If you have a history of back pain, avoid exercises with excessive twists or bends.
2. Watch Your Posture
Changing the natural alignment of your spine can place extra weight on muscles and joints. Routinely shift your sitting or standing positions and consider ergonomically designed chairs or adjustable sitting-to-standing desks. You can further enhance your posture by:
- Wearing comfortable shoes
- Taking breaks to walk around and stretch
- Minimizing the weight of backpacks and purses
3. Maintain a Healthy Weight
Excessive weight can make the muscles supporting your lower back work harder. Work with your doctor or a dietician to develop a diet plan specific to your needs. A healthy weight can also be maintained by:
- Eating more fruits and vegetables
- Avoiding unhealthy fats and sugary foods
- Getting regular exercise
4. Be Careful When Lifting
Lifting by bending forward places all of the weight on your spine. Instead, squat down as you bend your knees and hips and keep what you’re lifting close to your body. Don’t lift anything heavy above shoulder level, and get help for anything that’s too awkward to carry.
The lowest two segments of your spine (L4-L5 and L5-S1) are the most vulnerable to injury, although lower back pain can have many contributing factors. Treatment for lower back pain may include a little rest, the use of over-the-counter or prescription meds, the application of heat or ice, and chiropractic manipulation to ease muscle tension. In severe cases, you might want to consider minimally invasive surgery.
For additional tips to prevent lower back pain, get in touch with The Spine Institute Center. We specialize in spinal fusion alternatives and the decompression surgery Santa Monica residents claim has helped them lead a pain-free life. Call our office today at 310-828-7757 to schedule an appointment.