My back hurts, now what?
Over the last several weeks, have you found your everyday routines altered, plans rearranged, priorities shifted, and appointments adjusted? Each of our lives have been impacted to some degree by the COVID-19 Pandemic. Maybe you have asked yourself “what can I do to help my back pain during this time?” Over the next few weeks we will share with you simple, yet effective tools to assist in the overall health of your back.
The first tool we will discuss is spine awareness. How often do you consider your spine health when you are not experiencing pain? Our spines have unique anatomy that is incredibly flexible and strong allowing us to sit, stand, bend, twist, walk, skip, hop, run, jump, dance, and play. However, without proper awareness and care this great flexibility and strength can deteriorate. Cultivating a mindset that your spine plays an important role in everyday activity and becoming aware of how the spine allows these movements is paramount.
Your spine consists of bones, joints, muscles, ligaments, discs, nerves and spinal cord. The bones (vertebrae) in the spine house and protect your spinal cord and nerves. Between each vertebrae is a soft “shock absorber” (disc) which aids in providing space and cushioning for the exiting nerves. The small joints (facet joints) on the back of the bones help stabilize the spine. The entire spinal column is supported by muscles and ligaments that play a critical role in the stabilization and mobility of your spine.
So, what is spine awareness and what are some tools to aid in maintaining a healthy back?
- Spine awareness is becoming aware of your spine health and understanding how important your spine is for everyday movements even when you are not in pain.
- Having a conscious awareness of spinal alignment when walking, standing, lifting objects, sitting, bending, twisting.
- The goal is to create a neutral spine from the crown of the head to the tailbone.
- To maintain neutral spinal alignment keep your head directly over your shoulders, your shoulders directly over your pelvis, tighten your belly muscles by drawing your belly button toward the back of the spine, and slightly tuck the buttocks. While this new posture may feel odd in the beginning, with conscious practice it will soon feel natural.
- When lifting objects bend with the legs rather than the back. Keep the weight of the object close to your body and use the power of the large muscles of the legs and buttocks to lift the object.
- Make adjustments to your work space by sitting in a chair that supports your back with feet flat on the ground and raise your computer screen to eye level.
- Understand that your body and spine are constructed to move. Staying active with simple activities such as walking along with gentle stretching and strengthening can make a large impact on the prevention, treatment, recovery of back pain.
As we collectively adapt to these unprecedented times, remember simple adjustments to your daily routine and maintaining spine awareness can make a significant difference in your back pain and overall spine health. In the coming weeks, we will further examine the role and importance of routine gentle stretching and strengthening in relation to your spine health.