Physical fitness is one factor that can reduce lower back pain. Pain is often caused by a lack of muscle conditioning. The core muscle group, consisting of the abdominal, pelvic, hip and lower back muscles, is responsible for supporting the spine’s alignment and the weight of the upper body. A lack of conditioning can put excess pressure on the spine and lead to a variety of medical conditions.
It is obvious to say that physical fitness is important to your health, but not everybody realizes the impact it can have on pain prevention and the health of your spine. A recent study conducted by Dr. Robert Saper in Boston confirmed that regular yoga practice helped people with chronic back pain to significantly reduce their pain over 12 weeks. His small pilot study involved 30 people with chronic back pain who were split into two groups, one that did yoga and one that continued on their normal treatment plan. The group that performed yoga had 73% overall improvement, while the other group reported only 27% improvement. The yoga group participants were also able to decrease their pain medication use by 80%.
The spine supports the upper body and absorbs the shock it endures throughout the day. The more weight the upper body carries, the more pressure is placed on the spine. The lower area of the spine, called the lumbar spine, is the most taxed.
The spine consists of vertebrae separated by discs. Discs act as cushions to allow the spine to absorb shock and maintain flexibility. When body weight exceeds the amount of cushion discs can provide, problems like disc rupture, vertebral fracture and misalignment can occur. Most of the overweight children in the above study exhibited some form of significant disc wear, something that does not commonly cause pain until people are in their 30’s or 40’s.
Given that 15-18% of children and adolescents are overweight in the U.S., it is important to understand that this could be the cause of back pain in both young and older people. See PRnewswire.com for a full summary of the study.
On top of muscle conditioning and a healthy weight, the way that we perform daily activities contributes to physical fitness. Biomechanics describes our posture, both while moving and while sitting, laying or standing.
Many American professions require sitting down for long periods of time, from office worker to driving. If the muscles of the core are not conditioned and balanced, then the spine will not be held upright in its proper position while you sit. Muscle imbalances occur when one set of muscles is more developed than the set is should be working with.
Dynamic biomechanics considers our posture and muscle usage while in motion. Many instances of lower back strain occur due to improper biomechanics. Strains result when the ligaments and muscles of the back are given too much work to do. Typical sources of strain are shopping and shoveling snow. These activities involve lifting and carrying, two actions that can wreak havoc on the back if done improperly. When performing these tasks, keep the following tips in mind:
-Shop with more than one bag. Having two or more smaller bags allows you to spread the load of your items and use many muscles rather than making one set do all the work.
-Avoid lifting while reaching or twisting. Our bodies are designed to perform physical feats while centered at our core. The core muscles balance the body and assist other muscles in lifting. If we are reaching or twisting, our muscles will not work together as intended, resulting in strain.
For an extensive video series about avoiding muscle strain and back pain caused by daily activities, visit Ehow.com.
There are many causes of lower back pain, from common daily activities to serious medical conditions. See the article at BetterMedicine.com for more information on common causes of back pain. Physical fitness includes muscle strength, a healthy weight and proper biomechanics. These traits can help you to avoid back pain.