View Full Version : 5 things to know about back pain!

27-10-05, 03:45
Well Being

5 things to know about back pain

Keep your back healthy with nutrition tips and strengthening exercises.

By Pam Harrison

It happens to almost every adult on the planet. You bend to retrieve something off the floor and suddenly a stabbing pain in the small of your lower back, where your lumbar vertebrae are located, tells you you've done something terribly wrong. "At least 80 per cent of people, if not more, will get a backache at some point in their lifetime," confirms Cathy Christie, a physiotherapist with Doug Christie Physiotherapy in Winnipeg.

Here's what you need to know about lower back pain.

1. Symptoms can vary from mild to almost disabling.
You may suffer a mere nagging muscle ache, but you may also be among those unfortunate enough to get shooting or stabbing pains or muscle spasms up your back. Some people have such severe back pain that they're unable to stand straight or rotate their back. Most people (80 to 90 per cent) recover from the back injury that has caused the pain within four to six weeks, says Dr. Jill Hayden, a research fellow at the Institute for Work and Health in Toronto.

2. It's usually many minor mis-movements over time that cause lower back pain.
The wrong motion done often enough is the main cause of lower back pain. "Most often people develop lower back pain by recurrent minor strains to their back," says Christie. A poor setup at your desk where you're constantly twisting your back to look at the monitor or turning to acknowledge coworkers at the office door is a prime example. "Lifting things is also hazardous for your back, but it doesn't have to be a one-time, single lift that does it; it can just be picking things up repeatedly over the years and bending down the wrong way to do it," she adds. If you're not bending your knees to pick things up off the floor and holding whatever you've retrieved close to your body, you're doing it wrong.

3. Bed rest is the worst thing to do for an injured back.
"When someone has an episode of lower back pain, bed rest predisposes her to the condition becoming chronic," says Hayden. Instead, she recommends that, as much as possible, people stay active, keep going to work and maintain daily activity levels. These sentiments have been echoed by public health officials in Australia, as well as by those in Alberta, where the slogan Back Pain - Don't Take It Lying Down helps raise awareness of what not to do when you injure your back.

4. Back pain essentially gets better on its own.
Apart from staying active, there isn't much you can do to hasten recovery after you've injured your lower back. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs may reduce pain and inflammation, and spinal manipulation (chiropractic treatment) can be effective in the short term, says Hayden. Using heat or ice to alleviate back pain is a matter of preference, although Christie advocates ice during the first few days after the injury. Muscle relaxants have not been proven effective by legitimate research. "When you first injure your back, you have to pamper it a bit and be careful of what you do; pay attention to how you get out of bed, how you get up and down from the chair and how much time you spend sitting," says Christie. "But when your back is a bit better, it's time to start your exercise program again."

5. Core strength is critical to prevent lower back pain.
To keep your back healthy, your fitness program should include stretching muscles in the back of the thigh and in the hips and back. You also need good posture. For this you need to keep the truncal region stable when you bend over, pick things up off the floor, stand, sit and walk. Truncal strength can be achieved through a variety of exercises, but evidence now suggests that both yoga and Pilates work wonders for improving core strength and flexibility.

1. What you need to know about back pain

2. Habits that cause back pain PLUS some more resources


Body Basic: Lying Back Extension

Exercises to help prevent back pain

27-10-05, 03:47
Body Basic: Lying Back Extension

Strengthen your back and improve your posture with this easy exercise.

By Maureen Hagan


Photography by Geoff George

If you're like most people these days, you probably use a computer and spend the majority of your day moving less and sitting more. Prolonged sitting and poor posture can weaken your erector spinal muscles, which start at the base of your skull and run along the entire length of your spine to your pelvis, and increase your risk of back injury.

When the erector spinals are strong, your spine stays properly aligned along its natural curves and keeps you from hunching over. When they're weak, the other structures in your spine, including the vertebral discs (the fluid-filled pads between the vertebrae), ligaments and other muscles, have to work harder to compensate for them when you move your back. Keeping them strong relieves this burden.

The lying back extension targets the erector spinals and is a favourite of physiotherapists. Doing this exercise daily will not only reduce your risk of injury, but will also allow you to sit and stand taller and for longer periods of time without fatigue. You'll also find your energy level increases as your posture improves.

If you don't have a stability ball or prefer to start without one, lie face down on a mat or the floor and do this exercise as directed. Performing it while lying on a stability ball requires greater balance, stability and strength in the back muscles, and works your hip and leg muscles at the same time.

Lying Back Extension
1. Lie face down on a stability ball, draping your hips, stomach and rib cage over the top. Extend and straighten your legs and place your toes on the floor about hip-distance apart. Keep your arms alongside your body with your palms facing in toward your legs.

2. Tuck your chin in, pulling your shoulders down and away from your ears. Beginning with the back of your head, exhale as you lift your chest up and away from the ball. Lift your back as if you were creating a letter "C" with your spine. Look forward as you reach your fingers toward your heels and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Pause at the top and inhale (see image).

3. Exhale as you lower slowly to the starting position. Remember to breathe and allow your breathing to set the pace.

Repetitions and sets
Do 10 repetitions at least every other day -- daily if you're able. As you get stronger, work up to three sets of repetitions. If you want more of a challenge, move your feet in closer together.

27-10-05, 03:48
Exercises to help prevent back pain

A series of exercises to help strengthen and better utilize this overused and underdeveloped body part.
By Farhan Dhalla. BHSc. PT and BSc. Bio.


Lower back pain is one of the leading causes of visits to physicians and a loss of time at work. The best defence against back pain is prevention. Strengthening the muscles that help stabilize the lumbar spine is key to having a pain-free functioning back.

Outer versus Inner

There are two layers of muscle groups that formulate the muscles of the core. The first is referred to as the "outer layer." These sets of muscles are responsible for the overall movement of the spine. They are the ones that flex, extend, side bend and rotate our trunk. The "inner layer" consists of muscles that stabilize the spine. The critical mistake that is often made is that the "outer layer" tends to be the primary focus of back strengthening exercises. The result is an over trained outer layer and under trained inner layer. The main problem lies in having weak stabilizers and therefore it's the inner layer that needs to be addressed.

The muscles of the inner layer are recruited by performing what's called abdominal hollowing. Think of drawing your navel in and upward, away from the waistband of your pants as though someone is slowly doing the Heimlich manoeuvre on you.

The result should feel like a tightening of the muscles around the back and abdomen. Maintain this position while performing the exercises as described below.

1. Dead Lift
Standing with feet shoulder width, bend forward at the crease of your waist until your upper body is parallel to the floor. Hold for a few seconds and return upright. Perform 5-10 repetitions.

Keep your spine in neutral by maintaining your spine's inward curve in your lower back as you bend forward.
Keep your shoulder blades together by imagining that you are holding a tennis ball between them.

Repeat the exercise holding onto dumbbells.
Repeat the exercise on your right foot as you extend your left leg. Repeat again with the other leg.

2. Kneeling Hinge
Start with spine in neutral position in kneeling position. Hinge backwards keeping your arms in front of the body for counter balance and then return to vertical. Perform 5-10 repetitions.

Imagine a steel rod going through the spine as you hinge. Don't let the steel rod bend.
Keep a mat under your knees to prevent any discomfort.

Reach right hand to right foot as you hinge back. Repeat left hand to left foot.
Reach right hand to left foot as you hinge back (more advanced). Repeat left hand to right foot.
Add resistance by holding a dumbbell as you hinge and rotate.

3. Side-lying Bridge
Lie on side with right elbow directly under right shoulder, knees and hips are directly stacked and knees at 90 degrees. Scoop and lift bottom ribs off the floor and rest on right elbow and bottom leg. Hold for 5-10 seconds. Perform 5-10 repetitions on both sides.

Imagine a straight line that bisects the shoulder, hips and knees. Maintain this line throughout the exercise.
Maintain a long line of distance between the bottom shoulder and ear (avoid shrugging the shoulder).

Repeat exercise with legs straight and scissored.