Self-help for a very aggravating problem that most of us will face.
Among ailments, only the common cold is more common. Over the course of our lives, four out of five of us will suffer from back pain, and more than a quarter of us will miss work because of it. Tremendous sums of money are spent on back pain. In the U.S. alone, it eats up $16 billion dollars each year for treatment and compensation for missed work.
All that pain and expense is so unnecessary. As is true for many, if not most, ailments, prevention is far better than a cure.
As many as half of all back problems are caused by improper lifting. You've heard it before, but I'll repeat it anyway: When you lift, don't bend over. Keep your back straight and lower yourself by bending you knees. If the object is heavy, don't be a hero. Get help! (Is it any wonder that males 20 to 24 years old are the most likely to hurt their backs?)
If you work at a job that stresses your back--medical work, warehousing, mechanical occupations, and garbage collection are top contenders--you may need to do more than just practice good lifting technique. Talk to your employer about changing the way you do your job to reduce the stress on your back. Companies don't want disability payments any more than you want a bum back.
Treatment of back problems is surprisingly simple. Although many people think of the spine as a complex and fragile collection of bones and mysterious tissues that form the weak link in the human anatomy, most cases of back pain are actually caused by muscle strain. For that reason, medical treatment usually isn't called for. Unless the pain continues to worsen, you can do as much as your doctor to help you feel better.
The basic approach to do-it-yourself treatment is to take aspirin or ibuprofen, spend a day or two in bed (more probably won't help and may hinder recovery), and return to activity slowly. Some other things that may help include an ice pack for the first 48 hours and heat thereafter, a gentle massage, and getting some exercise as soon as possible. You'll also do better if you avoid sitting for long periods and use a a chair with a firm, straight back when you do have to sit.
Finally, just as you can build strong muscles in your arms, you can build a stronger, more injury-resistant back. Talk to a trainer at a local fitness center about the appropriate exercises, or read a book that demonstrates exercises for people with back pain. It may be the best way to beat a back attack.
Here some exercise tips:
Exercises to minimize problems with back pain You can minimize problems with back pain with exercises that make the muscles in your back, stomach, hips and thighs strong and flexible. Some people keep in good physical condition by being active in recreational activities like running, walking, bike riding, and swimming. In addition to these conditioning activities, there are specific exercises that are directed toward strengthening and stretching your back, stomach, hip and thigh muscles.
Before beginning any exercise program, you should discuss the program with your doctor and follow the doctor's advice. It is important to exercise regularly, every other day. Before exercising you should warm up with slow, rhythmic exercises; if you haven't exercised in some time, you can warm up by walking. Inhale deeply before each repetition of an exercise and exhale when performing each repetition. Exercises to strengthen your muscles Wall slides to strengthen back, hip, and leg muscles
Stand with your back against a wall and feet shoulder-width apart. Slide down into a crouch with knees bent to about 90 degrees. Count to five and slide back up the wall. Repeat 5 times.
Leg raises to strengthen back and hip muscles. Lie on your stomach. Tighten the muscles in one leg and raise it from the floor. Hold your leg up for a count of 10 and return it to the floor. Do the same with the other leg. Repeat five times with each leg.
Leg raises to strengthen stomach and hip muscles Lie on your back with your arms at your sides. Lift one leg off the floor. Hold your leg up for a count of 10 and return it to the floor. Do the same with the other leg. Repeat five times with each leg. If that is too difficult, keep one knee bent and the foot flat on the ground while raising the leg. You can also sit upright in a chair with legs straight and extended at an angle to the floor. Lift one leg waist high. Slowly return your leg to the floor. Do the same with the other leg. Repeat five times with each leg.
Partial sit-up to strengthen stomach muscles Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on floor. Slowly raise your head and shoulders off the floor and reach with both hands toward your knees. Count to 10. Repeat five times.
Back leg swing to strengthen hip and back muscles Stand behind a chair with your hands on the back of the chair. Lift one leg back and up while keeping the knee straight. Return slowly. Raise other leg and return. Repeat five times with each leg.
Exercises to decrease the strain on your back Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on your bed or floor. Raise your knees toward your chest. Place both hands under your knees and gently pull your knees as close to your chest as possible. Do not raise your head. Do not straighten your legs as you lower them. Start with five repetitions, several times a day. Stand with your feet slightly apart. Place your hands in the small of your back. Keep your knees straight. Bend backwards at the waist as far as possible and hold the position for one or two seconds.
For more information and tips:
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