The Role of Exercise and Posture in the Treatment and Prevention of Back Pain

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Over and over again, studies are released to the public which state that if you want to have a longer and healthier life, then you have to live a healthy lifestyle. People focus on the popular fad diet at the time and on minimal exercise. You would think that by now we would have figured out that sitting on the couch watching The Biggest Loser does not constitute a workout routine. Yet, if you look at the time that the average person spends on watching the television, on mobile devices, or on the laptop to those hours spent exercising and trying to get fit, it would appear that the consensus is “it can wait until tomorrow”. Since we already know that exercise is good for us, we have highlighted three areas in which exercise and posture specifically help relieve back pain and increase flexibility.

Lubrication of the joints through exercise and proper eating

Consider the oil in a vehicle. You add it to the engine (or have an oil change in which they do it for you) in order to keep the parts within the engine working properly. But what would happen if you put the correct oil into the car but never cranked the car up? Would the engine get lubricated? Would you go anywhere? Of course not. In fact, if the vehicle was to sit with oil/lubricant within it and was not used, the engine could lock up and not function properly over time. The same is true with exercise and the foods which are consumed.

There are good oils which when consumed help to lubricate the joints, specifically fish oils. Yet, even if these foods are consumed, they really have no effect unless the body is moving in a way in which the body can say “hey, this area needs to be lubricated”. Many people only want to follow 1/2 of the formula: jump on a diet and hope that it works wonders. And while healthy eating is a starting block, it will not fix your back pain alone. If you want less pain in the joints, eat the good oils and then do exercises which move the back and back muscles. Ask your chiropractor which exercises are best for you.

Weight just brings you down. Literally

Do a little experiment. Tie a piece of string between two points so that it creates a straight line. Now, on the front bottom of the string start to attach clothes pins. Add about 10. What do you see? The string has bent forward and has shrunk down (compacted) in order to accommodate the weight. In a similar way, weight affects our backs. When a person is not a healthy weight, the weight pulls the back forward causing the spine and the pelvic bones to shift. Where the pelvis is supposed to be parallel to the ground, a person now has a rotation and angular shift to the area. Because the spine is connected to the pelvis, it too shifts. This causes back pain, walking problems, digestive problems, etc.

Apart from the pushing forward on the spine, too much weight can push down on the spine. This would cause the vertebrae in the spine to press unnaturally together which can limit mobility, increase pain, and perhaps “shrink” the person’s height.

The first and foremost concern with overweight individuals, in terms of relieving back pain caused by obesity, is to reduce the weight which is working against the spine. Cardio activity is the most effective exercise in which to do so, combined with making changes to your diet like cutting out junk food (fast food) and eating healthy. Additionally, focus on standing and sitting up straight. While this will not necessarily re-align the back, it can help to reduce the damage done to the spine and pelvis. Keep in mind that bones which are out of line may require a chiropractor to re-align them properly.

Flexibility

Have you ever wondered why some people are able to lift 245 lbs. but then throw out their back lifting a chair or bending over to pick up a piece of paper? This happens due to limitations in their flexibility. While focusing on a specific area of the back is good, it is more beneficial to do exercises that work all areas of the back. Unused muscles become weak when they are not exercised (even if you are doing back exercises that target specific muscles). Unfortunately they can sometimes become strained and damaged when they are overused. Don’t be afraid to try a different approach to your workout.

Any workout and exercise routine should be under the advisement of a licensed professional to reduce the risk of injury. Individuals with known back problems and certain other illnesses should continue to follow the advice of their doctor.