Watch That Lower Back

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Wouldn’t it be great if our bodies didn’t get old? If we didn’t have any aches and pains and we had the strength and flexibility we did in our youth? And it’s not just pain in one part of our body. Injury can manifest in every major joint and in our muscles. One of the most common areas where we suffer is our lower back.

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If you’re like most of us, you’ve most probably gone through a period of low back pain. This pain can be a result of conditions affecting the lumbar spine, the discs between the vertebrae, the ligaments in the lower back, spinal cord and the muscles of the lower back. Stress or injury to the back from an accident, chronic overload of the back muscles caused by over lifting or obesity, disease such as osteoporosis, degenerative arthritis related to age or genetic disposition or nerve injury caused by a herniated spinal disc can be factors that cause varying degrees of pain.

In women, lower back pain is an all too common phenomenon. We’ve all seen or heard of friends and family members going through a rough time with their backs. Not to mention that we’ve all experienced some form of back pain ourselves. Many different factors contribute to back pain, not all of them back related. You may have back pain for a reason not associated directly with your back at all. For example, pelvic inflammatory disease is a bacterial infection that can cause back pain in women. For the purposes of time and space, we’re going to cover two of the most direct reasons. Weight and overuse injuries.

Body weight is a huge reason why we have issues with our lower back. Our spine is designed to carry the body’s weight and distribute that weight evenly. When excessive weight is carried, the spine is forced to handle that weight, and this can lead to structural damage. The lower back pain suffers the most, especially when the person bends forward. When we walk upright, our spine acts like a suspension spring. Now imagine adding a huge weight to that spring. The spine compresses and stability is compromised. Add to that the abdominal muscles are most probably under developed as well. When the abdominals are weak and the ligaments and supporting structure of the lower back are weak, there is great potential for severe injury.

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The abdominal muscles and the muscles of the lower back have a symbiotic relationship. They are both responsible in keeping the spine protected. When one is weak, the other is compromised. In order to have a healthy lower back, it’s imperative that your lower back muscles and your abs are strong. Exercise, a weight loss program and good posture will be a step in the right direction in reaching your wellness goals.

Overuse is something we seem to realize only after we sustain an injury. Overuse injuries happen when we use a particular part of our body for an extended period of time. For instance, sitting down in one position can prevent our spines from absorbing nutrients into the inter-vertebral discs. Over time, our spines deteriorate and the discs become withered and dry, and they lose their natural pliability and shock absorbing qualities. The erector spinae and the muscles responsible for correct posture become weak and predisposes the tissues to injury. Overuse can also be the result of the repetition of a particular movement.

It’s clear that the back can suffer from weak muscles and overuse. If you want to have a healthy life as you get older, you’ll need to really buckle down and lose weight if you’re overweight, and strengthen the lower back muscles and your abs.

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Make your next visit to your doctor one where you can tell him your aspirations, and once you’re cleared for activity, make a beeline to your gym and start a workout routine that’ll get you back on track. If your job involves you sitting at your desk for long periods of time, make it a habit to get up every hour or so and walk around for a few minutes. Keep that body as young as possible!