Does your back hurt at the end of the day? You are not alone, as back pain and back injuries account for 1 in 5 doctor visits. While some back pain is directly related to trauma or lifting incorrectly, most back pain is chronic and develops over time. The most common cause of chronic back pain is poor posture. Poor posture and physical imbalances directly affect your bones, the supporting ligaments, and your muscle tone.
Here are a few back health tips to improve your posture and decrease musculoskeletal imbalances and the resulting pain and fatigue:
Stand up straight. Your mother and your drill instructor had this one right. When you slouch or lean forward or to either side, the resulting imbalance causes bones, ligaments and muscles to strain and fatigue leading to even greater imbalances. When you stand, the middle of the ear should line up with the middle of the shoulder, hip, knee and ankle. When you sit, the middle of the ear should line up with the middle of the shoulder and hip.
Breathe evenly and deeply. Taking a deep breath lifts your diaphragm, ribcage and oxygenates your body and allows you to release tension.
- Many people with lower back problems and back pain have overly tight muscles and lack flexibility. Stretch your upper back, your iliopsoas muscle and your calf muscles. Stretching your upper back will decrease strain and increase mobility. The iliopsoas muscle is a deep set lower back muscle that connects your spine, pelvis and the top of the thigh. Your calf muscles are distantly connected by fascial tissue that run the length of your body from the bottom of your feet to your neck and the base of your skull. Releasing tension in your calves will help relieve stress all the way up to the skull.
Develop your core. When your abdominal muscles and the muscles that surround and support your spine are strong and toned they work together to support your skeleton and improve your posture. Your lower back pain may be a sign of weak core muscles and today’s prolonged periods of sitting at work also weakens your core. A stronger core will also improve your body movement and flexibility, and should always include rotational exercises to stretch and strengthen the areas immediately involved in spinal rotational and twisting movements. Pilates is one exercise approach that focuses on building core strength and improves flexibility, but there are many effective exercises to help you strengthen your core muscles.
These back health tips – posture, breathing, flexibility and core strength will help alleviate back pain symptoms and prevent future back problems.