According to the Canadian Chiropractic Association, up to 85% of working people can expect to experience lower back pain at some point in their lives. They’ve even gone so far as to call it an epidemic.
Back pain should never be ignored, as it can either indicate a very severe condition or lead to other conditions, like sciatica. Here’s what you need to know about back pain to reduce your chances of creating serious problems in the future.
How to Avoid Severe Back Problems
Back problems are often caused by inappropriate motion. There are two common culprits.
The first is the “bend and twist” motion. You should never combine a bend and twist. Most people are careful about avoiding this motion only when they’re picking up a heavy object. However, weight isn’t the issue. Believe it or not you can throw your back out with a “bend and twist” by reaching for a pencil, or a sock. Do one or the other!
The second problematic motion we see is an extension motion. You don’t want to bend backwards. People do it all the time—they go to paint the ceiling and they reach up to look and paint behind them. If you’ve ever spent five minutes looking at the stars you’ll know why this movement is a problem—after all, it doesn’t take long for your neck to get sore!
Obviously posture and other issues can come into play as well, but believe it or not inappropriate motion accounts for the largest percentage of my patients.
How to Avoid Making Back Problems Worse
First, your first thought should not be to “strengthen” your back with exercise. Yoga, Pilates, and other exercise techniques will only make your back worse once you’re in pain. Think about it—you wouldn’t try to strengthen your arms by lifting weights after you’ve pulled a muscle, right? The same principle applies—you shouldn’t exercise anything after it’s already been injured.
This is not to say strengthening your back is never a good idea. Yoga and Pilates can carry some amazing benefits after your back is in good shape again, or before you ever experience a problem in the first place. You just want to make sure you’re pursuing these activities at an appropriate time.
The second-worst thing you can do for your back is to ignore the pain. Back pain does not go away on its own and popping a bunch of pain killers will not do anything except mask the pain. If you don’t get checked out, you could create more serious problems. You may have a bulging disc or slipped disc. These little niggling pains could also be an early warning sign of sciatica.
Some Common Myths About Back Pain
Back pain is quite poorly understood. Below, you’ll find some of the most common myths we hear at our practice. (In a hurry? Just watch the video below).
- Myth #1 – Back pain is genetic. Back conditions are almost never genetic. They’re just common. This is actually great news! There’s not much you can do about a genetic condition, but often, there’s a great deal you can do to alleviate back problems.
- Myth #2 – Back pain is caused by height. On its own, being tall doesn’t give you any back problems. Back pain doesn’t really care what shape and size you are. However, people who are either very tall or very short should pay special attention to ergonomics. Why? Because most desks, keyboards, and other devices are designed for “average” people by default. You may need to make some additional adjustments to protect your back health.
- Myth #3 – Back pain should be treated with a heating pad, hot water bottle, or hot bath. This is identical to a common mistake people make when they start experiencing neck pain. Heat does feel great, but it’s busy increasing inflammation, too. This can make matters worse. If you twisted your ankle you’d want to bring the swelling down…it’s a good idea to do the same for your back!
- Myth #4 – When you’ve hurt your back, you should just go to bed. This is actually old-school advice. Recent medical science has taught us that staying that still prolongs the problem. Remember, back pain is worse in the morning!
The fifth and final myth? The idea that nothing can be done!
Here at Pure Chiropractic, we treat back pain every single day. In fact, a visit to our offices is one of the smartest things you can do in response to any kind of lower back pain. Are you in pain right now? Don’t wait! Call and make an appointment today!