By David Blyweiss, M.D., Advanced Natural Wellness
September 29, 2017
- 4 out of 5 people will experience back pain in their lifetime
- Prevent your back from failing when you need it most
- Stand tall, lose weight and learn how to lift
Unless you regularly experience back pain, chances are good that you don’t give your back much thought. You take it for granted that your spine will support you, day in and day out, for your entire life.
Well, here’s a reality check for you.
It’s estimated that up to 80% of all adults will experience back pain at some point in their lives. This means you have somewhere around a four out of five chance of falling victim to some sort of back problem in your lifetime.
These are horrible odds! To make matters even worse, low back pain is the leading cause of disability worldwide. It’s related to more disabilities than any other health condition.
And you have to admit. We put our backs through some pretty wrenching efforts on a regular basis.
I don’t think I know anyone who hasn’t used their back when pushing, pulling and lifting heavy objects. We twist, turn, slouch and do just about everything we possibly can to damage this much-needed support structure.
This makes it extremely important to stop taking your spine for granted… and start making efforts to protect it from the damage you inflict upon it every day.
Prevent Your Spine from Failing You When You Need it Most
Standard aerobic exercise and gym workouts do very little to support spinal health. But when you have strong core muscle in your lower back, abdomen, buttocks and thighs it can provide your spine with a sturdiness that can last a lifetime.
One of my favorite workouts for spinal support is bridge exercises – with just a little bit of a twist. (As always, talk with your doctor before starting an exercise program.)
The bridge is pretty simple. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Then, lift your hips off the floor to create a straight angled line from your shoulders to your knees.
Instead of lifting your hips in one fell swoop, give the motion a great deal of concentration. Focus on where every vertebra in your back is placed.
Then, starting at the buttocks, gently roll the spine up one vertebra at a time until you’ve raised the last (upper) vertebra and your back is in a straight angle from shoulders to knees. Hold the position for 10 or 20 seconds then lower yourself – again, one vertebra at a time – until you are back in resting position. Perform two sets of 10.
When you perform bridges in this manner, you increase muscle strength and improve spinal support. At the same time, it increases the stretch of ligature to enhance spinal movement and support good posture. You also get the additional benefit of strengthening your abs, hips, thighs and buttocks.
Plank exercises also strengthen your back, improve flexibility and support healthy posture. And they aren’t hard to do.
Just lay face-down, then bend your elbows at your sides and tuck them closely to your body. The outside of your forearms should be flat to the ground, and your hands will be near your neck.
Tighten your abdomen and then, in a push-up motion, raise your body off the floor using your forearms and toes.
Your hips and stomach may try to sag, but keep them as straight as possible and hold for a count of 10. Repeat three to five times.
These are just two exercises that are great when it comes to supporting spinal health and reducing back pain. I also have a few tips you can practice every day.
Stand Tall and Learn How to Lift
Learn how to lift properly. If you hunch over or twist your body while lifting, you’re bound to hurt your back. Instead, stand close to the object you’re going to lift. Then, bend at the knees until your arms are at about the same height as the item. Keep your back straight and your head down as you lift. If you can’t manage it on your own, wait until someone can help you.
Remain aware of your posture. If you find yourself slouching, just give yourself a quick shoulder roll. Roll one shoulder forward, up and then backward toward your spine Then, do the same with the other. This will pull your shoulders back and help you stand a little taller without slouching.
Lose weight. Being overweight – especially having excess belly fat – places a great deal of strain on the muscles, tendons and cartilage in your lower back. Check out this earlier Advanced Natural Wellness article to help get you started on your weight loss journey.
Rubin DI. Epidemiology and risk factors for spine pain. Neurol Clin. 2007 May;25(2):353-71.
Hoy D, et al. The global burden of low back pain: estimates from the Global Burden of Disease 2010 study. Ann Rheum Dis. 2014 Jun;73(6):968-74.
Shiri R, et al. The association between obesity and low back pain: a meta-analysis. Am J Epidemiol. 2010 Jan 15;171(2):135-54.