It is estimated that over 80% of all women suffer back pain at some point in their lives. Back pain is the #2 cause of loss of work next to the common cold, and occurs in all age groups. The encouraging news is that most back problems respond well to conservative treatment or rest from the offending activity. But the majority of back injuries can be prevented by understanding how to take care of your spine. I have designed an easy way to remember the keys to keeping your spine healthy….
To attain a healthy back, remember the following “M.O.V.E.” principle:
MECHANICS: The worst enemy of the spine is a mechanical force called compression. Since we can’t escape gravity, a way to minimize compression on the spine is to CONTROL YOUR WEIGHT and AVOID PROLONGED SITTING. The spine is happiest when there is proper movement and flexibility between vertebral segments and when there are balanced muscular forces around it.
OXYGEN: A main mechanism of injury in back pain is damage to the vascular structures of the spinal discs and joints. Smoking constricts these small blood vessels, cutting off nutrients to the tissues. DON’T SMOKE!! Another way to facilitate nutrition to the spine is to INCREASE CIRCULATION through movement and deep rhythmic breathing…that is what happens when we EXERCISE!
VARIATION: If we VARY POSITIONS & ACTIVITES of the spine, we can minimize “wear and tear” on the joints as we age; this prevents the advancement of osteoarthritis. Constant compressive forces and repetitive movements create unnecessary damage to the spinal system. A variety of exercise and frequent change of positioning helps the spine to be more resilient, so get out of your chair and move often throughout your day!
EXERCISE & EDUCATION: The most important first step is to attain proper POSTURE in all activities of daily living: sitting, standing, sleeping, lifting, exercising. MOVEMENT actually helps to keep our joints lubricated and can change the pressure inside our vertebral discs. STRENGTHENING MUSCLES of the legs and core (trunk) gives stability to the spine, which prevents injury during activities. If we EDUCATE ourselves about spine care, LEARN SUCCESSFUL WAYS TO EXERCISE, and consult with a health care professional if back pain persists more than 7 days, then we can begin the journey of attaining a healthy back.
Submitted by: licensed Physical Therapist, Lyn Loy