As I mentioned in the second part of “Getting in shape at Home,” back pain seems to be a more popular physical limitation. This is because you use your back much more than you think. Just sitting there reading this is activating your lower back by stabilizing your core. And if you’re slouching, you’re slowly weakening your back. This is such a common occurrence that people don’t realize they’ve damaged their back until it starts “acting up” on them.
A weakened lower back can lead to serious health problems. Muscle spasms, pinched nerves, and pain/tingling shooting down your legs is an indicator of a problem. This is when you should get help. It’s better to recognize the problem and fix it before it becomes more of an issue.
How can I tell if I have bad posture?
The most popular way is if you have to rearrange yourself while sitting due to neck, upper, or lower back pain. Seems obvious right? Well since people have normal routines everyday, they rearrange themselves without thinking. This is why you should make accommodations even if you’re not sure if your posture is bad.
How can I fix it?
One thing that I have personally found that works great is able to be done by common household items.
Roll up a towel before sitting down in that chair. Place it in your lower back since this is where most pain originates from. Doing this also expands your spine in it’s natural arc. Consequently, a good amount of pressure will be naturally dispersed.
Using the same towel principles, you can also lay down with the towel in the same spot in your back. This allows your spine to arc naturally with the aid of your body weight as pressure. Be sure to lay on a sturdy surface (not a couch or bed) to help keep your body in a straight line.
You can lay completely flat or knees bent (as shown). By bending your knees, you move your hips. While on your back, this movement pushes your hips down, so it may help better than laying flat. As the old saying goes, everyone is different. It Just depends on personal choice.
Check your mattress for it’s firmness. The older the mattress the less support (duh right?). If your bed drastically dips down in the center, it’s probably doing more harm than good. Plus you’re probably not getting a decent nights sleep.
A bad mattress can also cause pain because of the unnatural shape your body takes in the hours you sleep.
If you sit in the middle of your bed and feel like you’re almost in the middle of the top and bottom pads, I would advice looking into a new mattress. My first choice would be a roll up air mattress.
Using a stability ball for stretching and exercising helps tremendously. A good way to stretch is to lay face down on it. Position your hips close to the top to allow your torso and legs to take the pressure off your back. Doing this for a few minutes a day can make a world of difference. You will need to find a ball that is large enough to drape yourself over, though. Head to Wal-Mart and browse in the sporting goods.
Performing bridges are a good and easy way to build up weakened muscles in your lower back. These exercises, along with superman’s (see Getting in Shape Part II) can done conveniently.
Bridges, also known as “Butt Lifts,” are performed laying on your back. Keeping your feet together, bend you knees at a 90 degree angle. Once there, lift your butt off the floor and hold it in the air for a few seconds before lowering it down. Repeat this until you see necessary.
If you want a more difficult challenge, put your calves or feet on a chair. To make it even more challenging, put your feet or calves on a stability ball.
Back pain is one the most common types of bodily pain. It increases with age, too. If you can make small adjustments now it will only benefit you in the long run. If you feel any new pain that stays consistent, don’t hesitate to contact your doctor. They may be able to spot a pinched nerve or bulging disc before it gets worse.
Above all else, drink water and stay safe.