Did you know that 80 percent of American adults will experience lower back pain? And we're not talking about a little twinge here and there. We're talking about the kind of pain that keeps you in bed, home from work, too stiff and painful to do much of anything. Instances of missed work from lower back pain will cost Americans more than $66 BILLION this year alone!
Additionally, medical costs of treating back and neck pain bring the total costs well above $100 billion annually. Per person, the costs of medical care for people with lower back or neck pain is double to triple the total annual healthcare expenditures for people with healthy backs.
But the costs go well beyond the damage to your bank account. What about the leisure activities you love doing that you just can't do anymore? Many of us have worked very hard to earn our leisure time, and, just like that, back pain can take it all away. The strength and flexibility we depend on to excel at the activities, which bring us joy, is replaced by stiffness, weakness and pain.
It's tempting to blame it on "just getting older." But is that all it is... really? Or is something more going on in our bodies? And, if there is, how can we prevent lower back pain from happening to us? Is there anything you can do to reduce your potential for suffering from debilitating lower back pain? Yes, there is! Here are Five Ways You Can Prevent Lower Back Pain Regular Stretching. These days, most of us are either in jobs that keep us working hard on our feet or sitting for long periods of time, with little time in-between. No matter which type of work you do, stretching is a vital part of staying fit and healthy. Just ten minutes of simple, daily stretching exercises can do you a world of good. And, when it comes to the lower back, don't skimp on the leg stretches. Believe it or not, your hamstrings can be the key to keeping your lower back healthier longer. These muscles help distribute and carry your weight, taking some of the strain off your lower back. Over time, this can make a big difference. Just be sure to consult your physician before beginning any exercise regimen.
Core-Focused, Low-Impact Exercise. You don't have to spend hours in the gym every day to fight lower back pain. In fact, improperly-executed, high-impact exercise can actually increase your changes of chronic lower back pain. That said, regular low-impact exercise will keep your whole body strong, allowing your entire frame to share the load of carrying and moving your weight around.
This is because core exercises target the muscles in your stomach, back and sides, the areas of your body that tend to carry most of your weight. Strengthening these muscles will also help you with balance and overall stability, so you can reduce your changes of injury. And, as with stretching, the longer your body stays stronger, the less wear and tear your back and other joints will suffer.
Practice Proper Form. One of the easiest ways to be injured, either immediately or over time, is to exercise with improper form or procedure. Your stance, posture and process during any exercise will either positively or negatively impact both the immediate results of that exercise and the long-term effects. Whether you are working with machines, free weights, or engaging in aerobic exercise such as jogging, swimming, biking or just walking, be careful and conscious of the process through each rep, step or cycle.
If you are unfamiliar with a workout or a particular machine, or if you have not exercised regularly in some time, it's a good idea to consult your physician. Once you are sure the exercise routine will be safe and beneficial for you, consider working with a certified trainer until you are certain you know exactly how to properly execute the steps in every exercise. When exercising, improper procedure can become a habit, and that can be a difficult pattern to break. It's much easier to start off the right way than to retrain your body once you are accustomed to doing a rep the wrong way.
Listen to Your Body. Whether engaging in athletic activity, your favorite hobby or your job, listen to the messages your body is sending. Rest when you need to. Take breaks, and be careful not to push yourself past the point of exhaustion. Fatigue can easily lead to mistakes or overcompensation, increasing your risk of injury.
Maintain a Healthy Weight. Carrying around even a few "extra pounds" adds stress and strain onto your body, most of which is managed by your lower back. Maintaining a healthy weight, in conjunction with regular, low-impact exercise, will help your back stay healthier longer.
In particular, watch out for weight gain in the middle. Developing a "spare tire" or "muffin top" may be common as we age, but these extra pounds around our waist also add a lot of extra strain on our core, which can lead to increased wear and tear on our spines, and, potentially lead to chronic lower back pain.
What Happens if I Just Don't Have the Time or Choose Not to Put in the Effort? Even the healthiest joints will wear out over time. The spinal column, as one of the most important jointed structures in your body, should be given special care and consideration. Most of us take our backs for granted, expecting our vertebrae, as well as the muscles and discs that protect them and make them work, to keep working as they always have. Unfortunately, as with anything mechanical, the efficiency and strength of your joints will decrease over time and use.
There are two basic variables that determine the extent of the wear and tear on your joints: injury and stress. While injury can happen to anyone, joint stress, especially stress on the spine, is something all of us can do something about. But, if we ignore the slight pains and stiffness, those early warning signs can degenerate into something much worse, such as Degenerative Disc Disease, Herniated Disc or even Spinal Stenosis.
What if I Do All of This and My Back Still Hurts? We see patients at our practice most every day with similar concerns. They're in reasonably good health but also in significant pain. The fact is, sometimes, lower back pain happens no matter how well you take care of yourself.
In this case, there's good news, even if you've been told you're a candidate for highly-invasive back surgery. Over 30 years helping people in pain, I've successfully treated countless patients without highly-invasive surgery or potentially addictive pharmaceutical drugs. At Atlanta Spine Specialists, we focus on delivering pain relief using proven, state-of-the-art medical procedures including but not limited to Spinal Cord Stimulation and S Cell Therapy – Regenerative Medicine.
To learn more about the methods that can reduce pain and even heal the root cause of lower back pain, schedule a consultation with Dr. Michael Skaliy today.