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Low back pain (LBP) is VERY likely to affect all of us at some point in life. The question is, do you control IT or does IT control you? Here are ten “tricks” for staying in control of “IT!”
1) STRETCH: When you’re in one position for a long time (like sitting at your desk), SET your cell phone timer to remind yourself to get moving and stretch every 30-60 minutes! Mornings are a great time to stretch.
2) BE SMART: Do NOT place your computer monitor anywhere other than directly in front of you. Shop carefully for a GOOD supportive office chair that is comfortable and a good fit.
3) POSTURE: For sitting, sit as upright as comfortably possible keeping your chin tucked in so the head stays back over the shoulders.
4) SHOE WEAR: Avoid wearing heels greater than one inch high (2.54 cm). A supportive shoe that can be worn COMFORTABLY for several hours is ideal! Generally, the “skimpier” the shoe, the worse the support, so don’t “skimp” on shoe wear!
5) SMOKING: Carbon monoxide from cigarette smoke competes with oxygen at each cell in the body literally suffocating them, which makes the healing process more difficult.
6) WEIGHT: Your body mass index (BMI) should be between 18.5 and 25. Search the internet for “BMI Calculator” and plug in your height and weight to figure out yours. BMI is a reliable indicator of body fatness and a great way to determine where you are at for goal setting.
7) ANTI-INFLAMMATION: Common over-the-counter (OTC) medications include ibuprofen and naproxen. However, recent studies show these types of medications (NSAIDs) may delay the healing process. A healthier choice is ginger, turmeric, and bioflavonoids, which are commonly bundled together in a supplement. Eat fresh fruits, veggies, lean meats, and food rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Vitamin D, magnesium, and coenzyme Q10 are also smart choices. AVOID FAST FOOD as they tend to be rich in omega-6 fatty acids, which can promote inflammation.
8) ICE: This could be included in #7 but deserves its own space. Ice reduces swelling while heat promotes it. Try rotations of ice every 15-20 minutes for about an hour three times a day to “pump” out the swelling!
9) STAY ACTIVE: Balance rest with physical activity like exercise or simply going for a walk. The most important thing is to move your body around.
10) STRENGTHEN: Core stabilizing exercises (sit-ups, planks, quadruped) and BALANCE exercises are VERY important!
You may wonder, “Do I need an MRI scan of my back.”
Also, if you feel leg pain it may indicate things are getting worse and may indicate a bulge on the disc or worse yet a herniated disc in your back. Some people will try stretching the lower back first to see if they get relief. Pain very low in the lower back may be originating from the coccyx or tailbone. A pulled muscle in the back generally will get better with rest. Persistent or worsening pain intensity and/or frequency necessitates a visit to see a professional.
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