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By MARC J. FONDINO, DC
During my six years of treating patients I would have to say the number one presenting problem I see in my office is low back pain.
Statistics indicate low back pain is the second most common reason people seek medical care (aside from the common cold), and eight out of ten of us will experience lower back pain at some point in our lives, resulting in lost wages, missed work, and other issues to the range of 50 billion dollars a year! The good news is that most cases of low back pain are from mechanical origin, meaning not a result of cancers, tumors or infection. As a result this makes low back pain very treatable.
The question I seem to keep hearing from my patients and in the community is “Why do so many people experience back pain if we as Americans are supposedly living longer healthier lives?” This is a very valid question that needs to be answered. The truth is we are living longer than ever before, due to the advent of new medicines and improved technology, but these advances do not necessarily translate into better health or reduced morbidity. Let’s face it, now more than ever, with the changing economic times we are all working harder than ever. We spend longer hours at the office – in meetings, on conference calls, at our computer, and all of them are sitting, not to mention the increased stress of trying to do the job that was once done by three people.
And while we all know that exercise can reduce stress and make us feel better, when someone mentions the word “exercise” its like nails on a chalk board & excuses fly. It’s as though your grade school the teacher just said “alright students pass your homework in” and you put your head down knowing darn well you haven’t done your “homework” in weeks or months a.k.a. “exercise.”
The fact of the matter is we do not have that core strength (that center of muscle strength that is based around your back & stomach). So it’s really no surprise most of us will experience back pain at some point in our lives. Sitting increases the pressure in our discs and can lead to tissue damage over periods of time. Add on top of that weak postural muscles and that’s when injuries occur.
For example, when we finally do get that urge to clean out the garage and bend and twist to pick up something or if we are vacuuming and bend to pick up our kids toys. Our bodies can’t tolerate what use to be a simple task.
So how can you increase your core strength & prevent many lower back issues?
- Maintain a healthy weight to minimize stress on the spine
- Egage in periodic breaks at your workstation by getting up and move around
- Implement safe core exercises to help stabilize the spine**( see pictures)
- Apply sound ergonomics at our workstation (proper seat height, chair support, monitor height etc.)
- Use sound lifting techniques (lifting from the knees) ( see picture)
- Sleep with a pillow between the knees while side-lying
** If you already suffer from back pain, I would actually discourage you from engaging in these exercises until the inflammation and pain is under control. These exercises should not result in any pain, strain, or achy-ness, if so please discontinue them and seek the advice of someone who specializes in managing back pain.
Marc Fondino grew up in upstate New York and attended Keene State College in New Hampshire, where he majored in exercise physiology. He worked as a personal trainer, and with HealthSouth in the area of physical therapy, before going on to earn his doctorate in chiropractic from New York Chiropractic College in 2001. He also provided on the field services to the Buffalo Gladiators (semi-pro football) and was selected for advanced training in diagnostic imaging at Clifton Spring Hospital in Clifton Springs, NY.