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6 Ways to Manage Lower Back Pain Effectively

6 Ways to Manage Lower Back Pain Effectively

Lower back pain can stop you dead in your tracks, and I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. If you are over the age of 20, then you have suffered from lower back pain at one point in your life. We use our lower back for lifting, running, walking, and most of all, keeping our posture straight. Medical companies have made billions of dollars worth of prescription drugs and devices to help people with lower back pain. It’s amazing ,even with all these devices, you may still suffer from lower back pain, trying to find other effective ways to deal with it.

Here are effective ways to deal with lower back pain so it doesn’t stop you from living an enjoyable life.

But First, Find The Cause

To find an effective treatment for your lower back pain, you must know what is the cause. Did you know there can be several causes for your back pain and each one requires a custom treatment? Therefore, a doctor will always ask you what you were doing before the pain started. If you are suffering from lower back pain, think about what you were doing right before it started. If you are unsure about your activity, go through a list of reasons online which most likely resemble your day-to-day activities. For example, start by checking out these causes of lower back pain.

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Once you have determined the cause of your pain, you can start to find an effective solution. Here are 6 solutions.

Keep Moving

One of the best ways to manage your lower back pain is to keep moving and not let your back stiffen up. Here’s what a well-known back doctor has to say – Our spines are like the rest of our body — they’re meant to move,” says Reicherter. Have you noticed when you don’t use a certain part of your body it stiffens up? Then, when you try to use it after, you’ll be in pain until it gets back into its natural form.

It’s important you keep performing daily activities so you feel better. Start incorporating activities like swimming, aerobic exercises, and walking into your daily life.

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Pain Medication

Even though you should try to avoid medication as much as you can, it can be effective at reducing pain and getting you moving. As mentioned, you have to keep moving when you suffer from lower back pain so the area doesn’t stiffen up. Painkillers can help you manage the pain while you start moving. However, it’s important you take the proper doses and don’t get become dependent on them. The objective is to take them to help you get up and moving, not to reduce pain so you can be inactive.

Release Endorphins

Your body has its own natural painkillers and these can help with your lower back pain. If you’re able to move around and the pain isn’t that severe, then slowly start exercising. By doing this, you’ll be releasing your body’s natural painkillers lowering your back pain. Please know it’s important to take things slow and only do the exercises that don’t hurt your back even more. Perhaps google the best lower back “natural” exercises and get started in beginner mode.

Get Enough Sleep

Your body repairs itself while you’re sleeping so it’s important you get 6-8 hours each night. Approximately two thirds of people with chronic lower back pain suffer from some type of sleep disorder. In essence, lack of sleep will make your pain worse so it’s important to get adequate sleep every night. Not to mention, if you are exercising and not sleeping, your body will have no time to repair itself.

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Work Your Core

Your abdominal muscles are crucial for supporting your entire back. Your back pain might be caused by weak core muscles so you should focus on building them up. Implement core exercises like planks or, for an additional chest workout plank push-ups. If you have some extra money, enlist the help of a personal trainer who’ll be able to show you how to perform them correctly. You can also go to YouTube and do a quick search for “plank exercises” to learn the proper technique.

Physical Therapy

If your lower back pain is severe, you can go through physical therapy for 4-6 weeks. This is often the course of action or last resort right before any type of surgical procedure. The goal of this type of therapy is to decrease overall pain, increase function, and teach ways to prevent future lower back pain. There are two parts to physical therapy –

  1. Passive physical therapy: includes heat packs, ice packs, and electrical stimulation.
  2. Active physical therapy: this mainly focuses on specific exercises (as discussed above), and stretching.

Lower back pain can limit your daily activity and have a negative effect on your mental state. Many people become depressed knowing they are limited in what they can or cannot do. However, that doesn’t have to be you. With effective treatment through exercises, sleep, and pain medication, you can gain full functionality of your lower back and live a healthy, productive life.

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Featured photo credit: sunstonemassage.com via sunstonemassage.com

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Published on October 11, 2018

7 Killer Upper Back Stretches to Reduce Pain and Boost Endurance

7 Killer Upper Back Stretches to Reduce Pain and Boost Endurance

Building and maintaining a strong upper back depends not only on strength-training, but stretching and nutrition as well. Stretching the upper back muscles, along with a healthy diet can help alleviate pain while improving endurance.

Did you know that stretching your upper back builds endurance for sports, your job – which may require heavy lifting – and simple, everyday activities? Many people who exercise don’t recognize the importance of having a strong upper back, and often neglect this part of the body, focusing more on the lower back where injuries are more prone to occur.

Upper back endurance is necessary for runners, hikers, golfers, tennis players, bowlers, cyclists; the list goes on and on. If saving time is important to you, you want to reduce chronic back pain, boost your energy levels, or you simply need ways to get through a day at the office while confined to a computer, you’ll begin to understand why the following upper back stretches and exercises are necessary.

Here are seven stretches, combined with exercises, to help you maintain a strong upper back:

1. Lat Pull-Downs

By contracting and lengthening your latissimus dorsi muscles, trapezius, deltoids, rhomboids, teres major, along with the other muscles groups in and around your upper back, you are building muscle endurance and increasing mobility.

Seated at a lat pull-down machine, select a weight stack that is comfortable. Remember, you’re not preparing for a bodybuilding competition, you just want to exercise the back, so heavy weight is unnecessary.

Grab the wide bar above your head, palms down, and using a wide grip, pull the bar down to your chest and contract your upper back muscles.

Keep your head up, looking at the bar. This also helps keep your spine straight and provides a clearance so that the bar doesn’t hit your face. Slowly return the bar to the top and repeat for 15 reps. Do three to four sets.

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Here’s the correct technique by Denice Moberg:

2. Indoor Rowing

If upright exercises like walking on the treadmill or running outdoors bore you, you can strengthen your core using a rowing machine. Not only will you chisel your back, but the elongation of the upper back during the stroke motion creates a good stretch.

First, select a tension that is challenging but not a struggle. Make sure that your feet are securely placed in the machine’s foot straps, nice and tight to prevent the feet from moving while rowing.

Next, slide yourself in the rowing saddle forward toward the row bar and pull the bar toward the mid-section of your trunk area, which is the finish. Pulling the bar, bring your elbows beyond your back while contracting your upper muscles and rear shoulders.

Your back should be straight with a slight angle of around 100 degrees. Do not hunch.

During the catch, your legs should be at a 90 degree angle while locking out your arms completely. As a stretching exercise, repeat this motion for five minutes.

Here’s how you can do it:

3. Side Plank Rotation

If you’re short on time, floor exercises such as planks strengthen your core and can be done at home or during your lunch break at work. They can be done in 30 to 60 second increments.

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There are a few plank variations:

The low-position forearm plank in which your body weight is supported by your elbows; the straight-arm plank, which is a high-position plank; side plank in which your body is turned to one side and supported by one straightened arm; the stability-ball plank which is more challenging for your trunk; and the plank that gives you a good stretch is the side plank rotation.

To begin the side plank rotation, begin in the high plank position. Slowly turn your body to one side while stacking one foot on top of the other. Extend the opposite arm toward the ceiling and as you lower your arm, reaching underneath your body and rotating your trunk.

Done properly, you will feel the stretch along your rhomboids and shoulders. Repeat the rotation – reaching and tucking – 10 times. Switch sides.

Here’s a Side Plank Rotation demonstrated by Train Aggressive:

4. Yoga Stretches

A good way to incorporate breathing with stretching and gain flexibility in your core is Kundalini yoga – an intense yoga practice – gets your blood flowing and works wonders for the spine and posture.

The “Cat-Cow” pose is a great upper back warm-up, and when combined with the “Breath Of Fire”[1] or “fast breathing,” energy is sent through the entire body which stimulates the flow of cell activity and increases lung capacity.

On all fours, arms straight and directly below your shoulders, and knees directly below your hips, hunch your back, inhaling as you tuck your head into your chest, then exhale while arching your back and raise your head toward to sky.

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The rapid inhaling and exhaling in this exercise is known as the “Breath Of Fire,” as mentioned above. Increase the pace of both the “Cat-Cow” and “Breath Of Fire” and repeat this movement for up to five minutes.

This is how to do a Cat-Cow pose for energy:

5. Side Bends

This is a simple stretch to elongate the space between your ribs and increase range of motion, which helps achieve flexibility in the abdominals, spine, and lateral core.

Seated or standing with your back straight, raise your arms above your head and firmly hold your wrist. Gently pull your trunk to one side and hold for 20 to 30 seconds. When finished, repeat on opposite side.

Note: If standing, keep your feet shoulder width apart, if seated keep your feet flat on the floor.

Let’s take a look at how to do a standing side bend:

6. Pole Stretch

By creating opposing force and pulling on a stationary object, you are stretching your lats. The upper sides of your back. Here, you are performing a static stretch which is a stretch held beyond its normal range.

Find a pole, mounted gym apparatus, or other floor-affixed object and, while standing, pull on the object with slightly bent knees and back flat at a 45-degree angle.

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Continue to pull while extending your arms, feeling the stretch in your lats and rhomboid muscles. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat if needed.

7. Shoulder Blade Stretch

The shoulder blades are connected to the rhomboid muscles in the upper back. Sudden, quick movements like pulling a heavy object or even tossing a near-weightless object overhead, like a tennis ball during a serve, can strain the unstretched muscles between your shoulder blades, causing spasms.

Here’s how to avoid muscle strain:

Standing tall with feet shoulder width apart, gently pull your elbow across your chest, just beneath your chin, and hold for 15 seconds. If you do not feel immediate relief, try lowering or raising the elbow and perform the stretch again. Different angles can make a big difference.

There you have it – Seven upper back stretches and exercises to reduce pain and improve endurance. But while upper back stretches are important, a diet rich in antioxidants is equally key.

Bonus Tip: Getting a Diet Rich in Antioxidants

Antioxidants, also known as “Super Foods,” prevent the build up of free radicals in your body and control oxidative stress. These free radicals are toxins that get in the way of endurance, flexibility, and cause inflammation, among other fitness obstacles.

How do you incorporate antioxidants into your diet? Here are some common foods and beverages rich in antioxidants:

A good combination of quick and easy targeted cardiovascular exercises, static stretches, range-of-motion stretches, and yoga poses can increase upper back endurance and boost your energy levels, making your activities – both sedentary and active – manageable and fun.

Once you begin to incorporate these methods of relief into your routine, you will begin to walk taller, run farther, and hike longer!

Featured photo credit: Geert Pieters via unsplash.com

Reference

[1]Yogapedia: Breath of Fire

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