This may be small comfort when your back suddenly is giving you problems, but in many ways it’s amazing that our backs usually give us no problems at all!
Why? Because humans really aren’t “built” for walking upright. Our vertebral column is designed to act as an arch. When humans evolved to walk on two legs, it then had to work as a weight-bearing column and, in order to support our head and balance our weight directly over our hip joints and lower limbs, our spine has evolved into a series of S curves: we have the kyphosis (the backward curve in our upper back) and our lordosis (the deep forward curve in our lower back).
That lower column is subject excessive pressure. And that excessive pressure can eventually cause some pretty excessive back pain.
In fact, back pain is one of humankind’s most common of health complaints, and accounts for more than 15 million visits to a doctor each year (in the U.S. alone. Most of us, unfortunately, will experience debilitating back pain at least once in our lifetime.
Aching backs are very common. We understand that’s small comfort when your back is bothering you!
So what are some of the most common back health questions? Read below:
- What’s the best thing I can do to prevent back pain? Exercise! More specifically, stretching and strengthening your core’s muscles, particularly your obliques – the ab muscles on your sides.
- Why do I hurt my back when lifting something? You may not be lifting it properly. To lift wisely, engage your abs to support your back. Bend your knees and keep your back straight (don’t bend at the waist). Keep the object close to you and never hold it higher than your armpit or lower than your knees. Never lift or move something that’s heavier than 20 percent of your body weight. Point your feet at the item and face it as you pick it up. Lift with your thighs and if you change direction, do so with your feet, not at the waist.
- Why does my back ache when I sit for a long time? You’re compressing your vertebrae. To prevent back pain, don’t lean forward at your computer. Studies also have shown that sitting for a long time in a car or at your desk can put more pressure on your spine than even lying down or standing up. So get up every half hour so and just walk about for one or two minutes. Take a longer break every hour.
- What are some easy exercises I can do to help my back? Here are three:
- Get down on your hands and knees. Reach your right arm straight out ahead of you and straighten your left leg out behind you. Hold in your abs and hold for five to 10 seconds. Slowly return to the start position and switch your arm/leg. Repeat three to five times on each side.
- Sit in a straight backed chair or backless stool. Sit tall (lengthen your spine), keeping your shoulders relaxed. Squeeze your shoulder blades together (let your arms hang at your sides). Hold for 3-5 seconds and release. Repeat 10-20 times.
- Perform a plank. Start by lying face down on a mat and then raise yourself up to your elbows and toes. Lie your forearms flat against the mat. Keep your spine straight by holding in your abs and tightening/squeezing your buttocks. Hold this pose as long as you can and then slowly lower your body back to the mat. Do two or three times.
Image courtesy of Ambro/FreeDigitalPhotos.net