Preventing Low Back Pain
By: Marcia Guy LMBT, CPT
Proper Bending for Low Back Pain
Working in massage for over 10 years now, I’ve had more people than I can count come to me for low back pain. While this can certainly come from muscle tension or skeletal misalignment, it can also be poor form. Most people notice their low back pain when bending over and/or reaching for items. This type of pain can occur when we use our back instead of our hips and legs.
The holiday season comes with a lot of work: cooking big meals, wrapping presents, putting up decorations, and all the rest. This presents us many opportunities to either help, or hurt, our low back. Remember that our legs and hips are much stronger than our back!
The Risks of Poor Form
When we curl our spine rather than bending our hips and knees, we’re doing a few different things to ourselves.
- We’re lengthening the muscles of our back. When muscles are extended, they have to work harder than when they’re in a neutral position. Extended muscles are also more at risk for injury.
- We’re loading our vertebral disks unevenly. When our spine is straight the disks are nice and flat. Curling our spine angles the vertebra and puts more pressure on the front half of the disk. This increases our chance for disk injuries.
Now, while it’s unlikely you’ll pull a muscle or bulge a disk, if you already have other risk factors (a week core, former injuries, etc.) you’re basically loading the dice against yourself.
Why is the Low Back so at Risk?
The bones of our low back link together to create the greatest stability possible, causing them to move together as a unit. However, where the vertebrae meet the sacrum (tailbone) and the base of the ribcage, they stop linking together so that we regain mobility. In contrast, our hips have huge potential range of motion.
When we force our low back to be mobile instead of our hips, we’re making it do things it wasn’t designed to do. Our body will let us get away with this for a while, but eventually we’ll suffer the consequences. Especially when you’re picking up weight or pulling on something be sure to use your hamstrings and hips!
If you think you may of muscle weakness contributing to your low back pain, check out this post that gives you a quick and easy guide to get started doing a full body workout.