Back pain is very common. The daily demands on your body can cause muscle weakness in the lower back. Sitting continuously all day, improper posture, and limited physical activities are some of the contributing factors. Here are some tips to help you overcome and prevent lower back pain.

1) Maintain good flexibility.  Regular stretching helps keep muscles flexible. They can also reduce stress on joints and improve the flow of blood and nutrients throughout the body. Without it, stiffness, limitation in movement, and pain can occur. For specific low back pain, stretch your hamstrings  and hip flexors, which have direct attachments to your low back.

Stretching is also an important way to prepare the muscles for vigorous activities such as aerobics or playing a sport. Stretching
exercises should also be done before and after a workout to prevent muscle strain and soreness and to help avoid injuries.

2) Maintain core strength:  abdominals, gluteals, back extensors. Keep muscles healthy and strong to prevent strain on the spine.

3) Keep up with regular aerobic activity. Regular exercise increases back strength and endurance. Whatever activity you choose, make sure it gets you breathing a little harder than usual. This is good for your circulation and it keeps excess weight off. Some examples are walking, jogging, biking, swimming.

4) Introduce good posture, especially with prolonged sitting or standing. Good posture, which involves standing and sitting in a balanced and neutral position, is the best way to avoid straining your spine. Utilize a proper chair, lumbar support, and get an ergonomic evaluation to prevent unnecessary twisting or bending in the sitting position.

5) Monitor your spine for proper lifting techniques.  Lifting objects improperly can cause significant stress on your back, resulting to lower back pain. Always remember to activate your core muscles and maintain neutral spine.  Let your legs do the work when you are lifting objects; bend your knees and hinge from your hips. Furthermore, always ask for assistance when lifting heavy things.

-Kylene Pring, PT, DPT, san francisco sport and spine physical therapy

To speak to a physical therapist about back pain, call 415-593-2532.

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