Summer means it’s time to head outside, even if just to your yard, as you embrace the warm weather. Back pain, however, may prevent you from enjoying your favorite activities in the months to come, and you’re not alone.
“Back pain is one of the most common medical problems, affecting 8 out of 10 people at some point during their lives,” according to MedlinePlus.
Unfortunately, bedrest can make that pain worse.
You need to move
“Every part of life requires movement,” says Justin Stilson, chiropractor at Activated Life Chiropractic & Wellness. “You need proper movement in order to get blood flow into those spinal disc spaces.”
You may be experiencing back pain because of how much you’ve had to sit inside recently, as sitting for long periods of time puts pressure on lumbar spinal discs. At first, movement may exacerbate your discomfort, but consistent movement will improve your chances of a pain-free summer.
“The biggest movement that anyone could be doing is walking,” Stilson says. “Walking is so important for spinal movement because it rotates the whole spine and it helps the knees and hips out, as well. It’s a wonderful activity to do for full body exercise.”
If your day involves a lot of sitting, Stilson suggests taking a short walk every half hour or so to stretch your muscles and improve blood flow.
Outdoor walking has an added benefit: exposure to sunshine. You’ll absorb vitamin D3 through your skin, which boosts your immune system. You can also get outside and help your spine by gardening, swimming, cycling, hiking, mountain climbing, and doing outdoor yoga.
Even though movement helps your spine, you need to be careful when bending or lifting.
“Proper form with the spine and lifting is so important,” Stilson says. “Bend with your knees rather than bending all the way forward, trying to pick something up off the ground. And keep a tight core. This will prevent back injuries with lifting.”
You should also avoid the microtraumas that come from repetitive motions, like swinging a bat, racket, or golf club. Your muscles develop small tears during repetitive movement or exercise, and they must heal. When you don’t rest, microscopic injuries stick around and can end up causing chronic pain.
Microtraumas also cause stress fractures, commonly called overuse injuries, according to ScienceDirect. They’re common when you start a new exercise program or play sports without proper form or gear.
To avoid overuse injuries, pace yourself when you start a new fitness regimen, increasing your activity level gradually and cross-training to avoid continually exercising one group of muscles, the Mayo Clinic suggests.
Visit the chiropractor
Despite your best efforts, you may still experience back pain. If over-the-counter medicine and rest don’t help, consider a chiropractic adjustment.
“Basically, when you get a chiropractic adjustment, it stimulates the joint movement, which creates what’s called proprioception, which is increased joint awareness to the brain,” Stilson says. “It improves the motor output to whatever organ system that nerve goes to.”
Adjustments don’t take long, usually a few minutes, so you have plenty of time to get back to playing backyard croquet or planning your next hike.
Learn more about how your posture while driving, sitting, sleeping, and standing impacts your spine, with Activated Life Chiropractic & Wellness’s 3D spine simulator.
Visit ALCWDrStilson.com for more information and to make an appointment.