The majority of Americans today suffer from back pain which could be caused by a previous injury, like a car accident or fall, or simply aging. Back pain can be a minor annoyance for some people, while it can majorly interrupt regular activities for others. However, it doesn’t have to be. This blog will cover basic anatomy, the possible causes of back pain, ways to relieve it, and some movements and exercises you can implement to help alleviate back pain over time.
The spine provides primary support for the skeletal system. It consists of the cervical spine, the thoracic spine, the lumbar spine, the sacrum, and the coccyx. Many muscles originate from the vertebral column and attach to other parts of the skeletal system, while some run along the spine. These muscles are responsible for the structural support of the trunk, as well as movements like flexion, extension, and rotation. Muscles in the back include the trapezius, latissimus dorsi, erector spinae, and more.
In the upper back, the muscles are also involved in the movement of the shoulder girdle. These muscles include the trapezius, the levator scapulae, the rhomboid (major and minor), and the latissimus dorsi. In the mid back, there is the serratus posterior. Along the spine is the erector spinae, a group of long muscles including the iliocostalis, longissimus, and spinalis. These muscles are intrinsic and are responsible for straightening the back and providing rotation. Other back muscles are transversospinalis, consisting of the multifidus, the semispinalis, and the rotares. This group of muscles stabilizes the spine.
Potential causes of back pain
Back pain, particularly low back pain, is multifaceted and can be caused by various factors. Some factors that can cause back pain include
Excessive Weight/Weight Gain
Improper Lifting Technique During Exercise
Physical or Neurological Defects
How to relieve it
Stay active during the day (Move daily)
Regular movement helps counteract muscle stiffness and shortening caused by being sedentary. When we sit all day, the muscles surrounding our hips and low back become tight and cause pain.
Incorporate strengthening exercises and flexibility
Strength training and flexibility exercises have many benefits for the body. Strengthening the body’s muscles helps to prevent straining and compensation while providing support for the spine. Stretching and mobility practice relieve tension in areas that may become constricted or tight due to sedentary lifestyles.
Massages or chiropractic adjustments
Chiropractic adjustments realign the spine to reduce pain and discomfort. Our lifestyle may often cause changes in our bodies that we may not be aware of without someone pointing it out. For example, if you have a desk job, you may not be aware of rounded shoulders or a forward head. Similarly, you may not notice an anterior pelvic tilt due to prolonged sitting. Chiropractic adjustments will help counteract these problems and bring the body back into a neutral state. Massages work similarly as they are used to relax overactive or tight muscles, thereby reducing pain.
Maintain a healthy weight
If your back pain results from excess weight on the body, consider seeking the help of a personal trainer and a dietician or nutrition coach to help you lose some weight while strengthening the body to help the trunk better support the body and its many functions.
Movements to incorporate into your routine
Pain in a specific area of the body is often due to some restriction in a surrounding area. Here are a few movements to incorporate into your routine to manage back pain.
Lying Figure Four
Any PNF Stretching (should be done with a Certified Stretch Professional)
Other movements include lying prone on a physioball or dead hangs (hanging from the pull-up bar). These positions allow gravity to work and decompress the spine, relieving pressure.
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