Back pain? Don’t know what to do? You’re not alone. After working with several back patients, I’ve noticed a few ways on how you can improve your quality of life. Here are my 3 pieces of advice for those of you with back pain:
Don’t Stop Your Homework!
Let’s say you’ve finally been discharged from PT. You’ve spent weeks working hard in the clinic and at home (congrats, by the way). Should you stop now that you’re done? No! One of the goals of PT is to teach you how to do these exercises independently. If you don’t continue your home exercises, you could lose that strength, flexibility, or stability, you gained over time. Then, you could wind right back to square one. Don’t get us wrong, we love seeing you, but we also want to see you maintain what you’ve worked so hard for in PT.
The same goes with exercises you’ve done in the clinic. If you have a question on one of the exercises you’re doing in the clinic, feel free to ask us! We can eventually add these to your homework program for when you’re eventually discharged. After all, we’re here to help teach you how to live independently, with less pain.
Think about how you get out of bed first thing in the morning. Often times, we get up by flexing our trunk forward first. This is actually bad for our backs because it puts extra stress on our spine. Instead, try rolling to your side first, followed by pushing yourself upwards from the side. This way, you’re able to get out of bed without having to bend you spine. For more detailed instructions on how to log roll, check out this website and this video on log rolling. Try giving this a go next time you’re getting out of bed.
No BLT’s (Bending, Lifting, and Twisting )
Nope, we’re not talking about the sandwiches here. Bending, Lifting, and Twisting. These are 3 motions we tend to do, not knowing it can affect our backs. If you need to grab an object from the ground, you might think about bending your trunk forward to grab it. If there’s something heavy you need to pick up, you might think you’re body is capable of lifting it up. If you’re looking another direction or changing your direction, you might think about twisting your back. And guess what? None of these are good for your spine! But, there is some good news: you can still accomplish these tasks without going into these motions. Instead of bending down to reach for something, try squatting down instead. Here’s some information on how to perform a proper squat.
If you’re going to lift a heavy object, be sure you can lift it without pain or difficulty. If you can’t, ask someone for help. If you are carrying an object, make sure you’re carrying it closer to your body. The closer you have it towards yourself, the easier it will be to carry. Lastly, instead of twisting your trunk to turn or look another direction, turn your entire body instead. This will keep your back straight, instead of causing a shearing force on your spine.
–Nikole Nelson, DPT intern from UCF PT school