Tag Archives: spine

Ward Off Back Pain With Exercise

We have a lot of family members of patients ask us what they can do to prevent back pain. While it depends on the cause of pain, we generally advise that they can ward off back pain with exercise and proper posture. Weight training can help prevent back pain. Click To Tweet

Believe it or not, one of the best forms of exercise to help prevent back pain and injury is weight training. When done properly, weight training can strengthen your back and abdominal muscles, making you much less likely to strain your back. While your goal may be to specifically strengthen your back, abdominal, and hamstring muscles, you cannot solely focus on those muscles groups. Doing so may lead to imbalances in your musculature and result in other areas of pain.

Tips for staying safe

If done incorrectly, weight training can quickly lead to back pain and injury. To avoid that happening to you, keep the tips below in mind.

  • Always practice proper form. If you are uncertain of the proper form, please consult an expert or a personal trainer at your gym.
  • Focus on slow and steady resistance training, avoiding any jerky or sudden movements.
  • Start with a light amount of weight. When you feel comfortable performing the exercise at that weight, challenge yourself by slowly increasing the weight or amount of repetitions.
  • Never skip warming up or cooling down.

Below are two exercises to try if you’re specifically looking to strengthen your spine. Add them to your current workout and perform them up to 2 times per week, completing 3 sets of 10-15 repetitions each time.

Single-Arm Dumbbell Row

Single-Arm Dumbbell Row

Image: Bodybuilding.com

 

 

 

 

 

Find a flat bench and place a dumbbell on each side. Position your right leg and right hand on top of the bench. Use your left hand to pick the dumbbell off the floor and hold it while keeping your back straight. Pull the dumbbell up to the side of your body, keeping your upper arm close to your side and your torso stationary. Then, lower the dumbbell back to the starting position. Perform this movement 10-15 times before switching sides. After completing the exercise on both sides, rest before repeating it 1-2 more times.

Planks

Planks

 

 

 

 

Start by getting into the pushup position and dropping onto your forearms, making sure your elbows are directly below your shoulders. Keeping your core muscles tight, make sure your entire body forms a straight line. Hold the position for as long as you can before resting and repeating the exercise 1-2 additional times.

To ward off back pain with exercise, it is important to be consistent. Starting out, we recommend you only work out 2-3 times per week and increase from there. As always, it’s best to consult your physician before beginning a new exercise regime.

Foot Orthotics And Lower Back Pain

Would you believe it if we told you that simply using shoe inserts could help alleviate your lower back pain? It’s time to start believing because foot orthotics and lower back pain have a proven link. Research has shown that foot orthotics (shoe inserts) can help manage lower back pain, depending on the cause of the pain.

Foot orthotics are used to correct abnormal or irregular walking patterns by changing the angle your foot strikes the ground. Ideally, while walking or running your foot should strike the ground completely level. However, some people naturally have a gait that’s pronated (your feet hit the ground more on the inside edge) or supinated (your feet hit the ground more on the outside edge).

If you’re asking yourself how the way you walk could have anything to do with your lower back pain, we have one question for you. Have you ever heard of the domino effect?

Your feet are the foundation of your entire body. Pronated or supinated feet cause your knees to shift inwards or outwards, respectively. Once your knees are out of alignment, your hip posture becomes unsteady, resulting in a destabilized spine. And all of the sudden, all of the dominos have fallen.

The only difference between the game of dominos and your walking pattern’s influence on your spine is the speed in which things occur. It would take years of an irregular walking pattern to cause lower back pain, while a game of dominos is over in a few minutes. Years of an irregular walking pattern can cause lower back pain. Click To Tweet

Spinal Conditions Foot Orthotics May Help

Foot orthotics can only help manage pain caused by non-neurological causes. Below is a list of some of the conditions that may benefit from the use of foot orthotics:

  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Muscle strain – lower back
  • Facet syndromes
  • Sacroiliac joint syndromes
  • Lumbar spinal stenosis – without nerve root damage

If you are experiencing lower back pain, we urge you to look at the soles of your favorite shoes. By looking at the wear on the treads, you can often determine your walking pattern. If you discover your feet are pronated or supinated, foot orthotics may just help you manage your lower back pain.

Smoking And Back Pain

The news that smoking is bad for you is hardly groundbreaking. Smoking has been linked to serious diseases like lung cancer, emphysema, and heart disease. Did you know that smoking and back pain are also related? That’s right, if you’re a smoker and are experiencing back pain, smoking is probably part of the issue.

In our line of work, we see the effects of smoking in our patients far too often. So, if you or a loved one is suffering from back pain or preparing for a spinal fusion, this blog post may serve as another great reason to quit smoking.

Smoking And Back Pain

Smoking contributes to the hardening of arteries which decreases your overall blood flow. As you likely learned in a biology class at some point, blood provides nourishment to your body’s organs and structures.

When blood flow is restricted, the areas of your body fed by smaller vessels, like your bones and spinal discs, become severely undernourished. With little to no blood supply, these bones and discs rely on surrounding tissue for nourishment.

But since the surrounding tissues aren’t meant to provide nourishment, they will eventually become depleted, leaving your bones and discs to essentially starve. Once your bones and discs have reached this point, they can no longer repair themselves and will likely cause you pain.

Smoking And Spinal Fusions

One of the most common surgeries we perform is the spinal fusion. In this surgery, a bone graft is used to form a solid bridge between two vertebral segments. For a successful surgery, the bone graft and vertebral segments need to grow together. The problem is that smoking inhibits bone growth, which can cause the surgery to fail.

In fact, smokers are twice as likely to have an unsuccessful spinal fusion as non-smokers. Even if the surgery is successful, smoking accelerates disc degeneration. That means smokers are more likely to continue suffering from chronic pain.Smokers are twice as likely to have an unsuccessful spinal fusion as non-smokers. Click To Tweet

 
Here at Nebraska Spine Hospital, we know that it isn’t easy to quit smoking, which is why we don’t expect our patients to do it alone. We’ve implemented a Surgical Readiness Program to help prepare patients for a healthy surgery. Whether you need to quit smoking, start exercising or lose weight, we offer one-on-one support to help you reach that health goal and, ultimately, have a successful surgery.

Healthy Weight, Healthier Spine

Did you know that on average, an obese person in the US spends $1,429 more annually on medical bills? This may be in part due to the fact that obesity puts you at a much higher risk for heart disease, stroke, and Type 2 diabetes, among other things.

Being overweight or obese also increases your risk of developing back pain, joint pain, and muscle strains. Your risk of developing low back pain is heightened even more if you carry extra weight around your midsection as that weight pulls your pelvis forward, straining your low back. Sounds painful, doesn’t it?

Carrying around extra weight can also put unwanted pressure on other spinal structures, like your discs. Overweight and obese people are more likely to experience sciatica or low back pain due to a herniated disc or pinched nerve.

The complications of weighing in above a healthy weight are pretty bleak, but there’s a glimmer of hope on the horizon. A lot of the conditions listed above can be mitigated by weight loss. In fact, losing weight can even help prevent some of these conditions altogether.

For example, losing weight drastically lowers your risk of developing osteoarthritis. This is because the added weight strains your joints more, leaving you more susceptible to developing osteoarthritis. Once the weight is lost, the stress on your joints is relieved.

The two main components of weight loss are diet and exercise. It’s important to aim for good nutrition and a balanced diet. Each person’s dietary needs vary, so it may be a good idea to consult a nutritionist when you first begin watching what you eat.

As for exercise, if you’re already suffering from back pain, it may be hard to motivate yourself to exercise regularly. What you probably don’t know is that exercise actually stimulates healing in the spine.

Physical exercise causes the discs in your spine to swell with water and then squeeze it out, exchanging nutrients between the discs and the rest of your spine. When you don’t exercise regularly, your spinal discs are deprived of the nutrients they need to function properly.

In addition to maintaining a healthy spine, regular exercise also boosts your mood, helps you sleep better at night, and helps ward off those dangerous health conditions we mentioned above, to only name a few of the benefits.

 
Of course, before you implement a new exercise program, it’s important to consult your physician. As always, feel free to reach out to us with any spine-specific questions you may have.