Did you know that 80% of all individuals suffer from low back pain at some point in their lives? At times, the cause can be a specific injury. In other cases, the cause cannot be accurately determined. Low back pain is the second most common reason for a visit to the doctor's office (the first is upper respiratory tract infections).
What Causes Low Back Pain?
The spine is a complex structure made up of bones, joints, ligaments and muscles. It can be injured in several ways. It’s possible to sprain ligament
s, muscles or get a bulging or herniated disc. These are just some of the factors that can lead to low back pain. There can be times when the simplest movement (bending down to pick up a pencil from the floor, picking up your child) can lead to severe pain.
Will My Back Heal Itself?
Unlike muscles and bone, the lower back is a complex part of the body that does NOT "heal" on its own. It is critical to identify the underlying cause (which is where we help you) so that you can get long lasting relief.
The persistence of low back pain was revealed in a study by Hestbaek and colleagues in 2003. The study revealed that back pain lasted longer than 30 days for over 33% of people who experienced low back pain. Also, very few people (9% to be exact) with low back pain remained pain free after 5 years.
What If I Suffer From Long-Lasting Back Pain?
Persistent, chronic pain is more than just an inconvenience. It can make daily activities painfully challenging and limit your ability to do the things you enjoy. You may find it difficult to play with your chi
ldren and complete tasks at home or work. Pain can also confine you to staying indoors. It can substantially limit your social life.
That’s not all. Many individuals cut back on physical activity. This leads to muscle weakness, which causes more pain and weakness. This triggers a vicious cycle that grows worse with each passing day.
Physical therapist can help break this painful cycle! In most cases, we can help individuals with long-lasting back pain feel improvement shortly after starting physical therapy.
Can I Prevent My Back Pain From Returning?
Here are some tips from our physical therapists to keep your spine healthy and pain-free:
- When lifting an object, bend at your knees, not your back. Be sure to squat with the correct technique to pick up an object. Keep your back straight and keep the object close to your body.
- Avoid twisting your body while lifting anything.
- When sitting, make sure your feet are flat on the floor and your back is straight.
- Avoid sitting for long periods of time. If you must, make sure to stand up and stretch frequently.
- The right footwear can protect your spine. Flats or low heels are safer than heels.
- Avoid sitting on the couch for too long, since it de-conditions the muscles surrounding your spine.
- Exercise regularly. Increasing muscle strength with the right exercises (which we can teach you) will minimize pain and injury.
Don’t neglect your low back, even if you are pain free. We can teach you several preventative exercises and conduct a postural evaluation to determine if you may be at risk for back pain.
What are you waiting for? It’s time to get you 'back' to pain-free living.
In a 21st century office, work typically involves a lot of sitting in an office chair (usually in front of a computer). Did you know that sitting actually puts more stress on your spine than standing?
To avoid developing lower back problems, it's critical to use an office chair that's ergonomically designed. What does ergonomics mean? It is the applied science of equipment design (in the workplace) intended to maximize productivity by reducing an individual's fatigue and discomfort. An ergonomic chair, for example, is one that supports your lower back and helps maintain good posture.
The big question is - How do we identify the ideal ergonomic office chair?
All ergonomic chairs are not built the same. Since every individual is built differently, it is best to look for a chair that can be easily adjusted in terms of chair height, armrest height and back inclination. There are many types of office chairs and no single chair is the best, but a few simple tips can save your joints a lot of discomfort. You are about to avoid the biggest mistakes most individuals make with chair selection. If you have any doubts, speak with a physical therapist to help you find the right chair for your specific needs.
Five KEY Factors For Identifying an Ergonomic Office Chair
Five key factors to consider while choosing an ergonomic chair:
- Seat height. This should be adjustable. Depending on your height, this should be between 16 to 21 inches from the floor. When sitting, your feet should be flat on the floor and your thighs horizontal (or parallel) to the floor.
- Seat width and depth. Standard seat width is 17-20 inches. The depth (from the front to the back of the seat) needs to be enough so that you can sit with your back against the backrest with about 2-4 inches between the back of the knees and the seat of the chair. The forward or backward tilt of the seat should be adjustable because the right inclination can significantly reduce the strain on your lower back (call us to learn more)
- Backrest. The ideal backrest should be 12 to 19 inches wide. It should be able to support the natural curve of the spine. The more we sit, the more we tend to slouch. Therefore, proper lumbar support provided by your chair’s backrest is very important to help support your spine.
- Armrests. Office chair armrests should be adjustable. They should allow your arms to rest comfortably and shoulders to be relaxed. The elbows and lower arms should rest lightly, which means the armrests should neither be too high nor too low.
- Swivel. This allows you to easily rotate to reach different areas of your desk without straining your spine.
Picking the right office chair can help you avoid the agony of low back pain or neck pain associated with full-time desk jobs. Too much time at the computer or several hours a day on the phone can also put your spine at risk. To learn more about ergonomics and correct body mechanics, contact
Chair Tips To Help You Live Pain-Free
Here are some quick tips to help protect your spine while sitting on a chair:
- The backrest should support the curve of your spine and provide good lumbar support.
- The seat should be comfortable and allow your feet to rest flat on the floor or footrest.
- The armrests of your chair should be soft, allow your shoulders to relax and your elbows to stay close to your body.
- The chair should have a five-leg base with casters that allow easy movement along the floor.
Remember to take breaks when sitting for long periods at at time. Follow the 50-10 rule. For every 50 minutes of sitting at your desk, take a 10-minute break. Activities that involve standing or walking are always a good idea. Also, be sure to include some stretching exercises for your muscles.
If you experience any discomfort from your current chair, take
precautions to prevent serious injury. The following warning signs often result from extensive computer use or prolonged sitting at your desk and should never be ignored:
- Numbness, tingling or weakness in the arm, hands or wrist
- Shoulder pain
- Neck pain
- Low back pain
- Numbness, tingling or weakness in your legs
If you experience any of the symptoms mentioned above, talk to your doctor. As they say, prevention is better than cure and that's where we come in. The right chair can indeed save your spine.
As children head back to school in September, a disturbing new trend is emerging. Young children are suffering from back pain much sooner than generations before them. A major contributing factor seems to be a heavy backpack. Most parents (and children) are unaware of the potential injury that heavy backpacks can cause. A recent news release by the American Physical Therapy Association in April 2009 revealed that more than 50 percent of children surveyed carry backpacks that are too heavy.
If a backpack is stuffed with heavy books and/or worn incorrectly, the bio-mechanical pressure on the spine increases dramatically. As a result, your child may lean forward to compensate. This can cause shoulder, neck, or back pain.
To help your child’s back, here’s what you can do:
- Pack smart. Make sure that your child gets in the habit of cleaning out their bag daily, leaving things that aren’t needed at home or in the locker.
- Distribute weight evenly. Teach your child to wear both straps, not just one. This helps to distribute the weight evenly.
- Pay attention to your child’s posture. If your child is slouching or leaning over to one side, chances are that the backpack is too heavy. If there are any signs of pain, tingling, or numbness consult your doctor or physical therapist immediately.
- Get the “right” backpack. Consider getting a backpack with multiple compartments to keep the weight more evenly distributed. Make sure there are 2 wide and well-padded straps that add comfort to the shoulder. If the bag has one strap, the weight distribution is uneven, causing the child to lean forward or to the side. Also, tighten the straps so the backpack is close to the body and rests in the middle of the back, not at the buttocks.
- Lift the backpack properly. Teach your child how to lift the backpack correctly by bending at the knees and lifting with both hands before putting it on.
- Reduce the load. Doctors and physical therapists strongly recommend children carry bags that are no more than 10-15% of their body weight. However, less is always better. This means that if your child weighs 100 lbs, the backpack should weigh no more than 15 lbs to avoid injury.
Backpacks come in all shapes, sizes, and colors and they can be a lot of fun when picking out.
Compared to purses, totes, and laptop bags, backpacks are better as they use the strongest muscles of the body (the back and abdominals) to support the weight of the bag. With both
straps being used, the weight of the bag is evenly distributed across the body, unlike a heavy purse or bag on one side.
Backpacks are very helpful, but they can also strain your child’s muscles and joints and may lead to back pain if they are too heavy.
If you are not sure if your child is wearing his/her backpack the “right” way, consult with a physical therapist to learn the right posture and exercises for a healthy back.
Tell Your Kids You Have Their Backs, And So Do We!
Your child does not have to suffer from shoulder, neck, or back pain due to carrying or lifting a heavy backpack.
If your child experiences any pain or discomfort resulting from backpack use, physical therapists can help!
We conduct a thorough examination and help avoid discomfort or injury. We also prescribe the best, most efficient exercises to help address any impairment and help your children (and you) to develop stronger muscles, improve posture, and return to normal, pain-free activities.