Millions of people in all continents of the world suffer from spinal disorders. These include low back pain, neck pain, scoliosis and disc disease, to name but a few. Spinal pain and disability can have a profound effect on a person’s overall health, sometimes preventing them from working or even doing simple daily activities.
Research has demonstrated that poor posture and inactivity are major contributors to the development of back pain and other spinal disorders. According to the World Health OrganiSation, one in four adults is not active enough and over 80 percent of adolescent population is not active enough.
Many people think lifting is how you hurt your back. We now know that sitting slumped and standing stooped are probably just as stressful for the back as lifting. This is especially true if slumping or stooping involve long periods without much movements or change of position.
Sound familiar? That’s exactly what most of us do too much at work and leisure, sit slumped or stand stooped. It is no surprise, then, that back pain is a nagging problem for many of us.
TWO BACK PAIN BASICS
1. Back pain is rarely the result of one incident or injury. To have a healthy back, you must understand that most back injuries result from the cumulative effects of months or even years of:
• Poor posture
• Faulty body mechanics
• Stressful living and working habits
• Loss of flexibility and strength
• Lack of physical fitness
• Improper lifting
• Weak abdominal muscles
• Tight hamstring muscles
• Emotional tension
All these can eventually lead to a back problem. If you understand this, it will become clear that changing some of these factors can prevent or even cure a back problem.
2. Back pain is not the same thing as a back problem. A back problem begins to develop long before the first episode of pain. The problem is usually still there after the pain subsides.
The pain is usually caused by a simple twist, a slip or even by sneezing. This minor injury- whatever it is - irritates the stiff and weak soft tissue structures in the back and causes a painful episode of muscles spasm and swelling. As the episode runs its course, the important treatment becomes preventing the next episode. So, prevention and treatment principles are really one and the same.
The key to having a healthy back is maintaining good balance in your spine as much as possible. A four-legged animal’s spine supports weight like a beam, but the human spine supports weight like a pillar. Every time we stand or sit up our backs must work against gravity to support a top heavy structure. To help absorb this shock and provide flexibility, the normal human spine has four gentle, continuous curves. These natural curves in your back let the various structures in the spine share the stress and the weight.
If you have a sway back, a flattened back, rounded shoulders or a forward head, or if you spend long periods of time in stressful positions your spine is not in its normal balance. This can strain the ligaments and the other portions of the spine.