Unfortunately most of us will suffer from back pain at some point in our lives. Back pain is the second most common reason people in America visit the doctor, and this often disabling condition affects millions of Americans every year. Nearly 3 million Americans are chronically disabled by their back pain. Back pain is a serious issue and it causes millions of lost work days as well as puts a strain on healthcare resources, particularly in the senior population.
But although back pain is common, you don’t have to resign yourself to suffering. There are reasons why people suffer back pain, and things you can do to prevent the pain striking. One key way is doing exercises to improve your posture and less back pain. If you already have a bad back, this strategy will also help ease discomfort and help you become more active with less pain.
Back Pain and Posture
The reasons for back pain are as individual as the people themselves that suffer from the condition. Back pain may be caused by a sports injury – back injuries keep athletes out of training and sportspeople out of the team for weeks or even months. Back pain could be caused by a road traffic accident, or by lifting heavy objects the wrong way. If you perform repetitive activities at home or work you are at risk of back pain.
Back pain may also be a result of something you have absolutely no control over – a congenital condition or inherited disease. But in most cases you do have control over whether your back hurts or works – there are plenty of things you can do to prevent the problem of back pain. In particular, one back pain strategy that really works is to pay attention to your posture.
Exercises to Improve Your Posture
Posture is the position you put yourself in when you stand, sit, lift, bend, pull, reach and stretch. Posture can be good or bad. When your posture is good the bones in your spine align correctly and your back is well-supported.
On the other hand, when your posture is poor in either a standing or a sitting position you put your back under greater strain and cause misalignment of the bones in the spine. You can improve your posture and chase away back pain by following these strategies:
Imagining: Mind is a powerful tool and one of the most important you have to improve your posture and help your back. Imaging good posture puts you on the path to achieving it. When you can picture yourself with perfect posture the effort translates into reality. Stand up straight and imagine a line going through your whole body from the floor to the ceiling.
Your body should be evenly aligned to this path. Once you feel you are standing tall and straight, picture a strong rope attached to the top of your breastbone pulling your rib cage and your chest upwards. Stretch your head so it reaches towards the ceiling, and broaden the space as much as possible between the ribs and the pelvis.
Squeeze Your Shoulder Blades: Sit in a chair with your back straight and your hands resting lightly on your thighs. Keep your chin level and maintain your shoulders in a downward position. Draw your shoulders back towards the center of your back and squeeze them together. Hold the squeeze for five counts then release the squeeze and relax. Do it four or five times. You can do this while you are sitting at your desk, or watching TV. This exercise helps focus attention on the area in your back that can suffer from poor posture.
Stretching the Upper Body: Stand facing the corner of the room. Place your hands flat against the wall with your arms at shoulder height. Put one foot in front of the other. Bend forward on your front knee and exhale. Keep your chest and head held high and your back straight. Hold the position, leaning into the corner, for 20 to 30 seconds. Relax, and then try it again as needed.
Stretching the Arms: Have raised right arm of yours to shoulder level reaching out in front of you and bend the arm towards the left side. Take right elbow of yours with the left hand and try to pull it to the left side of your body. Pull the arm across chest of yours and hold the stretch for 20 seconds. Relax, and again repeat by switching the arms. Do the exercise three times on each side.
These are all strategies you can do throughout the day in order to practice your posture and pay attention to how you are using your spine and your upper body. If back pain persists use resistance bands as you walk and exercise in order to help minimize discomfort while you are working on your posture. Fitness resistance bands take pressure off your back, knees and hips so you can focus on exercises to improve your posture and minimizing pain.