The lower back, defined as the area between the ribs and upper legs, connects the upper and lower body, carrying most of the body’s weight. It can be easily strained or injured through overuse. Injury can come as a result of lifting, reaching or twisting the body.
The symptoms of lower back injuries include sharp pain that can be isolated to one area or spread over a larger area, muscle spasms and stiffness. At-home treatments include bed rest, along with icing the area for two to three days for 15 minutes every two to three hours, followed by using a heating pad for 15 minutes every two to three hours for two to three days.
If the lower back pain persists, you should see your doctor, who may recommend physical therapy. There also are some things you can do at home to help with back pain, such as laying on a hard floor and avoiding soft surfaces like couches, beds and recliners. You should always sleep on your side, wear low-heeled shoes, bend your knees when lifting heavy objects and be aware of what you can truly do with your body.
Exercise can play a factor in both preventing and healing lower back injuries. Some excellent activities include walking, swimming, strength training and any kind of cardio. The practice of yoga is very healthy for your back because it teaches the body balance and flexibility while strengthening muscles. Pilates is also very good for your back since it teaches body alignment and builds a strong core.
Every day, I practice yoga and Pilates to keep me flexible and pain-free. I also walk, either outside or on my treadmill, along with using a stationary bike. And I remind myself not to lift too much or do too much that could strain my muscles. When I do have a sore back, I take it easy but try to do my normal activities while using heating pads or ice to relieve the discomfort.
My theory is that back pain is your body’s way of saying, «Slow down and take care of yourself.»
Carrie Barrepski, a native of Livonia, Mich., lives in Western Massachusetts. You can learn more about Carrie at her Web site, www.carrie writes.net
She can be reached at [email protected]