Unless you have had a significant spine injury, you probably do not need to use a support belt when lifting at work. Support belts have not been shown to effectively reduce back injuries among workers who lift. Actually, workers who use these devices often gain a false sense of security and may hurt themselves by lifting too much. Long-term use of a lumbar support belt has been shown to actually weaken abdominal and back muscles. This is because the brace becomes the source of low back support instead of your trunk muscles. A brace may be prescribed if you have had a recent or severe spine injury. However, you will likely be instructed to use it on a short-term basis only and to continue with an abdominal strengthening program.
After spine surgery, it is possible that you may develop back discomfort in the future. To take care of your spine if soreness or other symptoms return, your physical therapist will give you a thorough home program when you complete your therapy treatments. Continuing with your home program is a way to keep your spine healthy over time. He or she may also show you how to control pain or other symptoms if they do not completely go away, or if they return in the future. These may include the use of ice, heat, positioning, or rest.
Common factors in chronic and recurring back pain include weak abdominal and trunk muscles, unhealthy posture, and overall deconditioning due to lack of exercise. Back exercises should be chosen to offset each of the problem areas that contribute to back pain. Lumbar and abdominal stabilization: Studies show that exercise training for the abdominal and low-back muscles can improve back stability, reduce pain, and make it easier to do activities of daily living.
Postural exercises: Putting safe posture in action is important to protect your back from small injuries that add up when the spine is strained in awkward or stationary postures.
Aerobic conditioning: A well-rounded program for maintaining a healthy spine should include some form of aerobic exercises. Examples may include walking, cross-country skiing, or swimming. It is important that you choose an aerobic activity you enjoy, so you’ll stick with it. Remember to always check with your doctor or physical therapist before beginning an exercise program.
Poor sitting posture can cause back pain. Be sure to sit with your spine in good upright alignment. Improve your sitting posture by using a comfortable chair designed to support optimal posture. Avoid slouching by keeping your low back firmly against the back of the chair. Slouching your spine can strain your neck forward, putting extra pressure on the nerves and arteries leading to your arms. Your shoulders should be relaxed, and your elbows, hips, and knees should be bent at right angles (90 degrees). Avoid putting pressure on the back of your knees. Your feet should be kept flat on the floor or supported by a footrest. If your chair does not give you the support you need to keep in good body alignment, you may need a new chair. Otherwise, try placing a rolled towel or pillow against the small of your back, or consider purchasing one of the many commercial lumbar cushions that are available to help improve your sitting posture.
Not necessarily. Abdominal crunches do help strengthen the upper abdominal muscles. But many people with chronic back pain already have fairly strong upper abdominals. Chronic back pain has been linked to a loss of muscle quality and nerve function in the lower abdominals. These problems in the lower abdominals mean that other muscles, including the upper abdominals, must take over and do more of the lower abdominals’ job.
Strengthening the upper abdominals with exercises like abdominal crunches may help low back pain feel a little better. But strengthening the lower abdominals is more important in preventing and treating low back pain. Working the lower abdominals can improve your core strength, holding your spine steady as you lift, push, and pull. Increased core strength can also help ease your pain and get you back to your daily activities.
Using a healthy spine posture is like holding a defense shield against aches and pains in your spine. Spine Pain and injury CAN be prevented. When your joints are positioned in their safe – or neutral – postures, your body works like an elegant machine. It works safely and even more productively. When unbalanced postures are used, problems with your spine are more likely to happen. Prevention of spine pain and injury has a lot to do with keeping a balanced position in your spine and extremities.