Few things are more painful than a back injury. It is one of the most common health conditions in this country, affecting eight out of 10 people at some point in their lives.
The complex network of bones, muscles, nerves and soft tissue in the back is particularly vulnerable to injuries, which can be caused by anything from poor posture and improper lifting to a herniated disk, sciatica or arthritis.
Back pain affects your whole body, from how you sit and walk to how well you sleep.
Once back pain hits, one of the first steps in treating it — and, ideally, preventing it from recurring — is getting an accurate diagnosis. Every so often, back pain is caused by something serious, like a fracture, tumor or infection, so it is important to see a doctor if you are suffering from persistent pain.
Even if you have never suffered from back pain, it is a good idea to talk to your doctor about prevention. Do you have a family history of arthritis or degenerative disk disease? Do you sit at a computer all day or do a lot of bending or heavy lifting? Working together, you and your physician can come up with a plan to avert problems.
Embrace prevention. The simplest prescription for preventing back pain is to get moving. Exercise combined with stretching is the foundation of good back health.
Your body is a dynamic structure that is meant to move. As you get older, your strength and range of motion decreases; unless you work the muscles that support the spine, you put yourself at greater risk for injury.
Walking and swimming are good low-impact activities that don’t put a lot of stress on the spine. Strength training builds the muscles that support the spine, and light stretching improves range of motion and flexibility.
I would like to stress the importance of performing the exercises properly. Have you seen people in the gym doing a gazillion crunches and wonder why they are not getting results, and why their back continues to hurt? With a regular crunch on the floor, you are limited to your range of motion, and to the muscles you are training. These people are targeting the outer layer of their abdominals, the rectus abdominis. The deepest part of the abdominals is the transverse abdominis, which attaches to the spine and helps support it.
With Bender Ball exercises (classes are available at the recreation center) you are taught to strengthen the deep layer of abdominal muscles. Additionally, on the Bender Ball you are getting back and forward flexion, which works your muscles more efficiently.
Oh, my aching back. Prevention is the key to avoiding pain and injury. Remember that.
Have you visited the PLPOA Website? Go to www.plpoa.com for neighborhood rules and regulations; financial reports; information on the various association departments; agenda for the monthly (second Thursday) board of directors meeting (which is posted on the Friday before the board meeting); notice of all work sessions (which are also posted on flyers at the Association clubhouse, administrative building and recreation center). And lots more. The website receives numerous hits and association members who visit it regularly are pleased with how quickly and efficiently information is available.