One of the most frequent questions I get as a physical therapist is, “Hey Mark, what can I do to actually avoid/prevent low back pain and stiffness?”
So, here it goes:
1. Swim– daily if possible but at least twice per week. Problems like arthritis are multiplied when you stop or slow down. No Pool…No problem. You lucky to live Hawaii so slap on some sunscreen and get to da beach! No excuses on this one mainlanders!
Swimming offers a very simple and safe way of keeping joints moving. Putting your body into relative extension will counterbalance all the flexing type postures we endure from sitting all day. And a regular dose of moving in the water is way better than any medication or “magic” pills that promise joint lubrication (whatever that means…).
2. Stretch – “daily”. There isn’t a compromise here. You need to be stretching daily. My tip, 7 minutes on a morning when you first get up, 7 minutes on a night before bed (Doing Yoga just before bed can even help you find a much better nights sleep.)
3. Avoid long periods of sitting. You’re better off stretching full out on the couch than you are sitting in a chair for long periods (NO “slouching” though!). It has been said “sitting is the new smoking” which should give everyone a strong awareness of the detrimental effects of static immobility, in particular sitting, has on your back. Limit sitting to a maximum of 20 minutes at a time and ask your boss about a standing desk option for work stations.
4. Walk – for at least twenty minutes per day. Next time you need to make a long phone call, can you do it on your mobile and take a walk at the same time ? Btw – that will make a difference to your back pain – in a positive way.
5. Physical therapy – licensed movement experts, physical therapist can analyze your strength, mobility, flexibility and postural deficits/patterns and customize a program unlike any healthcare provider or gym rat. Routine manual therapy, joint mobilization, and prescribed exercise is the road map to your body. Be careful who you get directions from!
Simple but effective.
And you wanna know something else?
Most people accept stiffness/ back pain in their life as though it’s “normal”.
But it really isn’t.
Stiffness in joints such as back, neck, knee or ankle is a warning sign that something needs to be done. (Big Hint Guys…by you!!!!)
See you in the water,
Mark Perez, MSPT
Here at Oahu Spine & Rehab we offer an integrated health center in Kailua for all of your pain needs. With physical therapy, chiropractic care, massage therapy, spinal traction and more we are able to relieve your back pain starting from the root of the problem. If you are suffering from back pain or any other kind of pain, give us a call today to schedule an appointment at 488-5555!