I have a history of ignoring the circumstances that triggered episodes of severe lower back pain. There were several times when I threw my back out and the pain was so severe that I needed to call out sick. In time, four things helped to minimize these episodes:
- Seeing a back specialist. Many years ago, an orthopedic physician recommended a heel lift. It was placed in my left shoe to level my posture. I learned that the alignment of my lower spine was slightly off and prevented an equal distribution of weight. Today, I can feel the difference between walking with and without my heel lift.
- Seeing a physical therapist. The back specialist referred me to a physical therapist who showed me specific exercises that strengthened the muscles around my lower back. Today, whenever I feel that my back muscles are weakened, I return to the exercises.
- My wife. She is an occupational therapist. She educated me about the importance of maintaining good posture whenever I am sitting. So whether I’m at the dinner table, at my desk, or in my car (yes, even a slightly reclined seat can increase the risk of back pain), I make sure to sit upright. Some of you may say that it’s hard to always sit upright (i.e., always preferring to slouch). But sitting in an upright position can make a world of difference between sitting comfortably and groaning because you’re unable to get up from your bed. This is especially true if you suffer from lower back pain
- Common sense. There are simple, common-sense practices that will go a long way with respect to back health. For instance, I learned to lift heavy objects with my knees, not my back. And if I’m lifting or moving several heavy objects, I make certain I’m wearing a back or waist support belt.
Of these four things, posture was the most challenging practice for me to achieve. Today, I seldom if ever slouch (even though there are times I prefer to so). When I take my car in for an oil change and the service specialist prepares to drive it to the service shop, he doesn’t understand how I can keep my car seat in an upright position.
While these four things helped me, do not go strictly by the above list for your own back care, especially if you suffer from back pain. Please always remember to consult your primary care provider or a specialist.
Here’s to good back health.
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