Monthly Archives: March 2010

Posture and Your Back Pain

Unless you have a congenital disease causing you back pain or if your back pain has arisen from a serious illness, for the vast majority of people any back pain that develops can frequently be attributable to their posture, in relation to their spine, in one way or another. The key significance of posture and back pain is the efficient distribution of your body weight around the body’s center of gravity, especially in the lower back/spine, both when at rest and moving.

Back pain, bad posture and bad habits.

In the vast majority of cases where back pain arises from bad posture it is invariably due to the person developing bad habits with their posture, which over a period of years they fail to correct. The bad habit causing the back pain could be something as simple as sitting in a slumped manner in chairs or being in the habit of hunching the back or shoulders when upright – all of which should be avoided if you want to avoid back pain. Also, being considerably overweight, not to mention obese, is a common factor causing bad posture, resulting in back aches and pains in modern America society. So, even the bad habit of eating more than our body’s really need should be avoided if you also want to avoid back pain.

Your muscles and your posture.

When it comes to avoiding back pains through bad posture you first have to understand the role that your muscles play in protecting you against back pain. Without getting into a creative design/evolution argument – a problem inherent in all of us regarding our muscles and our backs is that the spine simply wasn’t originally designed for upright walking. To this end, and to help avoid back pain, it is widely believed that strong back, chest and stomach muscles are required for a good upright walking posture, according to the spine that we have evolved with or inherited if you prefer. Whilst these muscles are important we are actually as reliant, if not more so, on the smaller muscles and ligaments deep inside our bodies that clad or surround the spine, to keep it upright and in good posture so as to avoid the risk of back pain; which they do by minimizing any compressions of the spine. In case you don’t already know, muscles don’t operate in isolation but are reliant on strong tendons joining the muscle to bone and ligaments that surround bone joints keeping them in place. So, in keeping a good posture and reducing back pain risks you have to make sure these deep seated muscles supporting your spine are ‘fit for purpose’ by exercising them, something which people with modern sedentary lives can forget to do.

Minimizing back pain by controlling your posture.

Going to the gym and building up your back, chest or abdominal muscles is one way to help improve your posture and reduce any back pain you might be experiencing. However, just how do you exercise those muscles deeper inside your body that are so important to having a good posture? The fact here is that the only way you can exercise those inner muscles is by maintaining a good posture. The spinal muscles control two types of movements: voluntary ones such as bending, rotating, lifting, carrying and pushing. They also control some involuntary, or sub-conscious ones, including: controlling our balance, maintaining our good/erect postures and, almost ironically, maintaining a good tone of the spinal muscles. Supplementary to this, there are some exercise techniques that can further help some people, like Pilates and some forms of yoga, to develop good spinal muscles. However, and to some extent following from the earlier comment, the single most effective way to properly exercise the muscles that both protect and support your back is to be constantly aware of your posture, adjusting and improving it – until the muscles strengthen and remove or reduce the back pain you’re feeling. This doesn’t just mean maintaining a straight back, level shoulders and head-up posture when standing or walking; but needs to also mean that you’re thinking about your posture when sitting or lying down and if you are overweight – dieting and exercising regularly. Using the references below, you can find further information on recommended postures but – remember this has to be a lifetime commitment if you truly want to banish that back pain for ever.


Comment.
Here at finallypainless.com we advise you to visit your medical consultant regarding any back pain, as it could require further investigation. In compiling this article we would also like to acknowledge the following references:

  • http://georgiahealthinfo.gov/cms/node/128455?slide=2
  • http://www.umm.edu/spinecenter/education/rehabilitation_for_low_back_pain.htm
  • http://www.healthfinder.gov/prevention/PrintTopic.aspx?topicID=46
  • http://www.nwhealth.edu/healthyU/liveNaturally/backpain.html

Don’t let uncertainty leave you powerless!

Health care reform leaves many questions unanswered, but don’t let those questions worry you. Take your health into your own hands: visit your doctor if you have any questions (don’t be afraid to make an appointment); there are many products out there you can research and investigate yourself and have approved by your doctor. However, don’t rely on just any source you can find on Google – read what the experts are researching at centers like the Mayo Clinic, The FDA, National Institutes of Health, The Canadian Institute of Health Research, and other authorities in medical research.

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So what does health care reform mean for you?
There are many possibilities: some people believe that waiting lines will overwhelm emergency rooms; others believe that it will bring about a healthier, wealthier middle-class. One bias is the dogmatic, for-profit health organizations which would like you to believe that there are astronomical waiting lines in countries like Canada where Health Care is public. Generally they use extreme case scenarios as to scare the public health care system out of you. On the other end of the spectrum is the push for fully funded public Health Care by advocates such as Michael Moore. Moore raises great points in his documentary, Sicko, about the availability of universal health care that is present in many developed countries, and the fact that it leads to a healthier nation over all (in that a trip to the hospital does not break a middle class family).

In fact, the large bureaucracies can slow down health care waiting lines, while privately owned health care organizations can provide prime competition to the best surgeons possible. This must be weighed against the fact that private health organizations are designed with a loser in mind: that is, the winners are the shareholders, and the losers are those who cannot afford it and those who are left by the way-side due to unfairly rejected claims.

There are enough arguments on both sides to keep this debate going well into the next millennia; however, in order for you to make the most informed decision you need to explore the issue objectively from both sides. Do not be fooled by obscure, irrelevant claims, or fall prey to bogus statistical data. Read, research, explore, decide!

Health to Happiness

Persistant or Chronic Back Pain?

When you experience back pain your back is simply telling you that something is wrong with you physically and you need to repair the damage. Exactly the same as the pain we feel if cut with a sharp knife while cooking, resulting in us needing to repair the wound, feeling a back pain means something is wrong and needs to be healed. When we suddenly feel a pain anywhere in our bodies it is referred to as an acute pain. Back pains are invariably acute ones, which means that they will most often arise as soon as the back has been damaged.

Chronic back pains.

You will have read in detail elsewhere about how back pains can be caused, and generally speaking back pain can often result from an awkward movement or moving a heavy load. Not only can such actions cause back pains, but also they can cause pains elsewhere in our bodies, such as our arms and legs. Quite often a pain in the leg or arm can quite quickly heal itself by being rested. However, being a part of our bodies that we cannot refrain from using unless we keep ourselves totally immobile, unlike those other parts of the body it is very difficult to allow the back to rest and heal itself quickly. Consequently over a period of time although the back pain hasn’t gone away it can seem less intense. This effect is simply because over time, sub-consciously our bodies can become accustomed to a certain level of pain, so start to treat having the pain as almost a ‘new normality’. If a back pain persists for any period of time, even though it may seem less intense, then the back pain is said to be a chronic one.

Persistent back pain.

Whether your back pain is acute having suddenly come on or a chronic one, that you’ve had for some time, the one thing that can be guaranteed is that it will be persistent. The persistence of back pains is simply a way for your body to constantly remind you that you have a physiological problem with your back that needs healing. Even though the back pain signals remain persistent, in effect telling you to rest your back, you mustn’t stop using your back. If at all bearable it is vital that you keep your back gently exercised through the persistent pain. Indeed it is almost ironical that the very fact that you have a back pain means that in all likelihood the damage to your back isn’t too serious. Please note here, when mentioning exercising your back when you have a back pain – the emphasis is on gentle exercise to keep it mobile, nothing strenuous. Finally, whilst pain is a sensory response to something being wrong with our bodies, the experience of pain also has an emotional response within us. In other words, some people are better at coping with back pains than others. Whilst in some respects being able to cope with back pain is good, in that you can keep yourself more mobile, in the instance of persistent back pain – having a high back pain tolerance could mean that the back takes far longer to heal as you could be tempted to overburden it to soon.


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What to do when back pain strikes.

Whilst not wishing to labor the point, when back pain strikes you must keep your back mobile without causing it any further strain. If your back pain is a non-specific one, that is to say not caused by some underlying medical condition, it can strike in the upper back around the shoulders and neck, the middle of your back which will often give rise to lumbago back pains or they could be in your lower back, especially if caused by a trapped sciatic nerve. Simply by keeping the back mobile with gentle exercises, most people will find that within a few days or weeks at most, a lot the back pain will have dissipated and they are able to return to a normal life. If the back pain is persistent and intense then using an ‘over the counter’ painkiller from your pharmacy, or a preparatory back pain analgesic, will help you to manage the pain. Of course, you must never exceed the recommended dosage for any medications you decide to take. There are plenty of recommended back pain exercises to find on the internet; and for some people that have recurring back pains over long periods of time they can find things like acupuncture a benefit to them, in relieving their back pain. If you do find your back pain is a recurrent one that you can associate with a certain activity, it might pay you to re-consider how you do certain things; such as sitting at a computer desk or moving heavy loads, not to mention your general posture.


Comment. – Here at finallypainless.com we advise you to visit your medical consultant regarding any back pain, as it could require further investigation.
In compiling this article we would also like to acknowledge the following references:

  • http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Back_Pain/default.asp
  • http://familydoctor.org/online/famdocen/home/common/pain/treatment/117.html
  • http://www.hsc.virginia.edu/uvahealth/adult_orthopaedics/lowback.cfm
  • http://www.csmc.edu/5261.html