Back & neck pain

Keeping your back strong and healthy

In our stressful, fast-paced society, so many of us have "bad backs"  that turn pleasurable activities into painful chores. Fortunately, there are many things you can do now to protect your back and improve your life. Physical therapy can help improve posture, teach proper exercise, reduce stress, and assist in educating patients in proper body mechanics.

Most back and neck pain is associated with poor posture and weak core muscles. In this techological age, the spine conforms to the posture that we assume to perform our jobs and hobbies. If you do not practice good posture and utilize your core muscles, back & neck pain can develop. A physical therapist can educate patients in good posture and exercise plan to prevent neck and back pain.

Next to good posture, the greatest support you can give your back is a good exercise program to build strong muscles in your abdomen, back, and upper legs. Strong abdominal muscles help maintain the back's three natural curves which must be in balanced alignment for a healthy back. Exercise is also important for improved flexibility because tight muscles can increase the chance of back injury. Stretching exercises which make muscles more flexible and motion easier, are also a good way to warm up before more vigorous exercise.

Stress reduction:
Proper posture and good core strength will decrease the overall stress on back and neck muscles. Physical therapist are also able to advise patients in general relaxation techniques such as diaphragmatic breathing.  

Proper body mechanics:
Many back injuries are the result of improper lifting, for example, bending over the object that you are lifting. If you twist in this position, you increase your risk of back injury by tenfold.To lift safely, you have to keep your back straigh and bend at the knees. This shifts the weight onto your strong leg muscles and reduces the risk of straining your back.

Here are six steps for proper lifting.

  1. Get a firm footing. Keep your feet as far apart as your shoulders and your toes pointing out.
  2. Don't bend at the waist. Bend your knees instead.
  3. Tighten your stomach muscles. They support your spine when you lift.
  4. Lift with your legs, not your back.
  5. Keep the load close to your body. It exerts less force on your back.
  6. Keep your back upright when lifting or putting down the load. Avoid twisting.