Most of us don’t think about our back unless it’s giving us pain – and 75 percent of us will experience back pain at some point in our lives. This can range from a “strain” that leaves us feeling tight and sore, to a back that’s completely “out,” which likely involves ligamentous injury, discal insult, and possibly neural irritation (aka sciatica).
Whether you’ve had a back injury or want to prevent one, there are some basic things you can do to reduce the risk of a low back injury.
First, let’s do a quick self-assessment. Stand up, kick off your shoes, and find an area with a few feet of space.
- Stand with your feet together and bend over. Can you touch your toes?
- Keeping your feet together, reach your arms overhead and extend backwards. Do your shoulder blades comfortably go beyond the line of your heels?
- Feet still together, give yourself a hug and twist in one direction, then the other.
Can you see something directly behind you? Do both directions feel equal?
- With your feet together, lift one foot as you bend your knee (like you’re marching). Can you stand for 10 seconds without losing your balance on the first attempt
- Spread your feet shoulder-width apart and squat with your arms overhead. Are you able to squat with your hips below your knees (beyond 90 degrees)?
- Lie on the floor. Can you stand up without using your hands?
How did you do? If you were able to comfortably complete all of these maneuvers, you’re in pretty good shape. But if you had pain or difficulty with any of these movements, you may be at risk of low back pain or more serious injury.
Written by Austin Woods PT, DPT, Physical Therapist
Visit a physical therapist for a low back assessment. We’ll begin with a comprehensive evaluation of your unique condition, and develop a highly individualized treatment program utilizing the most effective methods currently known to relieve pain and strengthen your back.