A sore back affects your entire body

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Commentary by Kim Rockey, MS

Sore low back? Strained back muscles? Feelings of tightness across your shoulders?

Sometimes for no apparent reason, our backs “go-out” and activities of daily living become difficult. We wonder why because we haven’t really done anything out of the ordinary to cause pain – or so we think.

The reality is that our backs play such a crucial role in our overall health. Another reality is that back injuries of any kind are cumulative, causing prolonged pain and discomfort.

Some overlooked causes of back strain are stress, poor walking/running gait, and improper body mechanics. Fortunately we can easily address these causes to build and maintain a healthy back.

Stress has ways of affecting our physicality, posture, and alignment. Using stress-reduction techniques like mindful breathing, yoga, meditation or massage lowers stress as we all know.  Lower stress helps our muscles relax, our bodies move more fluidly, and reduces tension specifically centered around the neck, shoulders and upper back.

Proper foot wear – from trail running shoes to walking shoes – helps improve and maintain a healthy walking or running gait. Everyone’s foot strike on the ground is slightly different – so having the correctly fitted shoe helps lower the risk for back strain.

Body mechanics – how the body moves and balances through various ranges of motion –focuses on the relationship between muscle constriction and the skeleton. Whether you’re simply picking up a heavy load of laundry or using free-weights in the gym, how you align your body and engage your primary muscle groups can have a significant impact on your back. Your posture while performing household chores or gym exercises is important.  Working with a personal trainer can help you know proper form and alignment.

There are three exercise principles to consider regarding a healthy back. These are:

  • Strengthening the core and abdominals
  • Stretching hamstring muscles
  • Focusing on low back muscle strengthening exercises

These three fundamentals help lead to a sound, strong back.

Finally, one more consideration. Unless advised by a physician, don’t leave a sore back at complete rest. With proper supervision and correct form, regularly engaging your back muscles to strengthen can help alleviate a sore back.


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