. Let’s discuss how the parts of the back can be injured. Any one of these injuries will cause pain and may limit or even restrict your ability to move. Unfortunately, if you do suffer a back injury, you will probably become much more familiar with some of these terms than you would like.
A strain is what most “weekend warriors” experience because they push their unconditioned backs too hard by overusing or overstretching their back muscles.
A sprain is diagnosed when a sudden movement causes a ligament to tear. This is usually the result of years of abuse, until the ligament is so fragile that a small movement might cause it to finally tear.
A bulging disk is when the disk begins to come out between the two vertebrae it is supposed to cushion and separate. This can result in painful pressure on the spinal cord or other nearby organs. Often, the back muscles will try to compensate for the injury and cause additional pain when they become strained.
A herniated disk is diagnosed when the disk is actually leaking its gel-like fluid. The disk may lose its ability to cushion and will result in pressure on the vertebrae, spinal cord, and possibly other organs.
. Back injuries are typically a combination of the causes listed on this slide that weaken the back over years until one day something snaps.
Poor posture can result in back pain. How often have you woken up with a sore back because you “slept funny”? Sitting or standing for long periods of time can result in back pain.
Having an unconditioned back will often result in back pain. This usually occurs when someone who normally doesn’t use his or her back becomes a “weekend warrior” and takes on a home project that requires a lot of lifting or stress on the back. This person will suffer pain because the unconditioned back is not used to the strain. Having a potbelly puts constant stress on the back that will gradually weaken the back and result in pain or injury. Bad lifting techniques such as bending over or twisting can result in sudden back pain.
. Our backs have a natural “S” curve that we want to try to maintain at all times. Standing straight with your shoulders back, your head up, and your feet shoulder width apart will help prevent back pain. Make a conscious effort not to slouch your shoulders or hang your head down. When required to stand for long periods of time, putting a foot up on a bar, rail, ledge, or a step stool will help the back maintain its natural curves and be more comfortable.
Sitting properly is also very important. How often have you felt sore after sitting for long periods of time? Do not slouch forward or lean to the side. Sit up straight against the chair’s backrest, with your shoulders back, and your head up. Your thighs should be parallel to the floor and your feet should be flat. For some people, placing their feet flatly on a slanted footrest is beneficial. When required to type for long periods of time, make sure your keyboard and chair are at the right height to allow you to keep your shoulders back and your elbows bent so that your forearms are parallel to the ground.
Sleeping properly is also important. Sleeping on your side is the best way to maintain the back’s natural curves. Sleeping on your back or stomach may put unnecessary stress or pressure on your back.
Changing your posture frequently, getting up to stretch, etc., will dramatically help prevent back pain. If you do experience back pain, you may tend to slouch or bend to the side to help reduce the pain and be more comfortable. This is bad posture, even if it hurts. Don’t adapt bad posture