Your back is one of the hardest working parts of your body. Having a strong back allows us to balance, walk and be active. It is also one of the most common sources for aches and pains. According to The Office of Disease Prevention & Health Promotion, 80% of all Americans experience low back pain in their lifetime.
If you experience back pain, don’t be alarmed! Most episodes of acute low back pain will resolve in a few days to a few weeks. In many cases, the pain may be severe but this does NOT mean you are damaging your spine. If you are concerned, you can follow up with your physical therapist, who will educate you on strengthening exercises, modification of activities, and pain management techniques until your pain resolves.
You WILL want to see your physician if you have one of the following:
· Bowel or bladder changes since the onset of your back pain
· Weakness, numbness or tingling in both legs
· Numbness in the inside of your thighs and/or pelvic region
When your goal is to strengthen your back, there are a lot of working parts to discuss: 24 vertebrae held together by ligaments and stabilized by more than 140 muscles. This complex system is one of the reasons physical therapists suggest working on your “core” strength.
When most people hear “core” muscles they think of their abdominals, which traditionally have been strengthened through crunches, sit ups, planks, and other similar exercises. It’s important to remember, however, that your “core” is made of more than your abdominals. In general, the “core” consists of the muscles surrounding your trunk, your hips and shoulders. These muscles provide support to the spine to control and assist with rotation, provide force when lifting, and stability when reaching, pushing or pulling.
Your physical therapist will often emphasize the importance of using good form during static and stabilizing exercises (exercises with little spinal movement) before you start doing more dynamic exercises (exercises with spinal movement). Just like any other structure in your body, if you put too much stress on the muscles in the back, you can be putting yourself at risk for injury.
Common symptoms and impairments that physical therapists treat include:
· Muscle spasms
· Muscle weakness
· Difficulty standing/sitting for long periods of time
· Difficulty lying flat or sleeping at night
· Numbness in your leg, ankles or feet
· Dull, aching sensation in your back or buttocks
· Stabbing or shooting pain down your leg
· Stiffness and/or decreased range of motion
So, if you are experiencing an episode of low back pain or have recurrent low back pain, it may be time to talk to a physical therapist to figure out how we can help you.
At David Gilboe & Associates, we have decades of experience helping patients reduce or eliminate low back pain, strengthen their muscles, and regain mobility!