This is part 2 of a multi part series where we go over the most common causes of pain in different regions of the body. In today’s post, we discuss the most common parts of the low back that can cause you pain. Make sure to subscribe to our newsletter and to follow us on social media to stay up to date with the latest info on how you can get out of pain, and stay that way.
Welcome to Dr. Kuang's Blog!
This is the blog of Dr Simon Kuang, sports chiropractic physician. The writings found here serve inspire you to take advantage of your life and to live it to its fullest potential. There are so many things in this world that are mediocre, lets not let living your life be one of them.
In this series of videos, we’ll be going over the most common causes of pain in different regions of the body. In this blog post, we’ll be going over the anatomy of the shoulder, and how these different structures can cause pain. Make sure to subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on our various social media channels to get the latest information on how you can stay out of pain!
Overlooked Tips to Preventing Lower Back Injuries
Though your lower back is remarkably strong and flexible, it's also very prone to injury. Twisting, sudden movements, and lifting heavy objects can all cause your ligaments or muscles to stretch and/or develop microscopic tears. Poor posture and repetitive stress are also common causes of muscle strains and other soft tissue problems.
It's worth noting that even something as seemingly innocuous as a muscle strain can cause sharp pain in your lower back. Plus, due to the nerves connecting your spine to the rest of your body, a lower back problem can lead to hip issues, leg pain, and more. That's one of the main reasons why you should place great importance on protecting your lower back. Here are 7 tips to help you out.
1. Exercise Your Core
Strengthening your core muscles will provide additional support for your lower back, reducing the chances of injury. Cardiovascular exercises such as walking can increase blood flow to the spine, which in turn provides hydration and healing nutrients to your lower back.
2. Lift Objects Correctly
Lifting heavy objects is one of the most common causes of lower back injuries. To prevent this from happening, follow these three rules while lifting: bend at the hips, keep your chest forward, and keep the weight close to your body.
3. Correct Your Posture
If you're chained to your desk at work, consider getting an ergonomic chair that can support the natural curve of your spine. Once an hour, get up from your desk and walk around a bit. You can also set a timer that will remind you to check your posture while you're working.
4. Improve Your Physical Health
The lumbar spine is a great reflection of your overall health, which means it will benefit from any physical improvements. This includes drinking lots of water, getting enough sleep, avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol, and following an anti-inflammatory diet.
5. Prepare for Your Sport
Even if you're athletic, it's worth to familiarize yourself with any potential pitfalls of your favorite sport. For instance, runners are putting their backs through a lot of stress. Before going for a jog, remember to do a thorough warm-up, wear comfortable shoes, and find a forgiving surface for running.
6. Stretch Your Hamstrings
Tight hamstrings are a relatively obscure cause of lower back pain. Fortunately, hamstring stretching exercises are great at providing relief. Keep in mind, however, that not all of these exercises work for all types of lower back conditions; before going through with them, check with your doctor.
7. Travel Smart
For many people, traveling is a lower back killer. The seats in cars, buses, trains, and plains aren't always comfortable, and sitting for an extended period of time can cause your back to flare up. If you're facing a long trip, remember to lift luggage in stages, stretch your legs whenever you can, and bring your own back support.
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What the experts say...
Have you been suffering from headaches lately? Unfortunately, they are pretty common -- especially if you have poor posture or are dealing with stress issues. The good news is that there are a couple of ways to relieve your headache without relying on taking medication.
Now, most headaches are a byproduct of tight muscles and joints around your neck and upper back. The solution is immediately obvious: stretching exercises. You don't need any fancy equipment to perform them, and they only take a couple of minutes of your time. You can do them as soon as you wake up or during your work breaks.
Here is a list of 5 simple stretching exercises that should help you relieve your headaches.
1. Chin Tuck Stretch
While standing up straight, start bending your head forward. Your goal is to slowly guide your chin toward your chest until you're looking at the floor. Hold this position for 10 seconds, then release. Repeat this exercise 10 times.
2. Lateral Flexion Stretch
With your left hand on your hip, use your right hand to hold your left ear. Then, start gently pulling your head to the right -- this should result in a stretch that can be felt on the left side of your neck. Hold this position for 30 seconds, then use your other hand to repeat the process. Do this 3 times with each hand.
3. Cervical Extensor Stretch
While your head is bent forward, turn your head approximately 20-30 degrees to the left. Then, place your right hand on the base of your skull, and gently tilt the head forward. You should feel a stretch underneath your fingers. Hold for no more than 10 seconds, then repeat this process by turning your head to the right and using your left hand to stretch the other side. Repeat the exercise 5 times with each hand.
4. Cervical Rotation
Turn your head to the left as far as you can, hold it there for 3 seconds, then repeat the same thing on the right side. Do this 10 times in a row. This simple (but effective) exercise helps your neck joints slide on top of each other.
5. Shoulder Rolls
Looking for a good way to finish off your stretching session? Simply roll your shoulders forward 5 times, then roll them backward 5 times. In addition to being a helpful exercise in its own right, this will loosen the muscles you've been using during your stretches.
If you're prone to headaches, make sure to perform these exercises each day to prevent them from coming back.
Hey, lets face it: times are tough. Being an adult means that there are bills to pay, mouths to feed and things to do. This translates into more time spent at the workplace, and less time spent doing the things that you love with the people that you care about. With this being said, more and more people are looking for alternative ways to make a little bit of cash. Enter Uber. Uber, and other ride sharing services like Lyft and Sidecar, offer up a very unique solution to this time tested financial problem: the ability to work for decent pay when you want, without having to compromise your social life in the process. But that doesn’t mean that working for Uber doesn’t have its own set of unique consequences. And as I’m sure you’ve gathered by the title of this blog post, it can lead to low back pain! C’mon now, this is a blog that is authored by a chiropractor, what did you think this blog was going to be about? Allow me to explain.
If driving for Uber is your side gig, you’d work 15 hours a week, and to make a livable wage for Uber, which is around $50,000, you would have to drive upwards of 50 hours a week. So on average, an Uber driver works 30-35 hours a week. Now, in a blog that I am going to release in the coming weeks, where I will outline why sitting is the new smoking, I’ll talk about how sitting has a butt-load of negative health consequences. But for now, let’s focus on how sitting is terrible for your low back. And here’s why:
Let’s start with a brief anatomy lesson on a very important muscle in the front of your body: The Iliopsoas. This muscle is located in the front of your hip, and is responsible for bringing your hip into flexion (think bringing your knee towards your chest). This muscle starts up top and originates at the vertebra and their discs in your low back, known as the lumbar spine. It then works its way across the hip joint and inserts onto your upper leg bone, or femur. The thing about muscles is they behave like cement (its quite a bit more complex than that, but this is a good metaphor, so bare with me for a moment). If you keep cement moving like when it’s being transported in a cement mixing truck, it stays fluid and doesn’t solidify. But when it reaches the job site and gets poured out and stays still, it solidifies. Let’s bring it back to the world of muscles. When you sit for any prolonged amount of time, like say, when you’re driving for Uber, your Iliopsoas stays put and doesn’t move. It then solidifies in this shortened position and won’t want to stretch out. Now when you get out of your car and stand up after an 8 hour Uber session, your iliopsoas muscle pulls on its attachment site on your low back, creating a sharp pain in your lumbar spine.
Now that we understand why Ubering is so terrible for your low back, what can we do about it? Well, to be honest, this is a chiropractic blog for my business, so the businessman in me wants me to just tell you to call my office to make an appointment to come in for some treatment. But, the doctor in me is going to tell you to stretch; and if that doesn’t work, then come in for a treatment.
You can stretch the Iliopsoas in 2 different ways, and I’ll walk you through each of them. The basic premise behind these techniques is simple, to create hip extension (think kicking your leg back behind you). But here’s a little disclaimer before I go into the stretches. There are plenty of other reasons for why you might be suffering from low back pain. If you’re reading this blog post, sweating up a storm from the your low back pain, taking 8 – 10 Advils a day to manage it, and wanting to punch everyone you see in the face, I’m sorry, this stretch is not for you. If this is you, please make an appointment with me, or another well-qualified physician.
1. Standing Iliopsoas Stretch
Get into a split leg stand like you’re going to do a lunge. If you’re clumsy like most people, be sure to give yourself enough side-to-side width so you don’t lose your balance and break a hip. Keep your upper body as upright as possible, without hyperextending your low back. Take a moment to check your back hip and to make sure that it is squat with the rest of your body. Now take a look at your back foot and make sure that your toes are pointed forwards. If you’ve accomplished these two body positions, start to bend your front knee forwards, without changing the angle of your upper body. If you are a master yogi, and want to earn some extra credit, you can do a side bend towards your front leg to really add some stretch to that Iliopsoas. You should be feeling a stretch in the front of your hip joint. Hold this position for a minute and switch legs. Do this a couple of times throughout the day, for the next couple of days, and see if it brings forth some relief.
2. The couch stretch
This next one is one of my faves. If you’ve spent any amount of time in the world of crossfit, chances are that you’ve heard of a gentleman by the name of Kelly Starrettof San Francisco Crossfit and his website, MobilityWod. I learned this one from the man himself, and I’m going to share it with you guys here. Kelly, if you’re reading this, and you’ve copyrighted the name “couch stretch”, I apologize, please don’t sue me. Side note: can you copyright a stretch? I digress…
Start by jamming one of your knees into a corner of a couch with the foot of your other leg firmly planted on the ground, and your upper body folded over your front leg. While in this position, square your hips like in the last stretch; push your butt back towards the backrest of the couch. When you’ve accomplished this, without moving any joints besides your hip joint, extend your body upwards like a drawbridge towards the back of the couch. If you’re too tight, and can’t get into a fully upright position, then stop there. For those of you limber enough to get into the upright position, continue on to the next step. In this upright position, squeeze the butt of the leg that’s on the couch, and now you should feel a pretty gnarly stretch in the front of your hip.
I’m going to guess that by now, you have gathered that this article isn’t really about how Uber can lead to low back pain, but about how sitting can do so. I put Uber in the title to up my search engine results and to earn your readership. With that being said, everybody in today’s modern society can benefit from a little couch stretching. If you liked this blog post, share it with your buddies and leave a comment below to let me know how those stretches worked out for you.