Spine-Low Back Health

Whether your are a work out enthusiast or you simply can’t even begin to think of working out or exercising, understanding the importance of Low Back Health is essential to your overall quality of life and reducing injury. My neighbors recently began remodeling their pool.  The guy that came out to check out their pool and begin the process was wearing a back brace.  I asked him why the brace.  He told me that he pulled it helping his little boy learn to ride a bike.  I knew my next post needed to be about Low back Health. And so it goes…..

What is the Spine Really?

The spinal column is extremely important and vital in proper movement and messaging throughout your body.  The Spine consists of 33 bones stacked over one another.  A variety of muscles and ligaments connect these bones and keep them properly aligned….or hopefully anyway.  You then have your spinal cord which runs about 18 inches long from the vrain to your Lower back (at your first Lumbar Vertebra). Damage to the Spinal Cord is serious and can result in loss of both motor and sensory function. 31 nerves extend out from the spinal cord. These nerves relay messages to the spinal cord and throughout the rest of your bosy, creating movement and sensation.

Now muscles are connected to bones via ligaments like I mentioned above. You are able to bend over, move and flex your back muscles, sit, stand, and much more from the muscles of the back. They create the protection and the movement for you Spinal Column. Have you bent over and felt a twinge in you lower back?  That is a muscle or series of muscles throwing out a defense mechanism and warning you to step back or ease up, otherwise damage to the Vertebrae and potentially nerves could occur.

This all being stated, the way you care for the muscles of your back is very important. Today we focus specifically on the lower back being so many people have low back problems and pain.  The Low Back is consists of your lumbar vertebrae, your sacrum, and the coccyx. There are many muscles associated with the low back area, both deep and superficial.

There are distinct things to consider when it comes to low back health and well being.

  • Flexibility.  Flexibility helps to create a normal curvature of the the lower spine. This necessary otherwise the way you move is compromised. Compromised movement can create tightness and pain in the hamstrings, which can in turn lead back to low back pain.
  • Hamstrings. The flexibility of your hamstrings is very important. Without it a host of other issues and the non-mobility of the pelvis will lead to increased pain and even injury.
  • Abdominal Strength.  I like to thing of the abs as your “front spine”. Strengthened abdominal muscles help take a load of the lower back as well as protect it from pain and injury.  Think of sitting. Without a strong core (abdominals) you tend to slouch over extending your low back and placing stress and compression on the vertebrae….remember they have nerves surrounding them
  • Hip Flexor flexibility.  The hip flexors are located on the front of your body. They are muscles that connect the top of your thigh to your pelvis. When they are tight they cause a shortened front side or excessive anterior pelvic tilt, which can compress the low back.
  • Extensor Muscles Strength (Erector Spinae). These muscles help stabilize and keep the Spine erect. They are wait allow you to sit up straight. Slouching discourages the proper strength and alignment. Many people slouch because of lack of  strength in their extensor muscles.

The first step in changing something is awareness and education.  Those who ignore low back pain, or “muscle” throughout, will have more problems in the future.  To start, one should become aware of the strength and flexibility in their lower back.  Do you have a strong and flexible low back?  Does your low back regularly hurt?  Check out some exercises you can do to strengthen and stretch your low back.  There is no better time to start then now.  Especially if you are inactive or sedentary, it’s time to start taking care of your back…your health.

Remember one thing.  It is the small everyday steps you take to create the change you wish to see.  So please do not overwhelm yourself or take on more than both you and your body are willing to endure. My suggestion is one or two exercises you feel comfortable in performing once a day for 10 minutes. Just 10 minutes of your day.  Aim for everyday.  Hopefully you will get five days of the week in.  If you miss a day, no stress, as there is always tomorrow.  Stress is a whole other discussion, but a negative aspect in your life that takes away from your overall well being.