Column: Shobha Kaul

Lower Back Pain Basics

Low back pain prevalent in multipara females few years back, is a common sight in all age groups these days that too almost equal in both sexes. About 80% of the population will develop back pain some time or the other in their lifetime. And 80-90% of cases are due to improper posture, weak musculature, faulty body basics leading to physical deconditioning or a combination of all. Hence low back pain (LBP) can be avoided by most people by adhering to the guidelines listed below. 
About 80% of people will develop back pain in their lifetime. And 80-90% of cases are due to faulty body basics

Risk factors for LBP:
It is very important to understand the risk factors and exclude them if present. Incidence of LBP increases with age, overweight and poor physical fitness.

Posture: Postural problems like low or high curvature of backbone, disc displacement etc. could be structural. Hence medical examination is must.

Occupational: Hazards like prolonged sitting, stooping, bending, and twisting and poor work surfaces.

Environmental: Cigarette smoking is associated with LBP.

Psychological: Depression and anxiety.

Recreational: High-impact activities without supervision like running, racquet games, ball games and high impact aerobics.

Misc: Multiple pregnancies.

Preventing LBP and exercise guidelines:

  1. Use backrests (lumber support) while sitting.
  2. Change your position regularly.
  3. Avoid activities that caused previous LBP attacks.
  4. Reduce stress and try to reduce smoking too.
  5. Adjust work stations to a comfortable height.
  6. Wear padded shoes during exercises and avoid jogging on hard surfaces.
  7. Warm-up and cool-down before and after exercising.
  8. Avoid over-extending your spine without proper support.
  9. Always have the pelvis in a neutral position and torso erect during exercise movements.
  10. While leaning forward, lifting or lowering an object, always bend at knees.
  11. Exercise to improve strength and flexibility of muscles.
  12. If there is an incident of LBP after exercise, an icepack is applied on the affected area in a sitting or lying down position. Avoid exercising for a few days.

Exercises for LBP
Strengthening exercises for the lower back should be performed on a regular basis and maintaining a healthy eating culture and lifestyle may help prevent it. Some exercise sets are given below:
Position: Lie on back, face up with knees bent.
Movement: Slowly, pull one knee to chest, and hold for five counts, repeat with other.
Position: Lie on back, knees bent and legs together.
Movement: Slowly, rotate knees from side to side while keeping them together. Flatten your back against the floor by contracting your stomach muscles and rotating hips backwards. Slowly, Arch your back up, hold for five counts and relax. Slowly, bring one knee to chest and extend the leg straight. Repeat with other.
Position: Lie on stomach, with legs and arms straight out.
Movement: Lift one arm, hold and relax. Do with other. Lift one leg, hold and relax. Do with other. Lift one arm and opposite leg, hold and relax. Do with other.
Position: Stand against the wall.
Movement: Squat so that your lower back is pressed against the wall. Move your feet out bending your knees to a half squat and hold. Gradually straighten legs out and repeat. Slowly side stretch against the wall.

—The author is managing director of Personal Point and an acclaimed fitness expert

February 2007

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