Throw Out Your Back

What It Means to ‘Throw Out Your Back’

One moment, you’re casually bending over in your kitchen to pick up a dropped olive or you’re on the couch and reach for the remote when BAM! you’re hit with a terrible pain in your back that would drop you to your knees if you could flex that much.

You are now the most recent contestant in the ‘How I Threw My Back Out’ game show that no one wants to be a part of.

But what does the ominous phrase “throwing out your back” actually mean and what can you do about it?

Back Pain 101

Throwing out your back is a common expression for a sharp and sudden pain in your back that comes from an activity or movement.  The activity isn’t necessarily strenuous; it can result from something as simple as a strong sneeze but unfortunately, the result is usually agonizing.

While it might feel like your back is imploding in on itself in a fiery blaze, a definite diagnosis of back pain can sometimes remain a mystery.  In other instances, the root of the pain can be pinpointed to muscle spasms or spinal disc problems by your physician.

Preventing a Thrown Back

It’s almost impossible to completely prevent unexpected back pain that can strike from any minute movement.  Thankfully, there are lifestyle choices that can help reduce your overall chance of chronic back problems.

  • Stand up straight.  It sounds too simple, but poor posture is a huge contributor to back problems.
  • Lift objects properly.  Use your knees to lift heavy items while keeping your back straight.
  • Exercise Regularly.  Staying in shape strengthens your muscles, making them less prone to strains and future issues.
  • Don’t wear high heels.  Although they make your legs look amazing, heels create body misalignment, especially along your spinal cord.
  • Stay at a healthy weight.  Excess body fat puts strain on your entire body, but your back is particularly susceptible and takes the brunt of weight.

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4 Simple Truths about Back Pain

Good news about back pain is that most moderate to mild back pain can be lessened and / or eliminated with a better understanding of the possible causes and solutions. Diagnosing back pain is difficult because there are so many body parts that are part of or interact with the spine. Some of these parts are the vertebrae, discs between the vertebrae, ligaments connecting vertebrae, discs and muscles, spinal cord, nerves, muscles, and internal organs in the abdomen.

Your Office Chair may be the source of your back pain. Sitting for long periods of time is unhealthy for the back and lessens the blood flow to discs that provide cushioning between vertebrae. Studies have shown that sitting can put as much as 30 percent more pressure on your spinal column than standing or walking. So what is the solution? Try to stand up and walk around as often as possible. Some people have both stand-up desks and normal desks so they can split their time between the two. And try to keep a good posture when sitting, which is a chair seat that tilts back slightly and keeping your feet flat on the floor.

Your Shoes may be another source of your back pain. Shoes with high heels can alter the distribution of your body weight, resulting in stress on the spinal column. The effects can also be felt in the feet and knees. And any shoe without a back, such as flipflops or flats, can produce problems because the heel of the foot can slide around when walking. This creates instability for the spinal column and could result in back pain also. So what is the solution? Wear shoes that are stable – with a firm back and heels under three inches in height.

Extra Body Weight, particularly about the belly, can cause strain on your lower back. This is true for pregnant women also. Your extra body weight forces a forward tilt in the pelvis, which is affecting the alignment and balance of the spinal column. So what is the most common solution? Exercise your abdominal muscles. Stronger abdominal muscles will reduce the load on the lumbar discs of your spine. These exercises are simple and can be done daily. Pregnant women should discuss this with their doctor.

Stress is a significant cause of back pain. Back Muscles, like any muscle in the body, are designed to contract and relax. But if you are physically and/or mentally stressed the back muscles may contract and not relax. If another related part of the back has been injured, nature “instructs” the lower back muscles to contract to lessen movement and protect the injured area. Basically, this is nature’s splint for the lower back. The solution may be low impact aerobic exercise or a simple schedule of walking frequently. Talk to your doctor about your stress and how to deal with it and your back pain.

There are many other causes and potential solutions for back pain. The situations mentioned above are just a few possibilities but they are common. Always contact your doctor if your back pain is severe or lasts more than a couple of weeks.