• Spring Cleaning: Throw Out the Trash, not Your Back

      There’s nothing worse than showing up stiff and sore to the office or passing on the weekend golf game on account of your back—nothing worse, that is, than knowing your injury was preventable.

      The good news is that protecting your back doesn’t require an extensive knowledge of yoga or Pilates. Prevention takes strong core muscles and simple back stretches that incorporate more than just bending and twisting.

      The abs, pelvis, and leg muscles depend on the back for support; but our backs depend on these muscles in just the same way. Exercising your core is a great way to strengthen this support network to prevent future back injuries. If you’ve been noticing any extra strains or soreness in your back, stretch frequently, but think also about aligning your workout to focus a bit more on your core.

      A strong core, however, can’t always prevent an injury due to spring-cleaning. How often do we stretch before cleaning the garage (hint: never is not enough)? Regular stretching can contribute to prevention, but backstretches are not limited to the obvious bending and twisting. Our hamstrings play an important role in supporting the back; therefore, think of it as a back muscle in its own right. An even better idea? Try to incorporate your hamstrings into your normal back stretch routine.

      The interconnected network of our back and leg muscles also shows itself in a range of back injuries. 90-95% of all “thrown” backs are stresses and strains that will heal with rest and stretches. Occasionally, individuals with back injuries will feel numbness or a sharp pain radiating down their leg. Often, this is a sign of a pinched nerve that may require more attention.  As with any injury—and especially with injuries to the back—be sure to see a physician or physical therapist if symptoms persist.

      Back injuries can seem to come out of nowhere, but by treating your back like any other muscle and making sure it gets the stretches and exercises it needs you won’t be the one hobbling around the coffee machine on a Monday morning.