For many people, the shift from the cold months of winter to the alluring heat of summer often means getting back to physical activities before they’re fully in shape. So whether you’re an Ironman athlete or a Weekend Warrior with a weed whacker, injuring your back has the potential to sideline your season before it even starts.
Living an active life requires upkeep, and that means preventing back injuries through stretching and exercise. This also includes maintaining correct posture, which reduces the stress on your spine and contributes to healthy back muscles. Let’s start by going over some preventative measures that you can do at home or at the gym that will loosen your back up and add an extra layer of protection against a range of back injuries.
Preventing back injuries starts with stretching and warm-up. Begin by stretching the large muscles of the hamstrings that run through the back of each thigh and connect to the pelvis. Tightness in our hamstrings pulls on the pelvis, which increases the stresses on our lower back and increases the chance of pulled back muscles or herniated discs.
These types of injuries are commonly known as “throwing out your back.” But despite its evocative name, 90% of thrown out backs are just pulled muscles. As with most pulled muscles, recovery involves plenty of rest and taking anti-inflammatory medicine to keep the swelling down.
Exercising your core helps prevent the majority of back injuries by strengthening the muscles of your abdomen and those along the spine. Yoga and Pilates are two of the best exercise regimens for building the muscles that support your spine and help protect against trauma. If you don’t have the time for either of those classes, try incorporating some additional sit-ups or crunches into your workout routine, or ask a local trainer for some workouts that target your core muscles.
Sometimes injuries are a little less straightforward. Injuries that affect the nerves of the back are referred to as neurological. Symptoms of these injuries include shooting pain, numbness and/or tingling in the arms and legs. If you experience one or any of these symptoms, you should see a medical professional immediately.
We tend to overlook our back muscles when they’re feeling fine, but as anyone who’s experienced a pulled lumbar muscle or worse, back injuries can quickly ruin any chance of doing even the smallest activities. Don’t wait until you’re bent over in pain to start doing the stretches and exercise that prevent such back injuries. The good news is that 99% of all back injuries do not require surgery, and the professionals at Manhattan Orthopedic are here to address any of your concerns regarding your back, whether its surgical or not.