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The bad news: It is estimated that 80% of us will have low back pain at some point in our lives, and that 20-30% of us are suffering with it at any given moment.
The good news: The majority of low back pain is preventable.
What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You
Here are 7 low back facts that can help you understand and/or prevent low back pain.
Your low back is not designed for much movement. – Your low back’s primary job is to provide stability. As such, it’s only designed to rotate 8-10 degrees. If you need to twist, you should do it from your thoracic spine, i.e. your mid and upper back.
Twisting weakens your low back. – The outer wall of the intervertebral disks is made up of several layers that criss cross each other. This makes it really strong. Twisting your low back unravels half of those layers and severely weakens the disk, putting it at higher risk for bulging or rupturing.
Don’t do back stretches during the first hour of the day. – Your intervertebral disks fill with fluid overnight until they are as full as they can get. (Think water balloon filled to capacity.) Some of that fluid gets absorbed back into the body after you get up in the morning. It takes about an hour to reduce to their normal fluid level. If you bend forward while they are in their “too full” state, you run the risk of not only creating a bulging disk, but also of rupturing one.
Ruptured disks hurt for good reason. – The gel-like content of your disks has a chemical makeup similar to that of venom from a poisonous snake. If your disk ruptures and the contents come into contact with any of the nerves in the area, the result will be excruciating pain.
Never bend forward from your waist. – Your waist (located in your low back) is not a joint. It contains a joint where 2 vertebrae come together and is only designed to flex forward about 60 degrees. (That’s less than the 90 degrees needed to bend you forward enough to make your back is parallel to the floor.) Your hips are the joint whose main job it is to bend you forward.
Your low back needs frequent breaks. – The small multifidi muscles that connect one vertebra to another need 7 hours to recover from just 20 minutes of continual bending forward.
Movement is vital. – Even though it doesn’t have much range of motion, it still needs to move to be healthy. Study after study shows that a sedentary lifestyle puts you at risk for low back pain. An activity as simple as walking provides your low back with enough motion to keep it healthy.
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