Why is it important to look after your lower back?

Back pain is very common, and 80% of us will experience it at some time during our lifetimes.[1]Most lower back pain is acute, or short-term, lasting a few days to a few Back pain is very common and 80% of us will experience it at some time during our lifetimes.[1]Most lower back pain is acute, or short-term, lasting a few days to a few weeks. However, the increase in modern sedentary occupations and lifestyles has led to a rise in chronic, longer lasting conditions.

Factors that can contribute to back pain include:

  1. Bad work practices and lifting techniques
  2. Poor posture
  3. Being overweight
  4. Lack of exercise
  5. Pregnancy
  6. Stress
  7. Smoking[2]

When should I start to worry about my lower back?

If your lower back pain is starting to affect your movement and enjoyment of your normal activities, then it’s time to seek help. While lower back pain is rarely dangerous, it can be very uncomfortable, and you should seek assistance from a doctor to see if arthritis, ruptured disc or other spinal issues are the underlying cause of your back pain.

 From Ashes

Prevention

There are many treatments for lower back pain including medication, acupuncture or chiropractic. But often, the best cure for lower back pain is prevention.

Research shows that Pilates exercises that specifically target the core are effective in the prevention and management of lower back pain[3]

One of the main causes of lower back pain is the weakness in the core stabilising muscles. With a custom  Pilates exercise regime you will learn how to ‘switch on’ your core, become more mindful of your posture and strengthen the muscles that support your lower back.

Consequences of untreated lower back issues

Without treatment or prevention the destabilisation of the spine, which causes lower back pain can trigger pain in other parts of your body and in some cases lead to chronic pain.[4] People dealing with long-term, chronic pain can have trouble concentrating, are unable to perform daily tasks and often experience emotional side effects such as depression and sleep issues.

Pilates exercises to strengthen and stabilise your lower back muscles

  • The Pelvic Tilt – uses the abdominal muscles to support and lengthen the lower back
  • Chest Lift – strengthens core abdominal muscles
  • Swan Prep – strengthens the back extensors – the muscles that keep us upright
  • Child Pose – gently stretches the lower back
  • Kneeling Arm & Leg Reach – promotes core stability
  • Cat/Cow – encourages spine flexibility
flat abs-chest lift-floor pilates-private-class

Want to take action?

We have a new gentle workout class beginning in February 2017! This class is an introduction to Pilates Principles with its key objectives being to build core strength, address existing injuries and prevent strain, as well as improve breathing and movement integration. Check out this class and other classes for 201

  • [1] http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/backpain/detail_backpain.htm
  • [2] http://www.health.vic.gov.au/edfactsheets/downloads/lower-back-pain.pdf
  • [3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2684152/
  • [4] http://www.emedicinehealth.com/low_back_pain-health/page5_em.htm

Five examples of bad posture: How they can affect your overall health?

You may not know it, but bad posture can affect more than just your appearance while sitting down or standing up.  The spine can dictate so much of your mental and physical well-being, and if it’s out of alignment enough, it can lead to much bigger problems than just discomfort or laziness.  That added stress is a chain reaction, going from your joints, to the ligaments and tendons, and the muscles and nerves all along that region that is causing your problems. 

Top five bad posture habits

bad-posture-overall-health
  1. HUNCHBACK with the shoulders pointed forward.
  2. Curved-in lower back, also known as LORDOSIS.
  3. I lean on one side of the back due to carrying UNBALANCED BACK.
  4. Raising or lowering the head too much, often caused by LOOKING DOWN at phones and screens!
  5. TILTING THE HEAD to the side for long periods, holding the phone between head and neck. 

So, these forms of bad posture all seem very familiar, you probably know a person for each one of these, or even multiple forms.  The exception to this is usually if that person is an athlete or someone who is a gym-a-holic.  The reason being is that any form of bad posture will inhibit your range of strength and motion.  Bad posture just places unnecessary stress on the body, especially joints that are already vulnerable to wear and tear.  Things could get even more serious, where you start developing arthritis symptoms well before you reach your later years where it is common.

Examples of proper posture

When you’re sitting down, there are a few bad habits that can cause your posture to degrade and get all out of whack.  It is important that both of your feet are flat on the floor, pointed straight down. Your back should be as straight as possible.  The pelvis should also be pointed forward, this insures your hips are within alignment.  If you’re at a computer desk, your monitor should be within eye-level and your wrists and elbows should be parallel.

Exercises to help posture

Correcting bad posture can be difficult to achieve just from sitting a different way or throwing out old habits.  You should really target those muscles that have been neglected and strengthen them to make the transition to proper posture smoother.  The two best exercises that can restore your flexibility and strength are Yoga and Pilates.  These low-impact exercises are perfect for re-aligning the spine in a safe and effective way.

Yoga poses are superb for targeting lower-back pain and neck-related posture issues, while Pilates is the ultimate exercise for strengthening your lower-back, hips, and upper-body.  Weak core muscles contribute to the majority of bad posture ailments.  Pilates targets all muscles and gives much better support to the joints and, most importantly, the spine.

Good posture is not only good for physical health but also your emotional health.  Good posture makes you look good and feel good about yourself.  Some say that good posture will even improve your chemical balance, as the spine is allowed to transmit and receive signals to the brain much more accurately.

Check your posture right now - I bet your body isn't aligned in the best possible way?

Let us know which of the above bad postures you can relate to most.