physical activity is one of the key drivers to life-long health and general longevity but what then should those who suffer from debilitating back pain do to stay active? Maybe a better question to ask is how to avoid debilitating back pain in the first place?
Back pain is often a mystery. In many cases diagnosis does not come with a cause. It is undeterminable however we can safely identify a few obvious associations that generally speaking will help people avoid debilitating back pain as age sets in. One of the most widely known associations is a lack of physical activity which results in extra pounds on the midriff and small, inadequate muscles around the torso and back. It has been widely recommended that people suffering from minor back pain or no back pain are encouraged to add physical activity to their daily to-do list to support the muscles which support the back. This practice however is not the only muscular related action that must take place.
A much less widely known fact is that muscle mass and fitness is not the only factor in back support. Flexibility of the back muscles is also a fey factor in eliminating or avoiding the pain that many people suffer from. When you stretch your muscles regularly your spine will be more likely to stay in alignment.
Imagine two elastic bands pulling in opposite directions on an object centered directly between the bands. Now imagine that one of the elastic bands is stretched out and has lost some of it’s tension, the object in the middle will travel further from the stretched band in the direction of the band which has more tension. The object will no longer be directly centered between the two bands. This is what can happen to your back muscles if you do not stretch adequately. One muscle can pull firmly on the spine while the opposing muscle is only lightly pulling on the spine. This puts pressure on the spine and can bring it out of alignment and/or cause back pain. Quality stretching routines will minimize the differential in pressure and alleviate back pain.
In fact, there was a study back in 2003 conducted on 901 Japanese military recruits which found that those who stretched every day experienced fewer back problems than those who did not. The stretching of the back not only supports healthy spine alignment but it also can help guard against damage and accident that is yet to be inflicted. If you are experiencing back pain or wish to guard against it you should consult your doctor about starting an exercise routine to support core strength but you should also start a routine of stretching of your muscles just as you would any other muscle group in your body. Quality back stretches include hamstring stretches, knee to chest stretches, hip flexor stretches, press ups, and priformis stretches. You can also contact professionals in your area for guidance on how to stretch properly.
Of course all this goes back to health and longevity. If you are mobile you are far more likely to live a longer if than if you are immobile. I don’t have stats to back this up today but I think this is basically understood. Keep yourself flexible, strong, and mobile so that you can stay active through day-to-day living. It’s tough to get in regular exercise with a bad back; support it and it will support you in your elder years.
Effects of Static Stretching Exercise in JSDF Recruits
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