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Posted on 02-01-2016

Hello, one and all, Matt here!! And welcome to a new article from Spector Chiropractic, your Towson/Baltimore Chiropractor. Todays subject will focus on lower back pain and a couple of tips and tricks for how to alleviate it. So, without further ado, let's jump right in, shall we?

So, more often than not, lower back pain is caused by a herniated disc in the spine, which can cause serious pain that cripples your ability to function in every day life. I suffer from the early stages of lower back pain, myself, and have invested a considerable amount of time in figuring out treatments for it, so that I can go about my daily routine and sleep well at night. I've found there are a few causes of my lower back pain, some which I can control, and one which I cannot. 

High or low foot arches can cause problems in the base of your spine, believe it or not. It has to do with the way your skeleton aligns: if the foundation is off, i.e. your feet, then it can cause problems throughout your body. Additionally, sitting for too long in a slouched over position, paired with a poor diet and weight gain all contribute to lower back pain. If you are like me, and have low foot arches, then your spine already has regular compression at a specific point. And so if, like me, your eating habits are less than stellar and you do most of your work on a computer, it brews the perfect storm for lower back pain. It is a very common affliction, one that affects a large portion of the American population, potentially as much as 40 to 50 percent!!

So what to do about back pain? Especially lower back pain? Well, there are a few easy steps you can take to prevent and/or treat lower back pain. The first is exercise, specifically exercise that works the affected back muscles. 

I'm talking about this machine right here. You can find it at most gyms, and any local Planet Fitness, which has a $10/month membership fee (crazy cheap as far as gyms go). Plug in your headphones, turn on a song you really like, set the weight to a comfortable level, and slowly work your lower back for the duration of the song. You will feel a wincing pain at first, but as you work those muscles more, the feeling will subside. One of the issues with lower back pain is caused from your back muscles weakening from a sedentary lifestyle, which intensifies issues with the lower back as those muscles lose the ability to keep your spine aligned. This exercise strengthens those muscles to help reduce the affect of lower back pain. I do this regularly, and it works. Trust me. The next step is a heating pad at night. 

A heating pad at night, preferably one that has a residual heating function after the main heatsource turns off (so as not to burn you or set your bed on fire), will seriously help your back muscles relax. Tight muscles are often the causes of pain throughout the body, and so loosening them up is often all you need to do to fix that. Ever wonder why you feel amazing after a soak in the hot tub? The hot water relaxes every muscle in your body. But we all cannot have personal hot tubs, so a heating pad at night will do the trick just fine. Place it under your lower back, put some pillows under your knees to prop your legs up (that will flatten out your spine for more relief), and read a book as you drift off into a blissful night's sleep, knowing that you will not be tossing and turning all night. The next and final step is walking. 

Twenty to thirty minutes of walking every day, even at a leisurely pace, does the body an immense amount of good. We are not designed to be stationary, so even if you are in your elder years, you can still preserve your back by doing a little bit of walking every day. Our ancient ancestors were known to hunt animals by chasing them until they collapsed from exhaustion, literally running them to death. They did not need to be the fastest, and you do not need to be fast either. You have the potential for great endurance if you practice at it and condition your body to it. I do two miles of walking every day in armor similar to the men you see above you, specifically because it produces an amazing effect on my body and my overall health. And now for the final piece, diet. 

We all here the health enthusiasts screeching from their soapbox about the evils of fast food and snacky junk. Well, I love snacky junk, you love snacky junk, we all love snacky junk. Problem is, too much snacky junk is quite literally too much of a "good" thing. Weight gain can cause serious issues with lower back pain, as the amount of fat around your stomach puts pressure on your innards, your spine included. This should go hand in hand with regular daily walking. It's tough at first, but as you commit more to it, you'll find that you grow more of a taste for healthier foods. And you don't have to do it all at once. Gradually eat more healthy food over time, and phase it into your diet. It's much smoother and you have less chance of rebounding that way. But don't feel bad if you do, you can always try again :D

Brought to you by Spector Chiropractic, your Baltimore / Towson Chiropractor. 

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