By Mickey Mehta
More than half of the urban population seems to suffer from symptoms of back pain – some having upper, some middle and most other lower back pain. It is one of the most common reasons for work related absenteeism and second most common reason to go see a doctor. Fortunately, most back aches occur due to mechanical reasons and are not always caused by inflammation, arthritis, infections, fracture, cancer, etc. And if you have back pain, you are not the only one suffering from this problem. In fact, 8 out of 10 people complain of back problems.
Back injuries/pain are one of the commonest work related musculoskeletal disorders and these occur in persons who work on shop floors as well as office bound employees, who are constantly sitting with scant regard to posture, long working hours with no exercise, lifting and carrying heavy bags, etc. All these factors can eventually lead to muscle spasms, loss of flexibility and severe back aches. The largest and strongest muscle of the upper body is on the back. A strong back supports posture and gait and give a look of confidence and poise. Any type of performance and almost all activities activate the muscles of the back. Therefore, maintaining a healthy spine is of paramount importance.
The major causes of back injuries are:
• Manual tasks such as lifting, pushing and pulling are a major cause.
• Frequent twisting postures.
• Slipping, tripping and falling.
• Constantly sitting or standing for long periods of time.
• Sustained fixed postures (even the most comfortable).
Mindful steps to control hazards at work/home:
1. If you have to bend your back while working, you should take breaks for short periods of time to straighten your back and stretch.
2. If you are continuously sitting, stand and walk occasionally.
3. If you have to stand for long periods and occasionally sit on a high stool or a sit down with back erect.
4. Avoid abrupt twisting and turning. Always turn with your whole body. Do not twist your trunk.
5. Use assistance to move heavy or awkward loads.
Precautions to be taken before beginning your exercises:
1. A complete physical check-up before you begin a new exercise program is recommended especially if you are over 35 years and overweight or have been sedentary for some time.
2. Ensure that your exercises are done with supervision.
3. Exercise slowly and with caution to prevent injuries and sprains. Avoid over-exercising and use a mat or a carpet to protect the back, while laying down on the floor.
4. Core and back strengthening exercises or yogasanas must be an integral part of your exercise routine.
Listed below are a few exercises to be done regularly under guidance: Except the first two exercises, while performing the others, readers are requested to follow the instructions of yoga experts.
Sukhasana or easy pose: One of the basic meditative poses, it is usually performed after doing Shavasana or the Corpse Pose. The Easy Pose straightens the spine, slows down metabolism, promotes inner tranquility and keeps your mind still.
Shoulder and arm rotations and stretches relieve stress and tension on your shoulders and your entire upper back. Doing them daily for several weeks brings several changes. Look out for them.
Surya Namaskar or Sun Salutation: The Sun Salutation or Surya Namaskar is a Yoga asana that increases the flexibility of the whole body while preparing for the other Yoga Asanas.
Ardhamatsyendrasana or Half Spinal Twist: Proper practice of the Half Spinal Twist lengthens and strengthens the spine. It also exercises your liver, kidneys and adrenal glands. Twists can effectively stretch the spine and release tightness, improve spinal alignment and mobility.
Bhujangasana (cobra pose) is a powerful and effective back bending asana that helps to relieve stiffness in the lower spine region and reduces backache when done regularly.
Dhanurasana (bow pose) is another back strengthening yogasana, It also enhances flexibility of the spine and strengthens the core muscles.
Ustrasana (Camel pose): It protects your lower back from compression and improves every aspect of the posture.
Shavasana or Relaxation (Corpse) Poseis a restorative pose that relaxes the mind and body to the fullest.
Lastly and most importantly, incorporate a diet of healthy foods like whole grains, millets, fruits, nuts, seeds, low fat milk, vegetables, sprouts/beans, etc to build a strong nutritious foundation for bone and muscle health and to maintain a healthy body weight.
Get your back on track, get centered and stay Mickeymized!
About Mickey Mehta: Mickey Mehta is a holistic health guru and leading expert with more than 25 years of experience, known world over.