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4 Keys to Managing Most Low Back Conditions
March 26, 2014
According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), $50 billion is spent per year by Americans on low back pain. Spinal conditions can range from sciatica (bulging or herniated disc that presses on the sciatic nerve), tospinal stenosis (wearing of the disc leading to a narrowing of the spinal boney canal), and spondylolisthesis (anterior or forward slip of the vertebra and not to be confused with a slipped disk). Additionally, many suffer from undiagnosed low back pain. Here are 4 keys to managing most low back conditions:
See a Doctor
If you have red flags such as numbness, tingling, radiating pain down the legs, loss of range of motion, or general lumbar pain, go see a doctor immediately. Getting a clear diagnosis is the first step to managing low back pain. Doctors diagnose and treat low back pain. Do not try to self-diagnose or train with low back pain. You can’t fix something without knowing what is causing the pain.
You Need Guidelines
After a diagnosis and treatment by a medical professional (i.e. doctor, physical therapy, or chiropractic care), you can begin a post rehab exercise training program for managing your low back condition. It is important to have a diagnosis and treatment before starting an exercise program. For instance, a post rehab exercise program for spondylolisthesis has very different guidelines than a lumbar disk herniation. Spondylolisthesis is an anterior (front) slippage of the vertebra and needs guidelines and precautions for back extension, while bulging or herniated disk generally protrude posteriorly and needs guidelines for back flexion.
See a Qualified Exercise Professional
It is important to see a fitness professional who is certified in post rehab. Many in the fitness industry have corrective exercise certifications but, those certifications do not teach and test pathology of conditions. How can you help to correct or prevent any musculoskeletal condition without understanding the anatomy and pathology of the condition? Joints are stable from the inside out. Simply looking at a client in a postural and/or movement assessment and providing “corrective exercise” may be harmful to the client.
Get in Plenty of Fluids and Water
Think of your disc as sponges. The discs in the lumbar spine are filled with water. Drinking plenty of water also helps to build up the synovial fluid in the joints of the lumbar spine. If you are hydrating enough, you can potentially increase your shock absorption in the lumbar spine and decrease episodic or chronic low back pain. The Food and Nutrition Board recommends 125 ounces (15-16 cups) of water per day for men and 91 ounces (11-12 cups) of water per day for women.