There are many causes for low back pain (LBP) and unfortunately, if you have had one episode, the chances are, you will have another. And to avoid a reoccurrence, you have to treat the cause. But more importantly, you have to be proactive and take preventive steps.
Here is a multi-prong, natural approach to having a healthy back so you will never have to experience LBP again.
How to Prevention Low Back Pain Naturally
The most important preventive measure for low back pain is to protect the lumbar spine and all the soft tissues surrounding it. More importantly, keep your muscles flexible and strong to prevent strains and sprains. Muscles can get injured with over use, wear & tear, trauma, and improper posture. But flexible muscles are stronger than stiff muscles and you will less likely get injured.
Here are 5 tips that will not only keep your muscles flexible but strong.
- Exercise - if you are weak or overweight, lose the weight and strengthen the core muscles - abdominal and low back muscles - so they can protect the lumbar spine. Try yoga to make your muscles more flexible. Stiff muscles will be more prone to injuries and harder to get stronger.
- Hydration - 60% of your body is made of water. If the muscles are dehydrated, they will not be flexible and will break or tear easily. For an average person, you should drink at least 8-10 8oz glasses of liquids per day. If you are an athlete or pregnant, you need more. But in general, you should be drinking at least about 70 oz or about 1.8 liters a day.
- Ergonomics - no matter what you do, proper ergonomics is the key to preventing injury. Proper lifting techniques are not just for the guy in "Brown Uniform" or the guy with the orange apron. A gardener, chef, writer, or an athlete can get LBP if you don't have proper posture. You need to learn how to bend, lift, turn, sit, and run properly to avoid injury.
- Reduce Stress - stress causes your body to produce cortisol. In small amounts, cortisol is ok. But when your body is constantly flooded with cortisol, it causes the muscles to get tight and restricts joint movements, increasing chances for injury.
What to Eat to Prevent Low Back Pain
- Nutrients you need and what foods contain them
- Potassium - green leafy vegetables, avocados, bananas, and coconut water for reducing inflammation
- Omega-3 - wild caught salmon, mackerel, hemp, and flax also for anti-inflammation
- Lean protein - grass-fed beef, pastured poultry and pastured eggs for building muscles and bone health
- Magnesium - dark leafy greens, nuts, seeds, fish, lentils, avocados, bananas, dried fruits, dairy, and dark chocolate for healthy muscle and nerve function
- Supplements - people who are prone to LBP can supplement the following daily for joint support since our diet does not contain adequate amounts
- Magnesium (400 mg) - for healthy muscle and nerve function
- Omega - 3 (2000 mg) - for reducing inflammation
- Proteolytic Enzyme - like Bromelain and Papain (500mg X 3 times daily) - used usually right after the injury to reduce swelling.
- Turmeric ( 1000mg) - spice that contains Cucurmin and it acts as a powerful anti-inflammatory agent.
- MSM (2000 - 8000mg) - Methylsulfonylmethane is a naturally occurring substance that contains sulfur in our bones, especially in our spine, and it supports joint and bone health.
- Glucosamine Sulfate (1000mg) - rebuilds cells that make up tendons, ligaments and cartilage in the joints, providing more 'cushion' for the joints. Usually works better when taken with MSM.
- Vitamin C (2000mg) - vitamin C contributes to many healthy functions in the body but one of them is rebuilding cartilage, ligaments, and tendon cells. It repairs cells and damaged soft tissues.
NOTE: It's important to use supplements that are high in quality. I only use companies that I've researched and trust and that they provide the purest ingredients without contamination. The links above are what I'd recommend but if you have a reputable supplier or company you trust, you can buy from your source. But just in case, I have created a special Bone and Joints Health category in the Metagenics Store for your easy ordering. I use and recommend some of these supplements to my own family so you know you are getting the best quality products. 20% off all first-time orders, 10% off all Recurring Orders & Free Ground Shipping.
Foods to Avoid
- Inflammatory Foods - Sugar, alcohol and trans fats
- Caffeine - causes dehydration so especially if you are not drinking enough liquids, caffeine can cause even more damage to your muscles and soft tissues. Limit to one to two cups of coffee or tea per day.
- High Carbohydrates - staying fit and healthy is good for many reasons but especially if you are prone to LBP. Putting extra pounds around the belly - your core area - can put a lot of stress in the lumbar spine. Losing weight will give you a new lease on your spine so stay away from high carb foods to avoid gaining weight.
- Stretch - as mentioned above, flexible muscles are less prone to injury. Always stretch before exercise or performing strenuous physical activity. After a short warm up exercise, stretch your muscles that you will be using in the activity involved. As mentioned above, yoga is a great way to maintain or increase flexibility and strength in your muscles. Start slow and build up to more challenging levels.
- Posture - Don’t slouch when standing or sitting. When standing, keep your weight balanced on both feet. Don't lean in one foot or the other. If you are planning to stand for a long time, like when doing dishes, prop one foot under the sink so your back's lordosis (curvature) is reduced and the weight is not on your low back.
- Lumbar Support - sit in a chair with good lumbar support and proper position. Keep your shoulders back. Switch sitting positions often and walk around the office or gently stretch muscles every 30 minutes. If you must sit for a long period of time, rest your feet on a low stool or a stack of books.
- Arch Supports - Wear comfortable, low-heeled shoes with good arch supports. A chiropractor or a podiatrist can fit you for custom orthotics for your feet If you want to try out over the counter orthotics, try a pair with firm medial arch support and see how your low back feels. If it feels good, then, you need to get custom fitted. Over the counter orthotics provide general support but not specific to your feet and all the arches.
- Sleep Better - your cells repair when you sleep. Don't drink caffeinated drinks 8 hours before bed so you can sleep well to repair damaged cells. Sleep on your side with a small pillow between the knees to reduce any curve in your spine. Always sleep on a firm but supportive mattress (you should change your mattress every 10 years). If you sleep on your back, place a small pillow under bent knees. Make sure your neck is properly supported with a firm pillow too.
- Lift Correctly - Bend your knees when picking or lifting something off of the floor and especially if the object is heavy. Lift with your legs and pull in your stomach muscles. Keep the object close to your body so center of gravity is close to you. Do not twist when lifting. Go straight up and move your whole body if you need to place the object on the side.
With starting any of the above new regimen, check with your doctor first. When you experience pain or have any questions, stop and call your doctor.
Finally, one sure way to prevent future low back pain is to keep it aligned with regular Chiropractic care. Properly aligned and moving joints will keep your spine in a healthy state!
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