In the hustle and bustle of our active lives, it's easy to overlook the intricate needs of our lower backs. As an evidence-informed chiropractor dedicated to enhancing the well-being of active adults, I understand the unique challenges you face. Your lower back is a powerhouse, supporting every twist, turn, and stride in your active lifestyle. So, let's dive into a comprehensive guide for maintaining optimal low back health.  

Move Smartly, Move Often  

Staying mobile is of the utmost importance in keeping low back pain at bay. We call this “prehab” in that it is like proactive rehab, keeping your spine mobile so that it is capable and ready to take on the movements that your day demands. This doesn’t have to be a difficult or tedious task. A simple program of cat-camels, child's pose, and thread the needle twice per day for 30 seconds each time is a great place to begin incorporating spinal mobility drills into your daily life. Doing so will take up no more than 5 minutes of your day, and I promise you will feel good afterwards. See below on how to perform these movements:

Walking is also a great mobility drill for the spine. 5,000 steps a day should be your minimum, while 10,000 steps are ideal.   If you do get injured, the old adage of resting in order to recover is simply unsupported by the literature. We actually see the opposite in the research, in that prolonged rest following a back injury actually makes the pain WORSE! You need to send messages to your brain that your back is adaptable and strong. This doesn’t mean go deadlift 200 lbs or run a half-marathon after a back injury; it simply means that you need to stay mobile and progress wisely. A leisurely walk is a great place to start, then you can progress to more vigorous walking, and continue on to lifting light weights, and so forth. Don’t push too hard. Listen to your body and know that moving within your tolerance is the best thing you can do.  

Improve Your Core Strength  

When people think “core”, they tend to think 6-pack. This is just one part of your core. The truth is that your core is actually a package of 4 muscles that surround your spine and work together to enhance the stability of your spine. A strong core is the foundation of spinal stability. When you have a stronger core, it helps to take some of the load off the spine and give it some help. Think of the core as a sort of “right hand man” with the spine. Include exercises that target the core muscles, such as planks, bridges, and stability ball exercises. Strengthening the core not only supports the spine but also improves overall functional fitness. See this YouTube video on the McGill Big 3 that is a great core strengthening routine to utilize:

Doing 3 sets of each exercise for 8-10 seconds each can help you achieve profound results, and will help to further stabilize your spine. 

Mind Your Posture  

Whether you're at your desk or hitting the gym, maintaining good posture is non-negotiable. Avoid slouching, and engage your core muscles to support your spine. Consider ergonomic adjustments in your workspace to promote a spine-friendly environment. We have a workstation ergonomic checklist that you can get for free. Reach out to us (bergnerchiropractic@gmail.com) and we’ll email it to you!  

Hydrate and Nourish  

Proper hydration is essential for maintaining the elasticity of spinal discs, as well as detoxifying metabolic wastes after a tough workout. Ensure you're drinking enough water throughout the day. Half your body weight in ounces in the minimal intake you should shoot for. Additionally, adopt a balanced diet rich in nutrients to support bone health. Opting for whole foods as the primary meal source in your life is a great place to start. Post-workout meals should be rich in complex carbohydrates and protein to replenish your tired muscles. Additionally, ensure that you are getting 1g of protein per lb of bodyweight in your diet. 

Invest in Quality Sleep  

Adequate, restful sleep is crucial for overall health, including spinal health. Establish a consistent sleep routine to promote quality rest and recovery. Avoid screens for an hour prior to bedtime, read a book or journal to calm your nervous system down, and make sure the room is dark and cool.

You can also do simple things to improve spinal posture when you sleep such as: sleep with pillows under your knees (if on your back) or between your knees (if on your side), ensure your neck pillow is not too soft and not too thick (a particularly firm neck pillow can cause major stress to your neck), and do your best to sleep on your back or side (although sleeping in general is more important, so if you can't sleep these ways, stick to your stomach and do 15 reps of cat-cows immediately upon waking). 

If You Learn Nothing Else from this Blog, AVOID THESE TWO THINGS  

Research shows that early morning and following prolonged sitting are two particular times where back injuries are more likely to occur. Avoidance of high-risk activities early in the morning (before you’ve had time to warm up) or after sitting or stooping in full flexion is crucial to injury and reinjury prevention. Make sure that if you’re doing anything high-intensity around these times that you do a proper warmup. See our Instagram or Facebook pages for videos on effective back mobility warmups.

Visit a Spine Expert  

Navigating the waters of spinal health, particularly after an injury, can be overwhelming. Low back pain is the #1 disability in the world, requiring more surgery and prescription medication than any other musculoskeletal disorder. Scheduling regular visits with an evidence-informed chiropractor to assess and maintain your spinal health can be a fantastic investment in your life. Chiropractic care can help identify and address any lack of mobility, stability, or muscle imbalances in the spine, promoting optimal function and reducing the risk of injuries. At Bergner Chiropractic, we also focus intently on breathing skills, as the intra-abdominal pressure created with proper breathing is essential for spinal health. In the vast majority of cases when compared with commonly used pharmaceutical options, conservative treatments for back pain have been shown to be of greater benefit, lower risk, and lower cost time and time again.  

Conclusion  

As an active adult, prioritizing spinal health is a key component of your overall well-being. By incorporating these tips into your lifestyle, you can support a strong and resilient spine, allowing you to continue enjoying the activities you love. Remember, a proactive approach to spinal health today can contribute to a healthier and more active future tomorrow.

Luke Bergner

Contact Me