Most people (four out of five to be exact!) will experience debilitating back pain at least once in their lives, but there are ways to lower our risk of injury. Local expert Carrie Jose, of CJ Physical Therapy & Pilates, shares three tips for keeping our backs as strong as possible…

Stand Up & Take a Load Off!

When we sit for too long, the burden of our weight is placed abnormally on our spine and can cause damage over time. Before long, these small loads can add up to real pain. Our bodies are designed to stand, sit, crawl, run, kneel, bend and move through the world in many different ways – not to sit in one position for prolonged periods, day after day.

The solution?

Limit your sitting to half-hour periods, with a few minutes of standing in between. Aside from participating in a regular strengthening exercise like Pilates, this is the easiest way for the average person to prevent back injury (and heal your back faster if you already have an injury)!

Watch for Curves

We all have natural curves in our spine that help us handle stress and weight; whether sitting or standing, it’s important to maintain these curves. While a strong core and back muscles are important for back health, they won’t protect your back if you sit for long periods of time.

The solution?

Fortunately, the solution is as simple as rolling up a towel and placing it between your chair or car seat and the small of your back (just above the belt line). Using a purpose-designed lumbar roll is my favorite choice, and what I personally use for low-back support. You can use a lumbar roll in your office chair, car, and on the plane if you’re flying!

Extend instead of Bend

The human spine (and entire body) craves balance—both extension and flexion. Many of us spend the majority of our time in flexion, bending over to put shoes and socks on, brushing our teeth, driving, sitting at work and then driving home. At home we bend forward to cook, sit some more as we eat and then curl up on our couch or an easy chair. As long as we’re not gymnasts or circus performers, it’s safe to say we could all use a little more extension in our day.

The solution?

A really good exercise is to stand and place your hands on your lower back for support and then arch back as far as you can go. Repeat this 10 times, at least once per day. If you’ve never arched you back like this before, it may feel stiff or even hurt a little at first, but with a gradual increase in frequency, it will feel less stiff and more natural over the course of a few days. If it doesn’t, or it becomes troublesome for you, stop and consult with a qualified physical therapist who specializes in back pain.

If you would like to learn more tips on back pain, please click here, or sign up for Carrie’s complimentary workshop next Wednesday! If you would to learn more about Pilates classes offered by CJ Physical Therapy & Wellness, we invite you to learn more here.

Thank you, Carrie!