Did you know that every day activities involving bending forward and twisting may cause back pain? Bending forward (flexion) and twisting (rotation) are shear and compressive forces on the disc that lead to torn, herniated discs causing low back and leg pain. These movements done repetitively cause wear and tear on the discs, which lead towards tears and herniations. Once the disc tears, its inner jelly-like substance called the nucleus pulposus, leaks through those tears, causing chemical inflammation of the spinal nerves leading to back and leg pain (Sciatica) In order to have proper body mechanics one must avoid bending and twisting as a whole, and instead, utilize their legs to bend at the knees to squat down versus bending at the waist. This will build muscle strength in the legs, allowing lifting to be easier, and greatly drop your chances of injuring your back.
Below are good rules of thumb to keep your spine healthy and pain-free:
- Avoid repetitive flexion and rotation in the lumbar spine (low back).
- In general, it is advised not to lift an object on your own that weighs more than 20% of your body weight. When you pick up an item, always keep your back as straight as possible and bend with your knees, not your waist. As you lift an object, do not twist or pivot your waist at any time. As you lift an item, never hold it any lower than your knees and no higher than your underarms. As you hold the object, keep it as close to your body as you can. Holding the object farther away from the body will cause more strain on the back.
Recognizing these few pointers may help you avoid damaging your discs and allow you to avoid chronic low back pain, keeping your discs young and healthy.