Health and well-being: exercises and behaviors useful to prevent back pain

This article is edited by Professor Diana Tomasi, Professor of Motor and Sport Sciences, for over 30 years, at the G. B. High School of Vicenza and Head of the middle distance sector of Atletica Vicentina.

Continuing our series of suggestions and advice aimed at improving our psychophysical well-being, we are now facing a topic that, who before and after, involves at least 80% of people throughout their lives. Back pain is in fact a multifactorial problem.

Obesity, smoking, stress, incorrect postures, … all this can contribute to the onset of the problem.

So we need to act on our daily behavior, for example by improving static and dynamic posture. Sitting with your back straight, placing the sacral part of the spine on the back of the chair, can prevent excessive loads on our vertebrae leading to compensatory postures. Even the way we get up or lift weights off the ground should always be done taking care to bend your knees and keep your back as straight as possible. Let’s think about how we do the little things we repeat every day, for example making the bed: let’s remember to bend the legs instead of flexing the back.

But above all it is a matter of introducing into our weekly habits small exercises that help on the one hand to stretch and on the other to tone up some muscular districts, in particular it is advisable to keep the abdominal muscles toned and to stretch the posterior muscles of the legs (hamstrings, ischia crurali, etc.). Recall that the ileus psoas (which is instead located in the front of the thigh) also plays a central role in the prevention of back pain.

Another aspect that can contribute to back pain is a certain rigidity of the spine (that is, the spine), especially in its back. In this case, exercises aimed at mobilizing the back may be appropriate, and some can be found in the third video indicated at the bottom.

A very useful motor habit for the prevention of spine problems is swimming, because it strengthens the body muscles by keeping the spine unloaded.

This is a season suitable for swimming outdoors, but in general a subscription to a swimming pool that leads us to swim once or twice a week is always a cure-all for our back. Swimming is an activity that takes place in a sort of absence of gravity, and if on the one hand it is a good (“unloaded” column) on the other it should be integrated with appropriate physical exercise, in which the body finds itself doing the you count with gravitational force.

Another important aspect: the “belly“. As mentioned in other previous posts, the so-called “belly”, very widespread especially in men after 40/50 years, is possible cause of a series of health problems. In the specific case it is a factor that favors back pain because, as it happens for pregnant women, it moves the center of gravity forward and this determines a certain suffering of the lumbar spine. It is the stretch that, together with the cervical one, is most often the site of back pain. Low back pain and neck pain are more common, but back pain (back pain of the spine) can also present as reflex pain caused perhaps by slightly contracted muscle bundles. Returning to the topic of obesity (or overweight), lowering the belly is a first goal that helps us prevent future back problems.

In this sense, nutrition and moderate but constant motor activity become important. In this regard, remember to plan jogging sessions (if running is not possible, at least long walks ..) in your weekly agenda. For the feeding point, avoid eating junk food, and when you can’t cook, remember that Bivo provides you with healthy and ready food in thirty seconds.

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Moving on to practical exercises, a first exercise that helps to stretch the spine is to put yourself in a supine position (lying on a carpet with your stomach up) with your legs bent and your feet resting. Slowly bend the right leg further, bringing the corresponding knee slowly to the chest. Maintain the position for about ten seconds and then extend, always slowly, and bring the right leg back to the starting position. Repeat the exercise with the other leg. Finally do the same thing with both legs, slowly pulling the knees towards the chest. You will feel that the lumbar spine lengthens, distancing the 5 lumbar vertebrae from each other and thereby giving breathing to the intervertebral discs.

Another very simple and effective stretching exercise needs a wall. The goal is to stretch the muscles of the posterior chain of the leg muscles (hamstrings, gastrocnemius, soleus). It consists of lying on the ground with your legs up along a wall. First of all, let’s lie down on the ground near a wall, and then lift our legs, rotating on ourselves, and lean them against the wall, keeping the bottom about 20/25 centimeters from the wall itself.

The head must be stretched towards the opposite wall and the gaze turned towards the ceiling, possibly placing a low pillow under the neck. The feet are hammered, and the goal is to keep the legs straight. The closer the butt is to the wall, the more tension in the back of the thighs increases. As always, start slowly and day after day try to gain an inch at a time by bringing the pelvis close to the wall.

We suggest you to watch some of the videos in which some exercises useful to the subject in question are visible.

Link to videos:

Stretching the leg muscles (Channel “The Other Rehabilitation)

Exercise “Squadra al muro” (Channel of Dr. Marco Segina)

Exercises for the diaphragm (Channel “The Other Rehabilitation)

In the next post we will talk about exercises useful to improve the abdominal muscles.