“Every time I vacuum, mop, or rake the leaves, I get lower back pain.” This makes my days challenging. I try to take my time and allow for rest breaks but it still hurts. So now I dread doing it. But, it has to get done and no one else will do it. What can I do?
This is a common complaint from many of my patients. My name is Jodi Jainchill and I am a Physical Therapist. I have been a physical therapist for over eleven years and have advanced certifications in manual therapy and I am Pilates certified. I understand the house work needs to get done. Therefore, education is the best tool for my patients. It must be understood that you need the stability, strength, flexibility, and endurance to do the task at hand. You also have to have correct posture while doing these tasks. So, what does this all mean?
When you strengthen your core muscles, you gain core stability. That is, stability of your trunk so that you can perform tasks safely. Gregg Johnson, pioneer physical therapist, says our core muscles include the transverse abdominus, pelvic floor muscles, multifidus, quadratus lumborum and deep fibers of the hip flexors. I have begun using the hoola hoop as part of my patient’s lower back exercise program to wake up these core muscles.
One important component of tapping into your core muscles is having your body in correct alignment. Yes, that means good posture. But you must understand, good posture does not mean a “stiff” military posture. We must learn to align our body’s correctly in a relaxed posture. That is where flexibility comes in. Often the chest muscles are tight from reading or being at the computer. Also your hamstrings and hip flexors are tight from too much sitting. These muscles being tight can pull on your lower back and not allow correct posture.
Once your body learns to stabilize, you can begin a strengthening program to meet your daily functional goals. For example, vacuuming, mopping, or raking. It is also important to learn correct body mechanics while doing your activities. Many people know to bend their knees when they squat. The problem is they still round their back. When you round you back, over time, the “twig will break”. Yes, your back is like a twig. After a few thousand improper bends, the ligaments or nerves will scream out in pain. The key is to keep your spine aligned in “neutral” while doing activities to keep correct posture.
So, yes. Lower back exercises are the foundation to a healthy back. Learning how hoola hooping as part of your lower back exercise program helps focus on your core stabilizers and helps improve posture and alignment. It also increases circulation to help improve flexibility and endurance. It is a fun workout that you can do at home.
Jodi Jainchill PT, CFMT
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University of Indianapolis Communications » University of … – Occupational therapy graduate students from the University of Indianapolis will be visiting an Indianapolis elementary school September 24 to teach fourth and fifth-graders the proper way to wear backpacks to avoid back injury. Some 25 graduate students will be at St. , from 7:45 to 9:15 that morning in advance of the first-ever National Backpack Awareness Day, September 25.