Lower-back pain (LP) is increasingly on the rise. According to the American Chiropractic Association, lower-back pain costs the US 50 billion dollars every year in treatment and rehabilitation costs, not counting the loss of man-days and productivity.
If lower-back pain is so common, what causes it? Well, the back is a complex structure consisting of a vertical spinal column supported by horizontal vertebrae and a set of discs below to cushion the back bone. A network of muscles, ligaments and tendons provide the packing and support for this framework. A health condition in any of these tissues can trigger lower back pain. These vary from:
Causes for lower-back pain (LP)
Body structure: People who are very frail or at the other end, very obese, are equally prone to LP. In the first case, the lack of adequate muscle mass to support the back is the cause. In the latter case, the excess weight to be carried all the time wears out the skeleton.
Poor diet: A diet that is poor in protein or calcium and rich in refined, high-fat, high-carb foods can weaken the bones over tome and cause osteopenia (thinning of the bones) or osteoporosis (porous bones) which can trigger LP.
Cancers: An earlier incident of cancer in the abdominal or thoracic area, and treatment for the same, could have reduced the muscle mass or weakened the spine. This can trigger bouts of LP.
Certain health conditions: Diabetes, high BP and various health conditions affect the overall quality of muscle and bone in the back, triggering LP.
Injuries: An earlier incident of fracture, sprain, ligament tear, muscle pull, etc can weaken the bones or muscles in the lower-back triggering LP.
Occupational hazards: Sitting for long hours on a chair or in a vehicle, carrying heavy loads without proper care, stretching or working in an uncomfortable posture are all triggers for LP.
Lifestyle related: A sedentary lifestyle can weaken bones and muscles in the lower-back, causing LP eventually. So also, tobacco, drug and alcohol abuse can cause osteopenia, osteoporosis and reduced muscle mass over time, triggering LP.
Genetic causes: People with a family history of arthritis, osteoporosis, cancer, etc are more vulnerable to LP than those who are not.
Weight Training as an excellent therapy
Contrary to popular belief, one should not avoid exercise during or after a bout of LP. Weight-training, strength-training or resistance-training exercises help reverse muscle loss, maintain muscle mass and strengthen the bones over time, thereby relieving LP. Cardio-exercises alone are not enough as they largely focus on increasing metabolism and reducing body fat. While obese people can also do cardio, strength—training is the better option for long-term relief. Increased muscle mass also increases metabolism, which helps reduce fat.
Why a Personal Trainer?
If you suffer from LP, it’s not a good idea to hit the gym on your own. To begin with, check with your doctor when you can start weight-training. After that, engage a personal trainer who will design a program that is customized for you. He or she will also monitor you closely throughout to ensure you get the best results. A personal trainer will factor all of these:
The right mix: Resistance training is not just dumbbells, barbells or kettle-bells. There are a whole lot of free-hand exercises which are great for easing LP. Your trainer will design a program that is the right mix of both free-hand and weight-lifting exercises for best results.
The right weights: It’s also important to know how much weight is good, or not good. Too much weight too soon can worsen your condition while too less weight for too long makes little difference.
The right exercises: All weight-training exercises are not the same. Depending on your age, weight, body structure and intensity of LP, the trainer will select exercises that are suited to you.
The regimen: In general when it comes to weight-lifting, how much weight to lift and how many repetitions to perform depend on what you are trying to achieve. The trainer will bear this in mind and design the program that way!
The Do’s and Don’ts: The right way to lift weights, bending or not bending your knees, tensing or not tensing your abs, when to inhale and when to exhale, exhaling through the nose or mouth, the right shoes or clothing, resting between breaks – these are various dos and don’ts around these.
In addition to the above, a personal trainer will also guide you regarding diet-plans, sleep schedules and exercise schedules. Most self-learners are clueless about such things, and this can worsen the condition, or make little improvement for those with LP. A personal trainer is aware of this and will tell you everything you need to know, at just the right time. This will go a long way in eliminating lower-back pain from your life.