Important Information About Back Stresses and Strains
Your back muscles are more important than you may realize. They support your entire body even when you’re sitting up or reclined in bed. If your back muscles didn’t work right you would be constantly slouched over and would not be able to reach forward, hold your head up, or perform even minor tasks.
Because back muscles are used for so many tasks and to support your body in so many ways, it’s not uncommon to have back stresses and strains. People often don’t use their back muscles correctly and may cause strains by lifting heavy objects, by using their back muscles during a workout routine, or by slouching while sitting. Some stresses are minor and may work themselves out in a few days while others can cause major problems for years. If left untreated, you may have pain and discomfort in your back or you may even eventually need surgical intervention.
To protect against back stresses and strains and to better understand injuries or conditions you might have, first consider how the back is constructed. The spine is made up of cushioning disks that separate each sections and which help to absorb the shock of impact when you move. The lower muscles of the back start around the area of the hips. These muscles work with your leg muscles when you walk or run or bend. They also support the front and upper part of the body, keeping you upright and balanced. The middle muscles of the back are connected to the shoulder and these work with the arm muscles when you reach or move your arms. The upper back helps to give additional support to your neck and shoulders.
Stresses and strains can affect any of these areas of the back. You may strain your upper back and feel as if you cannot turn your head, or you may pull the lower back muscles and feel pain when sitting. If you damage the disks in your spine this can lead to pain when you walk or feel any type of impact, and when you bend or twist.
Causes of Strains
Improper use of the back muscles can strain them; they get pulled out of place if you overextend the muscles, such as when playing sports. Those who play sports that involve jumping such as basketball or volleyball are particularly vulnerable since the back muscles not only support movement but cushion the impact of the landing. Playing any sport after some time away can also cause stresses, as your muscles are no longer trained after a break.
Being overweight is another common cause of stresses and strains. The back muscles work to support your entire body and the more you weigh, the harder they work to support you and push you forward to move. When you’re overweight, those extra pounds are pushing against your back muscles at all times. It’s not uncommon for those who are overweight and especially obese to have back pain almost constantly, and to need more medical intervention for back problems.
Symptoms of Back Stress and Strain
Back stress may be somewhat obvious; you feel pain along the back muscles or up and down the spine. Other symptoms may include numbness and even swelling in the back, and spasms or cramping. If the pain is mild you may be able to treat it at home but if the pain or swelling is so severe that it interferes with everyday life or makes you unable to sleep, you may need medical intervention. Long-term or chronic back pain should also be addressed by a doctor so that serious conditions can be treated properly.
One common misconception about treating back stresses and strains is that you want to get lots of bed rest. In truth, getting exercise and moving around will increase your blood circulation which in turn will help to heal your back. When you let muscles rest, they become stagnant and stiff and this delays the healing process. You don’t want to put undue pressure on your muscles but being inactive can actually make an injury worse. To loosen and stretch muscles, walk around at a leisurely pace regularly, and when you do need to sit down, lay on your stomach with a pillow under your upper body to alleviate pressure on the back.
Stretching is also vital for back injuries and stresses or strains. Yoga is a great pain reliever and a great way to move your entire body and all your muscles. If you’ve never tried yoga or any stretching routine, find a beginner’s routine you can follow so you don’t overexert yourself.
Losing weight is also vital if you have back problems. This may be the most difficult thing a person may attempt but it’s also the most important for all aspects of their health. Regular exercise loosens the back and helps to burn calories, so invest in a good bike or elliptical machine so you can work out regularly. If back pain persists, seek medical intervention for a thorough exam.