If you have a dog and back pain, or want to help prevent back pain, read the following tips to help reduce it!
Dogs can help you to be more active and spend more time in an upright standing position walking around, which is great for your back! In modern society we tend to spend far too much time sitting, which is not good for your back.
However, having a dog also involves many repetitions each day of bending down and interacting with things at ground level. When you reach down to pet your dog, pick up toys, or clean up a mess your furry friend has made, this repetitive motion can place stress and irritation on your back and contribute to back pain, unless you are mindful to complete the motion with proper biomechanics. Each time you bend down, you are either making your muscles stronger and reinforcing a healthy habit for your body, or slowly contributing to degenerative injuries that can often be prevented.
What do I mean by that? Make sure you slowly lower yourself down into a squat motion and actively stabilizing with your gluteal muscles (buttocks). It is also very important to engage your core by pulling in your belly button toward your spine- as if you are putting on a tight pair of pants.
If your habit is to bend at the waist or passively rest on your bent knees, over time this will place strain on your back or knees. The cumulative result of this repetitive motion will be pain in your back or knee(s), unless the motion is performed correctly.
The body’s natural tendency is to conserve energy. This involves resting on connective tissue rather than using muscles to provide stability. Another example of this would be slouched sitting versus sitting up straight in a chair. The problem with this strategy is that it is not healthy and causes pain over time. In the low back, excessive forward bending causes strain on muscles and can contribute to a bulging disc, if not counteracted by the correct exercises, stretches, and manual therapy that help to restore the balance of forces acting on your back day after day. At the knees, the posterior horn of the meniscus gets compressed by passively resting on bent knees, which in time leads to discomfort. Your muscles need to be active in order to properly distribute the pressure of your body weight. Remember that it is always easier to prevent pain than it is to heal pain after it has become a problem. When bending to interact with things at ground level, remember to squat with proper form!
Proper form to squat with optimal biomechanics (help save your back and knees over time):
- Put your feet shoulder width apart, with your toes pointing straight forward (or slightly outward). You should feel your buttocks muscles working as you slowly bend your knees and lower yourself- 4 seconds on the way up and 4 seconds on the way down.
- Press through your heels not your toes. Do not let your knees wobble. Your knees should not bend inward toward your center, instead your knees should bend toward the outside borders of your feet.
- Engage your core by pulling in your belly button toward your spine- as if you are putting on a tight pair of pants.
Avoid always bending asymmetrically to one side, or putting uneven pressure through your feet. Alternating the hand that you use to pick up the toy from the ground can help with this. Make sure you are slowly lowering yourself down into a squat motion and actively stabilizing with your gluteal muscles (buttocks). It is also very important to engage your core by pulling in your belly button toward your spine- as if you are putting on a tight pair of pants.
These are just a few bite-sized tips to get you started on the right path to prevent or reduce your back pain. If you or a loved one are interested in finding a natural, long-term solution to back pain, call Better Way Physical Therapy at 512-763-9330. Better Way Physical Therapy is located in Georgetown, TX and specializes in manual therapy to heal back pain, neck pain, and shoulder pain in adults over the age of 40.
Your Doctor of Physical Therapy can evaluate your body and determine which specific exercises will be most beneficial for your individual case. 1-on-1 instruction in these exercises ensures proper performance and muscle activation. Your Doctor of Physical Therapy can create a high quality individualized exercise program for YOU as part of your plan of care, in addition to highly skilled manual therapy to accelerate your healing process. The exercises prescribed to you will reinforce and compliment the improvement caused by manual therapy, and stabilize your body structures in their optimal position so that you do not become dependent on returning to the clinic for additional manual therapy adjustments. Better Way Physical Therapy is able to empower you with a long term solution to your back pain so that you are able to move better, live better, and feel better! Our mission is to improve your quality of life by helping you to live pain free so you are able to enjoy the activities you love.
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The Low Back Pain Treatment Services provided by Better Way Physical Therapy are described in much greater detail in the Free Back Pain Report below: