In a previous article, You May Be A Morning Person But Your Back Is Not, I mentioned that the lower back is vulnerable in the morning after arising. Having been a chiropractor for over 35 years I suggested starting slowly the first hour of the day and letting the back warm-up before engaging in rigorous activity. My experience has shown that patients who follow this idea are less likely to hurt their back.
With this article we will go into more detail with specific steps one can take in the morning to help the back, rather than worsen a back complaint.
We can start protecting our back as soon as we awaken. When we get out of the bed, we usually perform some version of a sit up. Sit ups in the morning increase the pressure on disks of the back thus increasing the chance of injuring the back. A better way to get up is to perform a “side up.” A side up is performed by turning onto one side or the other and swinging the legs over the side of the bed as we raise our self up with our arms.
Next, we can perform some safe, gentle stretching exercises in the morning. An exercise as simple as lying on our back and gently pulling each knee up towards the chest for five seconds, for five repetitions can be effective in warming up the back. Gentle yoga type stretching is another helpful method to get the back ready for the stresses of the day.
Once we are up and about getting ourselves ready and presentable for the day it is wise to start slowly with our activities. Don’t do repetitive bending at the waist or lifting and carrying heavy items at the beginning of the day. For instance, years ago, I learned the hard way that carrying a heavy suitcase to my car in the morning, for an early plane flight is not a good idea. I strained my back by doing this and had a difficult flight and the first few days of my trip. Now, I carry my suitcase down to the car the night before a trip, when my back is good and warmed up.
Likewise performing chores like vacuuming, gardening or grass cutting, or morning exercise classes like Zumba are best put off until later in the morning or the day. Try to perform gentler, easier tasks earlier in the day.
These several ideas, if followed over time, are great simple ideas to avoid lower back pain.