Has Back Pain Burned Your Your Thanksgiving Plans?
Tips for preventing back pain and how PT can help you heal
By Ben Wobker, PT, MSPT, CSCS, SFMAc
From hefting a 20-pound turkey to chasing the grandkids, Thanksgiving Day can give your body a serious workout. If you have back pain—upper, middle, or lower—you may not be feeling very thankful.
According to Spine-Health, lower back pain is usually described by the type of onset and the pain’s duration. For example, acute lower back pain comes on suddenly but gradually eases up. Subacute lower pain lasts between six weeks and three months. Chronic pain lasts more than three months, doesn’t respond to first-line treatments, and tends to be more severe.
The most common symptoms of lower back pain include:
Dull or achy pain
Stinging, burning pain
Tightness in the back
Difficulty standing up straight or walking
Lower back pain, in particular, is a common ailment; according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), it affects about 80% of adults at some point during their lifetimes. Back pain is caused or influenced by a multitude of factors: age, disease, muscle strain, abnormal curvature of the spine, traumatic injury, and lifestyle choices.
Eat a healthy diet (you can still have a piece of pie).
Keep moving—your physical therapist can recommend the best exercises for you.
Avoid sitting around or staying in bed too long (except for your post-feast nap).
Be sure to warm up or stretch before exercising or doing physical activities (like the turkey trot).
Maintain a proper posture. Again, your PT can help you.
Wear comfortable, low-heeled shoes.
Minimize any curve in your spine by sleeping on a medium-firm mattress.
Lift the right way—using your knees, keeping the object close to your body, and not twisting.
Quit smoking. Smoking reduces blood flow, depriving spinal tissues of oxygen and nutrients.
Make sure your workstation is ergonomically correct. Your on-demand physical therapist can show you how to do this, whether you work at home or in an office.
On-Demand Physical Therapy for Lower Back Pain
PT is a highly recommended treatment for back pain. The experts at NINDS note that “Physical therapy programs to strengthen core muscle groups that support the low back, improve mobility and flexibility, and promote proper positioning and posture are often used in combinations with other interventions.” And with on-demand physical therapy, you get focused, one-on-one time with your PT at home, the office, or wherever you need it, so you can feel better faster. That’s a real reason to give thanks!