The spine is a very complex part of your anatomy, which has incredible strength and flexibility. However, this also makes it vulnerable to developing problems. For example, because many nerves travel through your spine and into various parts of your body, lower back injuries can lead to leg and hip pain.
In July 2021, I prolapsed 3 of my lumbar discs from simply lifting a large plant pot and moving it around 6 feet, something I had done hundreds of times. Over subsequent weeks I developed significant sciatica down my entire left leg up to my lower back. Sleeping was impossible, as was exercising, down to simple daily tasks like walking upstairs and getting off the sofa.
Fourteen months later, after an MRI, a surgical nerve root block and numerous painkillers, the problem is still there and regrettably worse. (I’m currently waiting for a second MRI and a consultation with a spinal therapist). So, even though I still do my daily core strengthening exercises two times a day and stretches, what else can I recommend you do to help prevent experiencing the same predicament?
- Invest in a good chair if you spend a lot of time sitting in front of a computer for work. Maintain a good posture and avoid slouching. Stand up and move around so your core muscles are engaged and blood flows and feeds the structure with nutrients.
- Pace yourself when doing daily tasks such as hoovering or gardening. Don’t spend too long bending over before you have a rest, and stand up straight. Where possible, avoid twisting whilst bending over to reduce risk to the spine.
- Learn to lift correctly. Bend your knees, keep your back straight, keep the object close to your chest and don’t try and be a He-Man and raise too much! Instead, use a lifting device such as a trolley or employ someone to help you if required.
- Stretch your hamstrings-and I don’t mean just after exercise! Tight hamstrings can be a common cause of back pain. In addition, stretching your hamstrings can release pressure through your glutes, pelvis, and, potentially, your back. Always check with your physio, PT and therapist which stretches are best.
- If you experience back or sciatic pain that doesn’t go away after a week or two, go and see your GP and try to protect it as much as possible. Unless the pain is unbearable, keep moving gently, such as walking and gently be mobile. Consider taking a break from training until you are diagnosed, just in case you cause further injury!