Every week, people say "my back went out on me" at our Prior Lake Chiropractic office.
When someone “throws out their back”, it could mean any number of things has taken place. They may have pulled a muscle or strained a ligament. In some cases of arthritis, they may have “pinched” a nerve along one of the jagged surfaces of a bone in the spine.
Some people “throw out their back” more often than others, so let’s take a look at some of the contributory factors. This way, you can see if you may have any red flags and take action to prevent this from happening to you. Also, check out our two videos below.
Here are the top four factors common among patients in my own chiropractic practice who tend to “throw out” their backs most often (along with some preventable measures):
Rotational Movements. When people throw out their lower or midback, they usually say they were doing some rotational movement at the time. Specifically, front-loading the lower back vertebrae and then twisting as they come back toward a neutral position.
Giving one last round of goodbye hugs to young grandchildren, shoveling snow, cleaning the garage and taking out the trash are all examples of activities that cause us to have much rotational movement in our mid and lower back.
2 Tips: Before doing these activities, make sure your chin is retracted just like a soldier at attention. Not tucking your chin down but locking it back. When you do this, it’s pretty much impossible to have bad mid and lower back posture.
Another tip is to find your belly button and trace around the other side to your lower back. This should be at the level of L3 which is the middle of your lower back. If you can, try to pinch the skin from the top-to-bottom. Now pretend that you are golfing with an iron from the fairway. When you go down to lift something, you should be able to maintain that skin pinch. If your skin stretches and you do not maintain that “skin pinch”, this means that you’re front loading your spine and transferring your weight to discs. Over time, this can lead to cracking and bulging of the discs which are the cushions between your individual vertebrae.
Obesity. Obesity associated with various health problems. This includes weakness in the connective tissues that hold the vertebrae together. Muscles and ligaments distend outward, from the middle. This weakens the integrity of the spinal structure, especially when bending…and even more so when bending and then rotating (twisting). Not only that, it accelerates the effects of gravity. Gravity compresses the spine and the extra weight can turn a good spine into a bad one and a bad spine into a potentially non-recoverably bad one.
Tip: Lose the extra weight. If you’ve tried unsuccessfully in the past you need to change your approach. Consider what you’re motivated by. In high school I was assigned to visit a laryngectomee support group and write about my experience. Sitting around a bunch of people with a hole in their neck sounding like a robot with their speech device was enough to convince me to not make certain lifestyle choices. There are genetic factors involved a lot of times with excess weight, but anything you can to drop a couple of pounds will be helpful.
Lack of Water. Now we’re getting into factors involving the spinal discs. A healthy disc contains about 90% water. You probably are not getting enough water every day. You need to forget about the “8 glasses of water” idea. It doesn’t take a genius to know that no two glasses are the same size and, if you’re like most people, you forget how many glasses you’re on by the time you get to your fourth one. Glasses don’t work very well for running errands either because they can break and spill easily.
Tip: Your best bet is to get a large container that you fill up once or twice a day. It should be calibrated on the side with the number of ounces or milliliters. This way you can keep track of what you’re taking in. A rule of thumb is to take your weight (in pounds) and divide it by two. Take this number in OUNCES and this is how much water you should be putting down every day. I know it seems like a lot. The good news is it will help you with your oxygen circulation and you’ll find that you need to use the restroom less often over time. And if you’re overweight, this will HELP you lose weight because dehydration and obesity go together.
There are hundreds of chiropractic methods. Because of this, it can be confusing to know which is the right for your situation. That's why we make all these videos....so you can really get a feel of what we're about.
With regards to the technicalities of what we do, we know that accidents and injuries cause the spine to lose its center of gravity. This is a top-down phenomena, as the rest of the body will counteract the imbalance that occurs in the top of the spine.
Because of the weight of the head and the larger amount of motion occurring in the top of the neck, the neck tends to be less stable than other parts of the spine. Additionally, the nerves are more important in the brainstem area than anywhere else in the spine. That's why the rest of the spine will compensate for what's occurring in the top.
We focus on re-orienting the person with gravity once again so that their centers of motion naturally return on their own. Because of our specificity, we're able to make the spinal adjustment super gentle and have a full-spine effect. Very simply, if we know which key goes into the lock (knowing the shapes of the joints and mis-alignment in all three dimensions), then we shouldn't have to try to "jam" it back into place. There is no snapping, twisting, or cracking of the spine whatsoever.