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Written by Bob Bovee Sunday, 27 February 2011 19:00
One of the major obstacles facing a person when recovering from an injury is the possibility of re-injury. This is especially true when recovering from low back problems. Re-injury may occur because of inadequate reconditioning and lack of rehabilitative exercise.
When an injury forces a layoff, as most low back injuries do, there is muscle weakness and a decrease in muscle tone, size and strength. If the person recovering from the injury tries to jump right into a training routine or weekend sport without a period of rehabilitation, the chance of re-injury is greatly increased. Remember that it may take 6 - 8 weeks or longer to fully rehabilitate a low back injury.
In the case of disc damage, it may take several months of intensive rehabilitative exercise before strength, flexibility and full function are restored. In general, rehabilitation should begin as soon as possible after the injury. Remember to always check with your physician before starting a rehabilitation program or returning to your normal routines.
The first few weeks of your rehabilitation program should be spent emphasizing flexibility and range of motion through the use of non-resistance exercise. Once flexibility is restored you should be no heavier than 40 - 50 % of your pre-injury training poundage. If these weights are too heavy be sure and listen to your body and not your ego.
Repetitions should be kept high, in the 15 - 20 range. If you can't perform 15 reps, then the resistance is too high. The idea of this part of your rehabilitation is to concentrate on strict form while rebuilding muscle strength and endurance. Your goal is to gradually rehabilitate the injured area until you can return to pre-injury activity and workout levels.
For best results, perform two exercises for each muscle group and use no more than two sets for each. If an exercise causes additional pain, immediately stop doing this and try something else. This type of light resistance program should be followed for at least 4 - 6 weeks. If you decide to make any changes in your program make sure to consult your physician.
Guide Lines for Back Pain Treatment
· Get medical attention immediately for a severe back injury like a fall, or if a fever accompanies back pain. If individuals experience loss of strength or numbness in their legs, or if they have loss of bladder or bowel control, they should seek immediate medical attention.
· Try at-home treatment for a week or two before consulting a physician for mild to moderate episodes of back pain. If symptoms appear to be worsening, contact a physician immediately.
· Following muscle strain in the back, it is recommended that individuals rest, but for no more than two or three days.
· If possible, take over-the-counter painkillers.
· Cold packs applied to the painful area for five to ten minutes at a time are helpful within the first 48 hours after injury. After the initial period, a heating pad, a warm whirlpool bath or hot shower may provide temporary relief.
· Start your normal activities and careful exercise as soon as possible.
Preventing Back Injuries
Preventing back pain may be more effective and beneficial than treating it. Back specialists offer several suggestions for preventing back injuries and back pain:
· Don’t Smoke. Studies show that individuals with severe back pain were more likely to be heavy smokers. Smoking reduces blood flow to the discs, possibly causing them to degenerate.
· Lift properly. The farther you hold or carry an object away from you body, the greater the potential for back injury. Bend from your knees and keep objects close to your body when lifting.
· Don’t sit for long periods. Stand up at intervals, like when talking on the phone. When driving long distances, periodically stop and walk around. When traveling on a commercial airplane, walk the aisles.
· Use a stable chair. Your chair should have armrests, and anti-slide surface and back support. When sitting in a chair, your knees should be slightly above the level of you hips.
· Maintain a healthy weight. Carrying extra body weight, particularly in abdominal region, can throw the body off balance, resulting in poor posture, adding extra stress on the back.
· Exercise regularly. Muscles of the back, in combination with spinal ligaments, provide the foundation of strength and support for the entire spinal column. Exercise increases the strength and efficiency of muscles in the trunk and lower back. With exercise, the back is better able to withstand sudden movements and improper bending or lifting. Choose low-impact exercises (walking, stair climbing, cycling, etc.) that develops the back, trunk and leg muscles without jarring the spine.
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