Keep Your Back from “Going Out” – Three Easy Ways

It’s that time of year (pandemic or not) where stress levels tend to rise, our lives feel a bit rushed in the midst of Holiday season, and sometimes we get snow – which means shoveling…

It’s prime time to “throw out” your back.

Did you know that four out of five people will experience a debilitating back pain episode at one point during their lives?

Typically, we put more effort into caring for our backs during those times than when we’re feeling good…

But it’s critical that we take good care of our backs ALL the time, not just when we’re in pain!

The secret to keeping your back from “going out” on you is in the day to day – and here are three very easy and practical ways to do that…

1. Avoid sitting for prolonged periods.

When we sit for too long, the burden of our weight is placed abnormally on our spine and can cause damage over time. Before long, those small loads add up to real pain.

It makes sense when you consider that our bodies were designed to stand, sit, crawl, run, kneel, bend and move through the world in many different ways. It was never designed to sit in one position for prolonged periods, day after day. Sit too long, too often, and it can lead to bulging discs and weak, brittle muscles that are prone to tearing and other damage.

The solution?

Limit your sitting to half-hour periods with a few minutes of standing in between, and you’ll reduce the uni-directional forces on your spine. In other words, if you sit for a long time at work or at home, stand up and walk around a little bit every thirty minutes. I give this advice to every single client I have who comes to see me with back problems, and it’s the easiest way for the average person to prevent a debilitating back problem.

2. Pay attention to the curves in your spine.

We have natural curves in our spine that help us handle stress and loads. Whether sitting or standing, it’s important to maintain these curves. When standing, our spinal curves occur more naturally and are usually easier to maintain. When we sit, the protective curves in our spine are harder to maintain and often disappear, most of the time without you even realizing it.

And while a healthy core and strong back muscles are important to back health, they won’t protect your back if you sit for long periods.

Fortunately, the solution is as simple as using a “lumbar roll” every time you sit.

We sell specialized lumbar rolls in our office because they are the exact shape you need and it’s more convenient than trying to make your own (reply back to this email if you want to buy one!)

But making your own is not that difficult…

Just roll up a towel, or even a sweatshirt, and place it between the small of your back and the chair. It should be thick enough to support you and help you to maintain the natural curve in your lower back without much effort. My clients are amazed at how effective this one simple tip is for helping to control and prevent back pain.

3. Extend instead of bend.

Did you know that the average person bends or flexes forward between three and five thousand times per day?!

That’s a lot of bending over time and eventually something will give… and it tends to be your back!

Our spines crave balance, but unfortunately, our modern-day lives are designed to have us bending forward more than we should. Sitting in front of a computer, putting shoes and socks on, driving, house/yard work, and even brushing your teeth are all daily activities that involve bending.

To combat this, we need to make a concerted effort to extend instead of bend.

A really simple exercise you can do every day is to stand and extend your spine. Place your hands on your lower back for support and then arch back as far as you can go. Repeat this 10 times, at least once per day. If you’ve never arched your back like this before, it may feel stiff or even hurt a little at first. But with a gradual increase in frequency, it will feel less stiff and more natural over the course of a few days. If it doesn’t, or becomes troublesome for you that could be a sign that you need some help from specialists like us.

If you’ve had more than a few back pain episodes in your life, these tips may not be enough and it might be time to get some expert help.

But if you’ve only had one or two episodes, or maybe you’ve been lucky enough to have NEVER thrown your back out, these tips could really save you!

Getting rid of a back problem really isn’t as complicated as you think – and you can definitely do it successfully WITHOUT pills or surgery.

It starts with simple tips like these 🙂

PS – If you’re back has already “gone out” and the idea of cleaning up, cooking, wrapping gifts and getting through this season sounds like a nightmare – it might be time to talk to a specialist. Click here to request a Free Discovery Session. We’ll let you know what we think is going on, if you’re a good fit for what we do, and if you want help we’ll tell you how to get it!


You can also start by giving us a call at 202 670 8874 or email at or fill out this form and we will schedule a time that works for you to talk to us for free.

Trupti Mehta, PT, MS, OCS

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