Keeping Your Back Straight

WABC—NEW YORK CITY—May 24, 2007

 

Anyone with a bad back can tell you what a pain it is.

The trials we put our backs through—lifting, pushing and just walking around, carrying heavy stuff. All it takes is a little twist to make a person's back muscles cramp up, tear or even worse.

"They can actually injure structures below the muscles—structures that are more involved with the actual spine, such as a disk—or they could aggravate their nerve, which will also cause some pain," said Kataliya Palmieri, P.T., of Hospital for Special Surgery.

Palmieri showed us some exercises to strengthen and protect the back from all the things we do to it:

  1. First were the stretching exercises, starting with the calves and  hamstrings.

    Why is it important to stretch the hamstrings? Because they’re  connected to the pelvis; so if they’re tight, they can pull on the  pelvis and the back.
     
  2. In the second stretch, it's hands behind the knee to stretch the  buttocks and the opposite thigh.
     
  3. The last stretch is for the buttocks, which can pull on the back  when they’re tight.

From these we go to some strengthening exercises. The stronger your back is, the less likely it is to be injured.

  1. First, contract the tummy to support the back with strong stomach  muscles,
     
  2. Second, turn onto the stomach for some straight leg lifts.

    "It's also targeting your abdominal and your lower back muscles,  which support your spine," Palmieri said.
     
  3. Third, do some rowing to work the upper back.

You can do these on your own, but to do them right, it's wise for people to have professional help.

"They could also see a physical therapist for a home exercise program, so we can fully evaluate how they're doing and what they may or may not need," Palmieri said.

To read the full story and view photos of the stretching exercises, visit 7online.com.

 

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