Back Hygiene

Low back pain incidence has risen and according to Stats Canada, 4 out of 5 adults will suffer from this chronic condition.  This is no surprise as generally lifestyles keep evolving to make us move less. Ages ago, people had to hunt for food and were constantly on the move, thus being more active.  Now everything is so convenient and easily achieved that the need to move to get something has been eliminated, for example, you can order food on your phone and the only time you will need to move is to get up from the couch to pick up the food right at your door.  Most jobs are sedentary as well, with workers sitting for 8 hours in front of a computer.

This increase in seated time causes the muscles around our core to weaken from lack of movement.  When a heavy object is lifted or when a sudden action happens, the risk of lower back pain increases because of this. Overall, back pain significantly impacts physical and mental well-being, leading to disturbances in daily life.

We can avoid the occurrences of low back pain by being more aware, and engaging in physical activity regularly and strengthening areas like our hips and core.  One movement that can be incorporated in any dynamic warm up before exercise or just at home, is the Bird Dog. It is among one of the “Big 3” exercises prescribed by Dr.Stuart McGill, whose research involves spine biomechanics and health.  By adding this exercise to your daily routine, not only might you find some relief from back pain, but you can help prevent it by encouraging use of your core and movement of your hips and shoulders.

This is how you can do the bird dog:

  • Get on the floor on all fours
  • Slowly raise your opposite arm and leg at the same time, i.e, if you are raising your right arm, you will also lift your left leg
    • You are lifting the arm and leg so they are parallel to the floor.  Brace your core gently, so your midsection does not twist or bend.
  • Hold the position for 8-10 seconds
  • Switch sides and repeat
  • Modification: To make this easier, start by lifting only the arm and eventually adding the leg.

Taking care of the back is so important, as a healthy back improves quality of life by allowing us to participate in our activities of daily living pain-free!