Is Your Spine Ready for Summer?
You may be ready to welcome summer, but is your back? Taking a few precautions now, such as visiting your chiropractor, will help you ensure you're ready to experience all the fun the season offers.
Is Your Spine Properly Aligned? If Not, You May Be at Risk for Back Pain
Summer is the perfect time to try a new hobby or sport, transform your yard into a gardener's paradise, or brush up on your tennis skills. Unfortunately, the summer activities you enjoy can spell trouble for your back, particularly if you haven't been very active during the winter.
Although injuries rise during the entire summer, hospitals see a sharp increase in emergency room visits on July 4 and 5, according to the Pew Research Center. Some of the visits are due to firework injuries, but sports- and exercise-related injuries and falls also bring people to the emergency room.
It's impossible to completely prevent injuries, but you can reduce your risk of back pain if your spine is properly aligned. Inactivity, poor posture, falls, sports injuries, and even stress can cause subluxations in your spine. Subluxations occur when one or more vertebrae become misaligned. The vertebrae are the small hollow bones that protect your spinal cord and allow you to stand upright and bend, twist, and move easily.
Back pain and stiffness are common symptoms of subluxations, but they're not the only problems a misaligned vertebra can cause. Subluxations can:
- Press on Nerves in your Back, Causing or Increasing Pain in Your Back, Neck, Buttocks, or Legs
- Painfully Tighten Muscles, Ligaments, and Tendons
- Trigger Muscle Spasms
- Change Your Gait
- Interfere with the Normal Function of Your Organs Due to Pressure on the Nerves
- Affect Your Body's Natural Balance, Causing One Side to Become Weaker than the Other
- Cause Headaches or Fatigue
Unfortunately, it's easier to hurt your back when you're weeding the flower bed or playing a pickup game of softball at a family picnic if you have a subluxation. If your spine isn't properly aligned, you may be more likely to strain the muscles in your back, sprain the ligaments that hold the bones in a joint together, or injure a spinal disc.
A disc herniation could also spell trouble for your spine. Spinal discs absorb shock and give the spine its flexibility. If these discs begin to bulge, or they rupture and the gel inside the disc oozes out, you may experience pain, weakness, numbness, and tingling in your back, legs, or arms. Discs begin to deteriorate due to age-related wear and tear or injuries. Fortunately, chiropractic treatment can relieve painful pressure on your spinal discs.
How to Prepare Your Back for Summer Activities
Protect your back by following these tips:
- Visit Your Chiropractor. Correcting subluxations and loosening tight muscles and tissues before you become more active is the simplest way to prevent back pain. Chiropractors correct subluxations with spinal manipulation, a treatment that realigns the spine with quick thrusts. In a low back pain study conducted on members of the military, participants who received chiropractic care in addition to usual medical treatment showed more improvement in pain and function than those who only received medication or physical therapy. The study was published in the May 2018 issues of JAMA Network Open. Chiropractors also offer other helpful treatments for back pain, including massage, soft tissue mobilization, electrical nerve stimulation, traction, flexion-distraction, and ultrasound therapy.
- Stretch: Stretching before any activity is a must. A few minutes of stretching increases your flexibility and range of motion, improves circulation to your muscles and tissues, and loosens tight muscles. Combine stretching with exercises that strengthen the muscles in your core. When your core is strong, you're less likely to experience injuries that cause back pain.
- Be Smart: Is it really a good idea to show your kids your most amazing skateboard tricks when you haven't been on a skateboard in 15 years? Should you lift that heavy branch by yourself instead of waiting for help?
Don't let back pain ruin your summer. Call the chiropractor today to schedule your visit.
Pew Research Center: Hospital Emergency Rooms See Boom in Patients Around the Fourth of July, 7/3/2019
JAMA Network Open: Innovating to Improve Care for Low Back Pain in the Military, 5/18/2018
National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health: Spinal Manipulation: What You Need To Know, 9/2022
MedlinePlus: Chiropractic Care for Back Pain, 7/8/2021