Back Pain. Coming to a town near you soon!
Did you know that back pain is the number one reason Brits miss work?
Nearly 500,00 people take time off each year to deal with their pain. It is a multi-billion pound problem that affects us all. Experts estimate that the toll on the economy is as great as £1 billion each year.
Think you’re in the clear? If you live in the U.K., you have an 85 percent chance of experiencing LBP in your lifetime. Let’s look at three major causes for these sky-high LBP rates:
1. Are You Sitting Down?
Brits walk less than any nation in Europe. A recent study in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise found that the average American takes just 5,117 steps a day—half of what’s recommended for good health!
How does walking less and sitting more hurt your back? It causes tight hip flexors (psoas major muscles) and extra pressure on intervertebral discs. Compression and misalignment are the initial triggers of LBP.
Let’s look at an example: A 60kg woman puts 25kg of pressure on her spine when walking and 50-60kg when standing. If that same woman sits down, the pressure on her spine increases to 80kg—if she has perfect posture! If she is slouched over a computer, like most of us are right now, the pressure on her spine increases up to 180kg!
So what happens when we’re sitting in a car? That pressure is even greater due to the vibration of the vehicle.
2. On a Fast-Food Track to Pain
Our country has buried itself in high-fat, pre-packaged, fast food. So it is no surprise that one-third of the population is obese. It is also no surprise that the American Journal of Epidemiology found that being overweight or obese increases the risk of LBP. Clearly, extra weight causes increased pressure on the spine.
However, you may be surprised to learn about another cause for back pain in overweight and obese people. Bombarding our bodies with trans fats and high fructose corn syrups stresses the liver. An overstressed liver fuels an autonomic-visceral response that sends referred pain to the back.
3. The Stress and Gut Connection
Many experts believe that stress is at the root of most LBP. In fact, buried emotional stress can trigger tension in the body and deprive nerves and muscles of oxygen (hypoxia) thereby creating back pain.
Stress is also one of the biggest causes of gastrointestinal problems. Under stress, our bodies activate “fight or flight” hormones. These hormones redirect the blood away from the digestive system. Most people who experience pain and chronic tightness in their left quadratus lumborum (QL) could simply be experiencing referred pain from the colon. Gluten and dairy are other common triggers of this response.
It’s no coincidence that back pain and gastrointestinal (GI) disease are both on the rise in the UK. GI diseases affect 60 to 70 million Americans each year. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is the most common GI disorder affecting up to 23 percent of Americans, with Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD), such as Crohn’s and Colitis, also causing significant problems.
Sadly, “back experts” focus on the biomechanical reasons for LBP and disregard these bigger lifestyle issues. If you want to truly fix your back, you need to “surround the dragon” and attack the real offenders.
So what can you do TODAY? Get up, get moving, and pass on the junk food. Choose foods that make your gut feel good—your back will thank you.
(c) Strength Sensei