Category Archives: Stretches and Exercises

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Don’t Put Yourself Out: Fall Prevention Tips to Avoid Back Injury

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If you’ve ever been so unlucky to experience back pain, or even worse, throw out your back, you know that recovery time can take days or even weeks.

Lower back pain is often due to injury or trauma to the ligaments and muscles from to quick movements, poor lifting techniques, or falls. Falls are extremely dangerous at any age – but especially for older adults who are more prone to osteoporosis and likely to break a bone.

Falls can happen for a number of reasons, but the most common are tripping or slipping, balance problems, poor vision, illness, side effects of certain medications like blood pressure and heart medications, and drinking alcohol.

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Prevention is Key

And there are a number of ways to help avoid slips and falls that everyone should put into practice, regardless of age.

When outdoors, wear shoes that provide good traction; high heels and flip-flops are more prone to making you slip and fall. Walk on grass when sidewalks appear icy or slick and put down salt or sand on icy steps and walkways. Indoors, you can help prevent falls by keeping items off floors, electrical cords out of walkways, and using rugs that have skid-proof back. Other fall-prevention tactics at home include using non-skid bath mats in the tub or shower, making sure all stairwells are lit properly and have hand railings on both sides, and purchasing a cordless phone so that you don’t have to rush to the phone when it rings in the other room.

Another key element to help reduce falls and injury is physical activity. Gentle exercises like water aerobics, yoga, walking, and Pilates help improve balance, core strength, coordination, and flexibility – all great health benefits that reduce the risk of falling. If you’re afraid that exercising might worsen your chances for a fall-related injury, speak with a doctor who can provide advice on low-risk activities. Dr. Grigory Goldberg and his team of experts at Spine Care New Jersey are available to provide suggestions and help you feel more comfortable about what you can do to reduce your risk for falls.

If you’ve recently fallen and have started to experience back pain, we encourage you to request an appointment with our spine care specialists.


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Stretch Your Way to a Healthier Back and Spine

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Back pain can be hard to deal with and can also slow you down. It can start for a number of reasons: old injuries, straining the muscles, arthritis, and more. The good news is, there are quick and easy stretches you can do in 10-15 minutes each day that can promote a healthier and more comfortable back and spine.

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Back pain is more common in the morning hours, so doing these stretches upon waking might help start your day a little more pain-free. Keep in mind that some patients find that it takes a few months of continued stretching to start seeing improvements. So stay consistent and don’t get discouraged if you don’t see the results you want right away.

Knee to Chest

Lying on your back, bend both knees and place your heels on the floor. Place both hands behind one knee and slowly bring your knee towards your chest. Alternate legs, holding each for 15 – 30 seconds.

Side Roll

Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. With your shoulders on the floor, roll both bent knees to one side of your body and hold for ten seconds. Return to the starting position and repeat the stretch on the opposite side. Repeat three to four times.

Back Arch

Position yourself on the floor on your hands and knees. Slowly relax your back muscles, letting your back and abdomen sink towards the floor, then slowly arch your back up, pulling your abdomen away from the floor. Repeat four to five times.

If pain continues or you’ve started experiencing worsening symptoms, we encourage you to request an appointment with our Spine Care NJ specialists.


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Road Trip Ready: Tips to Stave Off Back Pain on Long Drives

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Packing up and hitting the highway for a spontaneous summer adventure is pretty much living the dream. But if you suffer from moderate to severe back pain, hours upon hours in a car can sound more like a nightmare. Fortunately, there are ways to help prevent and reduce road-induced aches. Try these tips on your next excursions.

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Pack Smart

 Hauling heavy bags to the trunk can throw out your back before you even start the trip! Plus, too much luggage in the cab can limit your seating options down the road. Try to pack light and use all your available trunk space, and don’t forget to get help lifting anything you feel iffy about.

Bring a Driving Buddy–Or Two!

It’s best to take turns driving on long trips. The more capable drivers, the merrier! Switching off gives you a chance to relax, and alleviates the additional stresses that come with driving.

Use a Lumbar Pillow (or other device)

Find a cushion that works for you. These guys have some great tips for how they make their vehicles more comfortable.

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While driving, start by being conscious of your breathing. Fast, shallow breathing can lead to increased tension. Controlling your breathing may help you better relax your body. Some simple stretches you can do while driving include shoulder rolls (alternate slowly “shrugging” each should toward the steering wheel) tailbone tucks (“tuck” your tailbone down, arch your back, then curl back forward) and stop light twists (at stoplights, twist back and forth in your seat, leading with your shoulders). At rest stops, try side stretches for quick relief, or any of these for a more in-depth session. Want to learn from the long-haul masters? Check out this simple illustrated guide for professional truck drivers.

Ice and Heat Therapy

Alternating ice and heat therapy may be an effective way to ease back pain. Try packing some ice packs in a cooler, and investing in a heat pack that can be plugged into a cigarette lighter, like this one from Target.

Don’t Delay Comfort

Make sure you feel comfortable the moment you sit down. As seasoned travellers know, small annoyances can balloon into full on agony all too quickly. Take time to get fully situated–adjust the seat pitch, position your lumbar pillow, heat pad or other devices, and check your mirrors to insure you won’t need to strain to see them.

Distraction

Obviously, don’t distract yourself from driving! A good podcast, radio station, book on tape, or conversation can be a great way to have fun, learn something, and keep your mind off pain or fear of pain. Games like I Spy, Fortunately/Unfortunately, and Would You Rather are throw-back fun (and a great way to get to know your fellow roadtrippers!).


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Three Spine-Saving Exercises and Stretches You Can Do In The Water

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Need a good excuse to head to your local pool? Do it for your back. Exercising or stretching in water is a great way to get the benefits of physical therapy while minimizing the weight put on your spine, thus reducing your risk of injury. Here are some exercises to try:

*Please note that we do recommend consulting your therapist or physician for a more tailored regimen specific to your needs, and to confirm that any exercises listed are safe given your condition and overall health.

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Knee to Chest: With your back against the pool wall, gently raise your knee to your chest, hold, and repeat.

Sit and Swing: “Sit” With your back facing the corner of the pool and your arms on the edge or ledge supporting your weight. Bend your knees, and use your hips and lower back to rotate slowly from side to side. Check out the first fifteen seconds of this video for a good example.

Water Walking or Side Stepping: Walking in hip to waist deep water is a great way to strengthen muscles that take pressure off your spine. Need extra support? Try side stepping: facing the wall, walk sideways along it, as shown.

Prone Floating: The ultimate sun bather’s spine exercise. Simply lay prone on your stomach, with swim noodles supporting your arms, neck, face and feet.

Aqua Aerobics Routine: Aqua aerobics is a great, low impact way to get a quality workout. A typical routine may cover many of the moves described above. It also will help you build muscles in your core and legs to help provide better support for your back, which in turn may reduce your risk of injury. Look for classes in your area, or check out this video series for some beginners lessons.


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