Summer Can be a Pain in the Back

Home landscaping projects, 3 rounds of golf in a weekend, being pulled around the lake on an inner tube by a crazy boat captain.

"Work hard/Play hard" is not only an expression for Type-A personalities and superheroes, it can also be a theme for summertime activities. We need to seize the fun in the sun!

Our long awaited outdoor adventure season in Minnesota has its pluses and minuses. Skin below the neck that hasn't seen the light of day in the longer side of six months needs to be protected. Muscles are quick to point out that expecting them to perform like finely tuned athletes after a season of hibernation is not a genius plan.

Our bodies remind us that "all choices have consequences". Our proactive choices about our health can be expressed by improved energy, flexibility, endurance and relaxation. Reactive behaviors resulting from poor preparation and/or being surprised by unexpected events can bring about inconveniences such as sunburn, muscle strain, heat exhaustion or even injury.

One of the biggest repercussions from "overdoing it" is lower back pain. Depending on the level of discomfort, it can not only limit easy or graceful movement, lower back pain can also affect us mentally, emotionally or even financially, depending on occupation.

Here are a few tips to keep your low back strong before you decide to play superhero(ine) this summer:

Stretch and warm up muscles prior to doing a strenuous or repetitive activity
Do core exercises such as yoga to increase flexibility, strength and endurance
Move. Walk around. Do your best not to sit in one place for longer than 90 minutes at a time
Use an exercise ball for stretching, releasing, abdominal strengthening, posture improvement
Get regular chiropractic adjustments for keeping spine aligned
Sleep with a pillow between your legs if feeling lower back strain - especially effective if pregnant
Use correct lifting techniques - with legs and hips, not back
Pay attention to posture whether working at a desk, eating dinner or lounging on the squishy couch while watching TV
Be sure your work space is set up ergonomically for your body including lumbar support if necessary
Use lifting braces for extra back support for heavy or repetitive lifting
Stay active in general with legs, back, stomach in to reduce chances of injury

Here are a few low back recovery tips to consider after your alter-ego may have been a bit overly zealous while saving the day:

Use ice or cold packs to reduce inflammation
Increase blood flow to promote healing with heat therapy
Sometimes hot/cold/hot/cold rotation can be helpful
Get back to the chiropractor to re-align what got messed up and loosen tight muscles
Limit spinal movement with back braces during healing
Anti-inflammatory essential oils can reduce inflammation in a non-toxic manner
Anti-inflammatory medications can reduce inflammation
Massage will increase blood flow, relax muscles and release endorphins to promote healing
When acute pain is over, consider back exercises to get back to normal and avoid another summer fun delay - check with health professional when time is right
While you're healing, get your cape repaired for your next adventure
You may decide to be a weekend warrior every now and then:you just don't have to let low back pain ruin your summer as a result.