10 Fast Facts about Middle Back Pain

You spent several hours today at the office moving some heavy boxes of client files, a process that required a lot of bending and twisting.  The middle portion of your back, injured a few years ago in an automobile accident, is now paying the price.  It seems tight, stiff and achy, and you can even feel a slight burning sensation when you twist to the left or to the right.  Something has to be done for your middle back pain issues, as it’s already cost you time off from your job, at which you typically sit for hours every day while tasking away at your desk.

6 Squat Variations for Injury Prevention

Squats are not an exercise you want to skip. They target many of the major muscles used in running, such as the quadriceps, gluteus maximus, hamstrings, and core. Strengthening these major muscle groups may prevent injury by supporting and stabilizing the joints around them. The squat, in particular, focuses on the knee and hip joints, two of the major joints involved in running.

There are a variety of different squat exercises that may contribute to injury prevention. Further, mixing it up can prevent plateaus from occurring and challenge your muscles in a whole different way. The following outlines 6 squat variations, starting with the basics, for you to mix up your leg routine starting today.

A Beginner’s Guide to Preventing and Correcting Forward Head Posture

Another busy workday at the office is drawing to a close.  You’ve spent the past 3 hours hunched over in front of your desk, leaning in and squinting intently at figures on your computer screen.  As you get up from your chair, a sharp pain radiates from the base of your skull, down through your neck, and on into your arms.  Your left hand feels a bit numb and as you stand up you notice a dull ache and tightness in your neck muscles.  Now that you’ve disengaged your gaze from the computer screen, you realize that a headache has come on; something that you’ve dealt with more frequently nowadays.

5 Essential Strength Training Exercises for Proper Running Form

Strength training is an important aspect to include in your regular workout routine. As a runner, many believe the more running the better. However, regular strength training is significant in injury prevention. Balance is key. Strengthening the muscles involved in running can support joints prone to injury from overuse. Incorporating 2-3 strengthening days a week to coincide with 2-3 running days is an effective and efficient way to improve your running form and reduce the risk of injury.

A Complete Guide to Fixing Your Posture

During a typical work day, for example, if your job is in an office setting and you spend countless hours seated while squinting at a computer screen, most of us unknowingly experience poor posture.  What exactly does that look like?  Well, incorrect posture manifests when we slouch, with our chin pointed down, shoulders and upper back rounded forward, and our spines scrunched.  As a result, there are many undesirable physical, social and even emotional outcomes that can result from using poor posture.

3 Injuries That Could Be Causing Your Hip Flexor Pain

Hip flexor pain is often an injury that is hard to ignore. Our hip flexors, which lie at the front of the hip, are used in just about every movement that involves the lower half of the body. When you have hip flexor pain you feel it anytime you bend, kick, sit, run, or change directions while moving.

Typically, there are three types of injuries which result in pain to this area of the body: overuse injuries, muscle tears, and direct hits. If you are feeling hip flexor pain, consider the likelihood that one of these reasons may be the cause.

How To Integrate Cross-Training Into Your Running Workouts

You’ve likely heard about the importance of cross-training. Greater speed, improved endurance, and reduced risk of injury are some of the frequently-touted benefits of adding cross-training into your running workouts.

But it can be overwhelming to decide which cross-training activity to add to your existing running workouts. Then there’s the time factor – between running, work, family, and friends, it can be a challenge to do it all.

Fortunately, there are a few forms of cross-training that provide maximum results with minimal time. The following activities, when strategically added to existing running workouts, will help you get stronger, improve your speed, and reduce your risk of getting injured.

10 Fast Facts about Lower Back Pain

The human back is an amazing structure, designed to support our spines in a natural, upright position.  When we put undue stress upon its muscles, especially in the lower back area, pain eventually will manifest as a warning signal that our body is injured.  For example, when you sit, or more typically slouch, for countless hours in front of your work desk, day in and day out, bad physical outcomes will probably result, including lower back pain.  Additionally, a traumatic spinal injury in your past, such as a serious car accident, predisposes you to be more vulnerable to lower back pain, while placing you at a higher risk to suffer from its effects.

Every year in this country, 31 million of us suffer from the nagging symptoms of lower back pain and, eventually, it will impact over 80% of our population.  Underlying conditions, many of them due to aging, also exacerbate the impact of low back pain, with one example being osteoarthritis, a very common malady.  But the good news is that there are many ways to help alleviate the discomfort of low back pain, while further reducing the probability itself that another flare-up will occur.

Having made that point, now we are now going to investigate 10 quick facts about lower back pain, and how you, as a sufferer, can help reduce your odds that it will strike again, while also arming you with the necessary tools to relieve the severity when it does present.

1.) Underlying Conditions Precipitate Lower Back Pain Issues

10 Fast Facts about Lower Back Pain

10 Fast Facts about Lower Back Pain

Several medical conditions, according to WebMD, may act as causal factors, while inducing periodic lower back pain occurrences.  WebMD points out that if you have been diagnosed with, or experienced, one or more of these issues you have a higher risk for lower back pain itself:

  • A herniated disc in your spine
  • Osteoarthritis
  • A traumatic spinal injury such as a car accident or fall
  • Back surgery in the past
  • Certain viral or bacterial infections
  • Feeling stressed out

Bottom line: If you have been diagnosed with, or exposed to, any of these predictive influences for developing lower back pain, be advised that you should consider preventative measures against back pain; ones that will be covered as this article continues.

2. ) Poor Lifestyle Choices Feed Lower Back Pain

As is the case with any other chronic condition we humans deal with, certain lifestyle choices can have a positive, or negative, effect on the severity and longevity of that specific medical problem.  Lower back pain is no exception, and experts in this field have determined that a number of lifestyle choices can exacerbate the onset and severity of lower back pain flare-ups.  Those include:

  • Smoking tobacco
  • Not exercising routinely
  • Drinking alcohol to excess
  • Eating a poor diet
  • Being exposed to a high level of stress
10 Fast Facts about Lower Back Pain

10 Fast Facts about Lower Back Pain

None of the above are really a surprise, but they are important when it comes to combat lower back pain if your goal is to reduce the recurrences and symptomatic severity when it does strike.  And, who doesn’t want that?

3.) Getting a Good Night’s Sleep Helps Put Lower Back Pain to Rest

 Our bodies and minds run much more effectively when we get 7 to 8 hours of shut eye per night.  As we sleep, damaged areas of our bodies undergo natural repair activities, and lower back pain is no exception.  While asleep, we also aren’t cognitive of stress in our lives, are more relaxed as a result, which further leads to a relieving of tightness in our back and neck muscles.

6 Commonly Overlooked Remedies for Back Pain

10 Fast Facts about Lower Back Pain

Tight muscles may precipitate weakened and damaged tissues, one of the factors that can aggravate back pain problems.  In addition, while lying down we typically stretch out our back’s 120 different muscles, something that doesn’t occur when we are scrunched down for 8 or more hours in a chair.  What’s the secret to a better night’s sleep?  A good, firm mattress and a dark, quiet sleeping environment combine to make a big difference.

4.) Strong Core Muscles Build a Better Case Against Lower Back Pain

Your body’s core muscle groups are found in your trunk and spine regions.  When they are weak, the result is less support to your spine, one of the causative factors for lower back pain. A wide-variety of core muscle strengthening exercises are available, including things like:

  • Swimming and other forms of aqua therapy
  • Light weight-lifting training
  • Pilates
  • Planking, full-body rollups and pelvic tilts
A Beginner's Guide to Sleeping with Lower Back Pain

10 Fast Facts about Lower Back Pain

The key to relieving low back issues with these forms of exercise are actually doing them, and on a regular basis to ensure a continued level of improved core muscle strength.  As a rule, by building up your core body muscles, your back will thank you in the end!

5.) Walk Your Way to a Healthier Lower Back 

Walking is one of the easiest and least-damaging, to joints and bones, forms of exercise out there.  Taking a nice, long 2 to 3 mile walk at least 3X per week leads to a healthier and happier back.  Walking has been found to reduce stress, which can tighten susceptible muscles tissues, and it also gently stretches out muscle fibers, relieving pressure and encouraging healing.  And finally, walking also has been scientifically proven to stimulate better oxygen and blood flow to injured muscles, which exacerbate the repair process.  All in all, walking is a simple, relaxing and inexpensive method of reducing back pain problems!

10 Fast Facts about Lower Back Pain

10 Fast Facts about Lower Back Pain

6.) A Good Stretch Per Day Helps Keep the (Back) Doctor Away

Another easy way to live more back pain-free is by stretching, and doing so at least daily.  Even when you are cooped up in an office, for example, take some time during your work breaks to employ some simple back pressure-relieving stretches.  Stretching has also been linked to reduced back pain via its likelihood in improving your flexibility and mobility, along with strengthening back muscle tissues in general.  Want to keep the back doctor away?  Take a few minutes before, during and after work to also “work in” some quality stretching time.  You’ll be glad you did!

10 Fast Facts about Lower Back Pain

10 Fast Facts about Lower Back Pain

7.) Feeding Your Back Well Lowers Your Pain Probability

It’s common sense that the better our diets, the healthier our bodies will be, and your back is not excluded from this rule.  Nutritional studies have found that there are several critical vitamins, most of which our normal daily intakes are deficient in, that enhance your body’s ability to repair damaged lower back muscles.  These encompass the following:

  • Vitamin B12: Used to improve overall spine health, along with nerve repair and blood cell production
  • Vitamin A: Assists your body with injured muscle repairs
  • Vitamin C: Helps strengthen bodily tissues, including in your lower back, while promoting new collagen formation, which is then used to build new tissues
10 Fast Facts about Lower Back Pain

10 Fast Facts about Lower Back Pain

There’s an old adage that “you are what you eat”, and for most people in today’s world, on-the- go while grabbing fast food when they can, the prognosis for faster lower back pain relief does not look good.  It’s “garbage in, garbage out”, as the old saying goes.  Feed your body nutritious foods that it truly wants, filled with the vitamins listed above, and it will reward you with a healthier back, among other things.

9.) Stress Out Your Back Muscles and They Will Stress You Back

As was mentioned above, stress is one of the accentuating factors for an increased level of lower back pain.   Stress causes the afflicted muscles to tense up, further damaging already injured tissues, while also interfering with the healing process itself.

To overcome your mental and physical stress, there are so many methodologies out there to relieve the pressure it brings, such as:

  • Walking for 20 or more minutes, at least 3X per week
  • Participating in yoga and other meditative forms of relaxation
  • Swimming as water has a natural soothing effect on our bodies
  • Finding a job that is less-stressful
10 Fast Facts about Lower Back Pain

10 Fast Facts about Lower Back Pain

Now the last recommendation may be a difficult one to do for most of us, especially if we’ve landed a good employment opportunity.  However, the other three certainly are doable, and there’s really no excuse to not implement them, as you travel down-the-road to a more lower back pain-free life!

9.) Let Your Body be Your Guide While Relieving Lower Back Pain  

The human body is comprised of about 70% water.  So, doesn’t it make sense that our bodies crave that liquid and therefore that it might be a good therapy to employ when addressing lower back pain problems?    Various forms of aqua therapy exist, including swimming or aerobic water classes.  The main benefit that exercising in water has when you are in the middle of a lower back pain flare-up is that it supports your weight by overcoming gravity.

When that happens, pressure is naturally diverted away from your tense and inflamed muscle tissues, allowing your body to much more effectively repair damaged areas.  Water’s viscosity and buoyancy further increase your body’s overall flexibility and range-of-motion.  And, the resistance offered by water’s mass gently produces a medium in which swimming or other forms of bodily exercise facilitate building and strengthening core muscle groups, another positive.

10 Fast Facts about Lower Back Pain

10 Fast Facts about Lower Back Pain

At the end of the day, listen to your body’s inherent instincts, and it will probably lead you to water.

10.) Improved Posture Promotes Positive Back Health

We humans are creatures of habit, and one of the worst habits we have, as it relates to lower back pain, is using bad posture.  Look around at work someday, and you’ll notice co-workers hunched down in their seats, shoulders rounded, as they are slouched down in front of their work stations.  Correcting poor posture is probably the easiest way to ward off lower back pain manifestations, while speeding up healing rates.

10 Fast Facts about Lower Back Pain

10 Fast Facts about Lower Back Pain

Back pain studies have determined that using positive posture, even at night, with your shoulders back, chin up and chest out, promotes a plethora of beneficial outcomes for injured back tissues.  These are:

  • Stimulates the release of natural pain killers including serotonin and endorphins
  • Allows for a more efficient intake of oxygen and enhanced blood flow
  • Makes you feel more self-assured, while projecting the impression to others of being more successful and confident
  • Relieves pressure to afflicted and vulnerable back muscle regions
  • Provides your body with more energy and vigor
  • And many more beneficial outcomes!

In a nutshell, utilizing good posture throughout the day, whether sitting down or standing, goes a long way in protecting your lower back from pain reoccurrences, while also reducing the severity of flare-ups if they happen.  Remember to keep your chin up, shoulders back and chest out.

Lumo Lift’s Posture Coach will Keep You Focused

We get so caught up in our busy lives sometimes that it simply isn’t possible to exercise or diet properly.  Referring to our list above, it was pointed out that probably the least labor and time intensive method available in the battle against lower back pain is employing proper posture all day (and night) long.  At Lumo Bodytech, we’ve developed an amazing and simple-to-use, high-tech device that reminds you when your posture is incorrect.

Called the Lumo Lift Posture Coach, it consists of a wearable sensor, about the size of a lapel pin, that continuously and discretely records your body posture information, stores the data, and then allows you to access your body’s statistics via a downloadable app for all iOS and Android devices.  In addition, whenever your posture is poor, like when slouching occurs, the Posture Coach will alert you with a gentle vibration.

In the end, the Lumo Lift Posture Coach works just like having your own, inexpensive personal trainer with you everywhere you go!  It’s an encouraging and effective, posture-correcting resource as we strive at Lumo Bodytech to make the world a more back healthy place, one person at a time!  For more information on the Lumo Lift Posture Coach, or on lower back pain in general, visit: www.lumolift.com

Start your positive habit change today with Lumo Lift

Lumo Lift is a small lightweight wearable that tracks and coaches you on your posture, as well as tracks daily activity, such as steps taken, distance traveled and calories burned. Compatible with iOS/iPhone and select Android devices. Free shipping, 30-day money back guarantee and 1 year limited warranty.

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What Is Your Body Language Communicating?

As humans, we tend to spend a lot of our time thinking about the things we say — especially in and around the office. Of course, it’s important to think carefully before speaking, but that’s actually only half the battle when it comes to communication. In fact, some expert believe only about 7% of all communication is verbal, and the rest of the 93% is communicated through non-verbal cues like body language. That’s a huge percentage of communication that we’re not paying much attention to.

Non-verbal communication includes things like facial expression, gestures, tone of voice, eye-contact, body positioning, and posture. As social beings, we subconsciously pick up on these subtle cues to inform our impressions of a person’s characteristics, personality, state of mind, and much more.

What Your Body Language is Saying About You

Take a look at the two photos below. Just a quick glance at the two people in the photos and we can immediately tell that the person on the left demonstrates confidence, whereas in the right, she likely feels insecure and unsure.

upright posture, confident body language      slouching posture, insecure body language

Using only body language as a cue, you were able to make a snap judgement — fairly confidently, too — about the mental state of these two people. Based on these two images, if you were asked to guess how you think each of these people would do presenting in front of a large audience, or in a leadership role, you’d probably guess that the person on the left demonstrating confidence is better suited for the job.

Assuming she is a qualified individuals, slouching puts her at a significant disadvantage compared to her adopting an upright, open posture.

This is obviously an extreme, hypothetical case and that’s not how decisions about presenters or promotions are made. However, there is something to be said about the advantage you can gain in taking extra care and attention in what your body is communicating to those around you.

Body Language on Your Own Psyche

Dr. Amy Cuddy, a social psychologist, delivered a fascinating TED Talk a few years ago on the importance of body language and how our posture influences not just the way others perceive us, but also our own thoughts and feelings. In her studies, Dr. Cuddy found that indulging in poor, slouched posture where you are closing yourself off from your surrounding and physically taking up less space perpetuates feelings of fear, stress, and anxiety, lowering performance in stressful situations. This creates a negative cycle where:

Insecure Thoughts → Closed-off Posture → More Insecure and Negative Thoughts

To break this cycle, Dr. Cuddy recommends adopting what she calls “power-poses”. Power-poses are a series of strong and confident postures that have the ability to influence two important hormone levels: testosterone and cortisol. She found that adopting these “power poses” increases testosterone levels to help you feel more assertive and decisive while lowering cortisol levels to reduce stress and anxiety. The combined effects of these two hormones provide an almost immediate boost in confidence and have been shown to improve performance in stressful situations, thereby introducing a positive cycle:

Intentional Power-Pose → Boost in Confidence and Mood → Continued Good Posture

The bonus to this cycle is that not only does being in good posture fosters positive thoughts and moods, it also communicates confidence and strength to the people around you, as we discussed in the first section of this article.

So, even if you are feeling shy, insecure, stressed, or uncomfortable, simply fixing your posture to be more upright and open can help you escape the negative cycle of emotions to enter a much more positive sequence.

Good Posture in Practice

By now, you know the importance of good posture and the positive influence it has on your own psyche as well as others perceptions. So how do we get into good posture, and more importantly, how do we stay in it?

Getting into Good Posture

To get into good posture, imagine your head is being pulled straight up by a string. Lift your chest slightly and draw in your abdominals. Keep your shoulders down and back, and your chin tucked in. You’re aiming for a strong, confident position! When sitting, scoot your hips to the back of your chair and avoid reclining against the seat-back. If you’re not sure you’re doing it right, here’s a more detailed instruction post on how to get into good posture.

Now, for the hard part: staying in good posture.

For many of us, getting into good posture isn’t too much of a challenge. The challenge arises as we try to maintain it throughout the day. In fact, our internal data study with 15,000 Lumo Lift users revealed that during the workday, people on average spend only 36% of their time in “good posture”. That amounts to 38 minutes of poor posture per hour, and 304 minutes, or about 5 hours, of slouching per a regular 8-hour workday.

The key to achieving better posture throughout the day is to train your mind and body to adopt better posture as a habit, rather than a conscious choice. To achieve this, there are three elements at that need consideration: anatomy, muscular endurance, and the correct neuromuscular patterns.

Anatomy: Physically getting into good posture.
Muscular Endurance: Developing and strengthening supporting muscles in your back and core to stay in good posture.
Neuromuscular Patterns: Communication between your brain and muscles to learn what good posture feels like., i.e., muscle memory.

At Lumo, we’ve taken this three-pronged secret sauce to improving your posture and created a device that helps you do just that: Lumo Lift. Lumo Lift is a small, wearable device that discreetly attaches magnetically to your shirt to monitor your posture all day long, and gently vibrates when you slouch to remind you to straighten up to strengthen correct neuromuscular patterns. The accompanying Lumo Lift app recommends various exercises and stretches to help you develop the necessary muscles to support your newly improved posture.

Here’s how Lumo Lift works:

 

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Communicate Confident, Strong Body Language with Lumo Lift

Lumo Lift is a small lightweight wearable that tracks and coaches you on your posture, as well as tracks daily activity, such as steps taken, distance traveled and calories burned. Compatible with iOS/iPhone, Windows desktop and select Android devices. Free shipping, 30-day money back guarantee and 1 year limited warranty.

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6 Resistance Band Exercises to Prevent Running Injuries

In the past few decades, running has gained speed as a popular cardio choice. Fun runs, such as foam runs, color runs, and mud runs, have made it accessible and inclusive to all. It is a great option for anyone just starting out or wanting to get back in shape. No gym equipment or membership required. All you need is a good pair of running shoes and workout clothes, and you are good to go.

However, running injuries can be discouraging, to say the least. Poor running form, muscle imbalances, or improper running shoes can all be factors contributing to an injury. Luckily, they are all completely in your control. Correct improper posture. Educate yourself and shop around for a pair of running shoes that are suited for your feet and gait. As for muscle imbalances, various resistance band exercises may reduce the risk of running injuries. The following exercises target major problem areas that may lead to injuries. By strengthening certain muscles, you may further become a more efficient and stronger runner. Always be sure to do a proper warm-up and cool down involving appropriate stretches before and after your run.

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