Rapids Heath Tips: Kicking Lower Back Pain

Rapids Health Tips (By the Colorado Physical Therapy Institute)

This issue's topic: Kicking Low Back Pain

Most everyone will experience low back pain at some time in their life. Nearly 80% of Americans will have an episode of severe back pain that will limit their activities or ability to work.

Pain pills may help temporarily however when used for a long time they are hard on your intestines liver and kidneys. Every year in the United States 10000-20000 deaths are related to self induced bleeding ulcers from excess use of over the counter pain medications. Pain medications often only control the symptoms not the causes of back pain. Stop taking the medication and often the pain returns…you really have not made any progress in fixing the problem.

Even if you have chronic back pain or you have suffered through several spine surgeries you can often reduce your pain and improve your function with the correct treatments. New treatments are being developed all the time that are helping people to enjoy their life again.

Get active to get your back in shape and enjoy a less painful life!

• Improving general fitness and losing some weight can take pressure off your spine. Go for a walk drink more water and eat healthier.

• Improving the movement of your mid-back (thoracic spine) and rib cage can reduce the amount of shearing and torque that occurs in the neck and low back. Excessive and prolonged "hinging" in the low back wears it out quicker (just like bending an aluminum pole back and forth until it snaps). A Physical Therapist teach you how to use a "foam roller" (~$18) for effective stretching at home.

• Try to use proper lifting techniques whenever possible. If you sit at work for more than 2 hours a day make an investment for your back with a quality chair. (~$300+). Ask your company to offer an ergonomics class to help everyone.

• Stretch the muscles in you legs without allowing the low back to bend. Tight leg muscles can increase the pull on the spine and nerves.

• Control your "core" by learning stability exercises for your trunk and stomach muscles. Buy a BURST resistant "Gym Ball" (~$18) and do your core stability exercises 10 minutes three days a week. Get involved in Pilates exercises to improve your trunk control flexibility and breathing techniques. Practice these techniques when you walk lift anything and even when sitting or driving.

• Relax and learn more about stress management techniques. Stress adds to tight muscles increasing pain and general body inflammation. Consider using diaphragmatic (belly breathing) and meditation. A few minutes can reduce stress.

• Find an experienced manual "Hands-on" physical therapist that can evaluate your needs and guide you in a safe and effective program of recovery.

• The ATM 2 treatments for spine problems very often result in immediate improvement in pain and flexibility. This technique to treat back problems was developed in Australia and soon will be part of all progressive spine rehabilitation clinics in the USA. Learn more at

Once you learn how to reduce the causes for your back pain it won’t take much time to keep yourself feeling better and enjoying life more. Get active and Stay in the Game!

Article written by Roger C. Rettig MSPT ATC MNSMT CCM CIE and Director of the Colorado Physical Therapy Institute in Broomfield since 1987. CPTI Specializes in Orthopaedic & Sports Rehabilitation and is the Official Physical Therapy Clinic of the Colorado Rapids Major League Soccer Team. If you have questions please contact CPTI at 303.460.9129 or Views opinions and medical reccomendations expressed in this column are the author's and not necessarily those of the Colorado Rapids or