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Jo Trizila
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Back pain is the second most common reason for a visit to the doctor’s office, outnumbered only by upper-respiratory infections, and it’s a top reason for missing work, according to the American Chiropractic Association. Fortunately, most people can reduce back pain by following a few simple guidelines, say the doctors of Lumin SpineCARE in Irving, Texas.

“One of the first steps to improve your back and neck health is to practice proper body mechanics,” says Dr. Douglas Won, founder and director of Lumin SpineCARE. “For example, when people slouch, it not only gives them bad posture, but it can also cause pain. If you’re sitting or standing for a prolonged period of time, try keeping your back straight and your shoulders back and dropped. In addition, if you’re spending several hours sitting at a chair or desk, get up at least once an hour to stretch.”

Dr. Won also suggests pushing heavy objects across the floor instead of pulling or lifting them, stretching before exercising or other strenuous activities, not twisting the back or neck when lifting or pushing things, and avoiding carrying heavy objects on one side of the body, like purses or lap top cases.

Another great way to improve back health is to establish a regular exercise routine, says

Dr. Samantha Traylor, a chiropractor and acupuncturist with Lumin SpineCARE. Dr. Traylor says exercising strengthens bones and muscles and helps increase oxygen and blood flow to vital organs, which can aid in the healing process.

“Exercising is an important first step for anyone who wants to improve and maintain good back and neck health, but it’s really easy to overdo it, especially in the beginning,” notes Dr. Traylor. “When in doubt about where to start or how much is too much, ask a healthcare provider or personal trainer. Also, consider asking a friend to join in – it’s a great motivator and more fun than working out alone.”

Start small with light weight lifting and cardiovascular exercise and gradually increase the program. The key is to focus on the extensor muscles, the muscles that hold the body up right.

“Not only can exercise help eliminate future back and neck pain, but it can also help reduce your symptoms if you’re already suffering,” states Dr. Traylor. “Every patient is unique, so not all exercises will have the same effect for everyone, but there are exercises that I recommend often, such as the Towel Exercise.”

People’s necks are designed to have a curve that faces forward like the letter “C,” explains Dr. Traylor. However, as a society today, most people have a straight curve or a reversing curve. This can be very harmful and painful to the spine and spinal cord.

“The Towel Exercise is designed to help get the curve back to the normal ‘C’ shape. First, roll up a bathroom hand towel so that it’s round and about six to seven inches thick. Then lie flat on your back with your knees bent, and stick the rolled up towel under your neck. Stay in this position for 15 minutes a day. Don’t fall asleep on it or use it longer than 15 minutes a day – or it could cause pain. If the hand towel is too thick for you or it’s extremely uncomfortable, then you can use a wash cloth to start with and move up to a hand towel,” says Dr. Traylor.

She warns that exercises like this may cause some soreness in the beginning. “If you haven’t worked out your neck muscles in a while, expect some soreness. This is a good thing – it means the muscles are working. If you have a lot of soreness, apply heat to the affected area for 20 minutes on and then an hour-and-a-half off. If it persists or you experience intense pain, stop the exercise and contact your doctor.”

Lumin SpineCARE™ is a nationally acclaimed, comprehensive spine center dedicated to providing the most effective answers to back and neck problems. An affiliate of Lumin Health™ in Irving, Texas, Lumin SpineCARE has 10 locations throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The practice is associated with Star Medical Center, a specialty surgical hospital; LuminCARE™, primary care in an urgent care setting; and specialty outpatient clinics Lumin OrthoCARE™ and Lumin PainCARE™. For more information, call 1-888-600-6474 or 972-255-5588 or visit www.spinecaredfw.com.

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