Because Father's Day is coming up, this article is for the new dad, the seasoned dad, and the dad who doesn’t get enough love; because let’s face it, most of the attention goes to mom. So I am writing this for us, man to man.
We know all too well at Rehab and Revive that a dad in pain is a grumpy and impatient one. So let’s avoid taking it out on our loved ones. Chronic pain just zaps your capacity and love storage.
In this article, we will explore the 5 Best Ways To Keep Your Back Healthy. We want all dads to feel happy and healthy so that you are your best self for your kids. How does that sound?
So from now and through Father’s Day, Rehab and Revive’s attention will be dedicated to you. We will drop a simple posture change, a quick tip, a new lifting habit, an easy exercise and a straightforward stretch in a couple of segments to get you back to being the super dad we know you are!
The number one thing the dads at Rehab and Revive complain about is their lower back. But if you think your back is the only thing that could give out, you might be mistaken. Here’s the downside to waiting too long to take care of your back and/or neglecting preventative measures to take care of the longevity of an otherwise fragile spine.
Many conditions and injuries have been linked to your back giving out or the degenerative process. Degenerative disc disease, osteophytes/bone spurs, decreased disc height, herniated disc, sciatica, and numbness and tingling in your leg are just a few conditions that are directly, or indirectly, affected by lower back pain. These can lead to other conditions such as runner’s knee, patellar tendonitis/tendonosis, hip pain, plantar fasciitis, as well as Achilles tendonitis/tendonosis.
So how about we avoid this altogether and avert chronic low back pain now?! You can look forward to an active future with your kids and preserve YOU long enough for your grandkids!
Here are the 5 steps to a happier low back for all of you dads out there. Jump to each section if you want to learn more. I’ll explain the benefits and why it is important to you in your quest to be a healthy, happy dad.
Simple Posture Change
New Lifting Habit
Be sure to stay tuned because there might be one more special treat we have in store for you
Oh, one more thing to mention, these strategies and tips are used in my clinic and are our patient’s favorites. The purpose is for both prevention and rehabilitation.
1. No more slouching! Improving posture with a simple fix
Who wants to look like they have a pot belly and forward slump shoulders? We know good standing or sitting posture manifests confidence and I’m sure you feel more confident after making this change too. Your partner will notice for sure.
Setting our shoulder blades on top of the rib cage becomes an effective shelf for a load.
This simple strategy can be used to avoid shoulder and neck pain and contributes to properly loading the spine. It can even help to ease/alleviate lower back pain as well as avoid it altogether. It is a great tip for an effective standing posture, lifting posture, and sitting posture.
Imagine forward shoulders that end up pulling on neck muscles that then force us to hinge forward. This means that loading the spine with a 10lb baby can increase the load on your spine up to 200lbs.
So now, imagine the forward shoulders pulling you forward along with this load. It’s a bad-bad combo and a future of being hunched over may come sooner than you might have desired.
To better visualize this phenomenon, think of holding a pail of water with outstretched arms in front of you versus holding it close to you against your chest with your arms crossed. Which one seems like it needs less effort?
I hope you chose the one that is closest to your body. This goes back to physics and levers, (believe me, if you want to learn more, it’s a bunch of long mathematical equations my Father-in-Law with a PhD in Physics can tickle you with on another day). Just trust me on this.
We will be correcting the spine in the next section and it may feel a bit better after you get that piece of information. But here is a diagram in an article I like to better illustrate posture.
2. What are the 4 dots? Here’s a quick tip
Sitting can load our spines and gravity can be a B!#@$ on our backs. With all this compression, loading our spine right can give us some insurance to a longer lasting back. Ideally, we are stacking the body one segment on top of the other.
The “4 dots” is a suitable alignment to keep in mind. It lines up the base of support over the center of gravity. We can call this the anterior plumb line. Please see the posture section above to adjust the shoulders in conjunction with this tip.
3. Lift your puppy, baby, toddler, or sweetheart the right way
Executing the proper lift of your kids isn’t as improbable as it seems. 3-2-1 ready for lift off!
Staggering your stance increases your base of support and your center of gravity can sit right in the middle of a wide base. There is a mechanical advantage with a wide base which sets you up to use your legs easier.
Hinging through your hips avoids the fold around the lower back. The more frequent bending at the lower back can set you up for the list of problems earlier in the article that are associated. See above.
Hips are made to fold on the pelvis’ sturdy base, not so much the lower back. Pelvic girdles can handle more compressive and rotational loads.
4. Dig with your hamstrings with this easy exercise
Let’s get the hips to set under the pelvis. The pelvis is like a giant food tray.
You are working your hamstrings to pull the hips underneath your pelvic girdle and set the hip bones on the correct axis. As mentioned in the lifting section, we need the hips to hinge and the hamstrings are key components to a foundation for good joint rotation.
How to set it up: Dig your heels with toes pointed up. Imagine as if you are sitting on a beach chair at the beach and trying to slice into the sand with your heels, creating a trench. But remember, don’t use those quadriceps. We are in a quadriceps dominant world already. Hamstrings only!!! Watch our video here!
5. Cat and Camel/Arch and Sag: whatever you choose to call it, here’s a straightforward stretch for you!
Gaining segment by segment mobility of the spine will yield the most tensile strength to bend and not break. Each spinal joint in most cases is made of a disc and bony vertebrae. When injured, you only have a short time span. “Movement is medicine,” as we say, a healthy spine is contingent to healthy safe movements where the joints and muscles are used appropriately to perform efficient movements.
There may be an off-chance we have bad habits (see the staggered stand hinge) and we risk creating all the symptoms. Let’s avoid all those symptoms and conditions mentioned earlier. This stretch helped me personally heal from my two lumbar herniated discs. Can we say LIFE SAVER!!! Actually, for me, it was also a career saver. This stretch may save you in more ways than one.
BONUS CONTENT: Back Sleeping
Sleep is King, so it is important to learn to sleep like a king. Sleep on your back to protect your back. It’s that simple.
Many dads come in and mention to us that they have a laundry list of symptoms which include stiffness, tightness, throbbing pain, or pain that wakes them up at night. We’ve heard it all! Getting in and out of bed can be tough and you may feel like you’re 100 years old in the morning.
Sleep can truly be the fountain of youth. So here’s how to set it up the proper posture for sleeping! Watch this video.
Remember if you start on this vicious pain cycle or are currently living with chronic lower back pain, you can rehab and revive yourself and come back from it.
Let us know how you are doing! Please pass this along to soon-to-be dads, new dads, or any dad you might know that could use some love! We at Rehab and Revive all hope you enjoy your Father’s Day.
Dads, Heal Smarter, Not Harder!
Dr. Justin Lin and the Rehab and Revive Staff
P.S. A big shoutout to my own dad! Thank you for being our family's rock and for all your years of support. Happy Father's Day!