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My lower back hurts, and I have a feeling yours might too. According to Spine-health.com (a web site providing back pain sufferers with helpful information written by medical professionals), over 30 million Americans experience lower back pain. This is one of the leading causes for doctor visits, and the site purports that “at least four out of five adults will experience low back pain at some point in their lives.”

Unfortunately, I’m part of that statistic. I strained my lower back muscles two or three years ago, and now I seem to re-injure them every few months. My last episode occurred only a couple weeks ago. Desperate to break the cycle of strains and soreness, I began researching lower back pain and its causes and cures. I learned that most strains and sprains result from improper lifting of heavy objects, awkward or twisting motions while lifting, falls, or sudden movements. As with any muscle injury, brief rest, pain medication, and applying heat and/or ice to the area may help.

While this was good information, I really sought preventive measures to protect my apparently weakened lower back against future strains. After surfing dozens of web sites bent on selling me the latest book, video, supplement, service, or contraption to cure whatever ails my aching back, I finally found the advice I wanted—something more natural and less gimmicky, more preventive and less “quick fix”.

Free Remedy

The all natural, at home, and completely free remedy I chose to focus on is simply good, old-fashioned exercise. According to Spine-health.com, “people who are active and well-conditioned are much less likely to suffer from low back pain due to muscle strain, as regular exercise stretches the muscles so they are less likely to strain, tear, or spasm.” The experts recommend a regular workout routine balanced in the following three components:

1. Aerobics - Aerobic exercise (both low and high impact) offers several important benefits. Avid exercisers typically experience fewer and milder episodes of back pain. Exercise burns calories and helps shed those extra pounds that weigh heavily on the spine and joints. It also increases the production of endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers and mood elevators.

2. Strength Training - Spine-health.com aptly compares a strong back to reinforced steel, while a weak back more resembles sheet aluminum. I think we all know which one can bear the most weight. Well-developed core muscles support the spine and help maintain proper alignment. They enable the back to survive much more stress and strain than it could otherwise withstand, thereby protecting against injury.

3. Stretching - The muscles, tendons, and ligaments of the back are designed to move. When they stiffen due to stress, injury, or (as in the case of most of us) lack of stretching, problems quickly surface. Almost everyone could benefit from increased flexibility. It may take time to reap the rewards, but gentle stretching performed on a regular basis pays off.

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By Hannah Henry. Copyright © 2012 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. www.spine-health.com

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