Back problems

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There are three types of misalignment of the vertebral column - lordosis, kyphosis and scoliosis - terrible names to pronounce or remember, but they are important factors relating to your back.

It might help you to understand the difference between these conditions, especially if you plan on any type of physical activity.

Lordosis is an exaggerated curve in the lumbar area of your spine. It is called an anteroposterior curvature. You see it in people with sway back posture. It can be caused by weak hip extensors or weak vertebral column flexors combined with inflexible and shortened vertebral column extensors and hip flexors. It can also be a result of congenital defect. Carrying weight in the abdominal area, whether from pregnancy or overeating, can easily cause the lordosis effect. Counter the sway back condition with strengthening exercises for your abdominal muscles and hamstrings. Also work on strengthening the back extensor and hip flexor muscles.

Kyphosis is a satgittal curve of the thoracic area of the spine. It is also known as rounded shoulders. It can also be a congenital defect, but can be helped with strengthening exercises for the vertebral column extensors and stretching of the vertebral column flexors. Any movement to pull the shoulders back and lift the spine will pull the body into vertical alignment. This causes the shoulder girdle protractors to stretch. Kyphosis is also seen in older women with osteoporosis and osteoarthritis.

Scoliosis is a lateral curve to the vertebral column that usually occurs in the thoracic area. It can be a result of imbalanced body and often pain. Functional scoloiosis can be countered with exercise or bracing, as with a lift in a shoe to straighten the body and realign it.

Look at your shoulders in the mirror. Is one higher than the other? Sit on a table and bend your knees over the edge. Are both knees even? Lay on your stomach and bend your knees up with your feet flat. See if your heels are even. Turn sideways in the mirror and check your spine alignment. Is it curved? If you can see misalignment in that mirror, and if you suffer back pain, maybe it is time you consulted a doctor. A lot of back pain can be corrected with simple stretching and strengthening exercises. You need to know what type of movements, and your doctor can give you that advice.

Lordosis, kyphosis and scoliosis are fancy terms. They cause a lot of back pain, often because of the type of work you do. Sitting or standing in one place for hours at a time, lack of exercise for strengthening and stretching and improper posture can contribute to the conditions. Find out what causes your back pain. Maybe it is a simple matter of correct posture or exercise.

Jerry Vance is certified by the American Council on Exercise and teaches fitness at the Carson City Community Center and for the American Lung Association.


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