Ways to ease the pain
By Debbie Bosak Post-Tribune correspondent May 16, 2013 10:24AM
Physical therapist Jeremy Rauch of Accelerated Rehabilitation Centers (standing) leads a class on body mechanics to help alleviate back pain and gain correct posture at Dyer Town Center in Dyer, Ind. Thursday May 9, 2013. Seated clockwise from left are Alyce Deboer of Dyer, Sandy and Andy Panega of Schererville and Madison Cortese of Crown Point. | Stephanie Dowell~Post-Tribune
Who hasn’t complained of a sore back? It’s not surprising because, according to estimates, 80 percent of the adult population experiences back pain at some point in their lives.
The good news is that, in most cases, back pain is not something that has to be tolerated. With some proactive care, our backs can continue to serve us well, even into our senior years.
This was the message of Posture and Body Mechanics, a class offered by Dyer Parks and Recreation on May 9. As a physical therapist, facilitator Jeremy Rauch sees many clients suffering from back pain.
Pointing to today’s lifestyle and poor posture, Rauch, who works for Accelerated Rehabilitation Center in Northwest Indiana, noted, “We work really hard but we don’t know how to keep our backs safe.”
Through these one-hour classes, Rauch tries to provide basic education to help people prevent back pain. “Often people come to us after the fact and want to know what to do to alleviate the pain,” Rauch said. “Good body posture is key and no age is immune. It’s never early or too late to start taking care of your back.”
Beginning with a short lesson in spinal anatomy, Rauch pointed out the core muscles that help support the spine. Walking, standing, reaching and lifting all affect the back. Even our arms and legs have a direct connection.
“We are a society of sitters,” said Kyle Savino, physical therapist and director of operations at Accelerated. “We sit to watch TV, go to the movies, ride in the car and play videos. We need to worry more about the things we don’t do, like proper exercise. It’s better to be moving and mobile rather than sedentary and still.”
Good back exercise, both therapists point out, does not necessarily mean an expensive health club membership. Something as simple as walking regularly, which incorporates all the natural movements of the back, can help strengthen necessary muscles.
Another recommendation given to participants that day was to make a conscious effort to change positions often. Whether at work or home, sitting at a desk or in front of a computer for hours at a time can take its toll.
“Change your position often and be aware of slouching,” Savino said. “Don’t leave your back in one position for too long.”
In April, Indiana law changed, giving residents direct access to evaluation and treatment by a physical therapist without a physician referral, making it easier for people to seek help.
If a patient has back pain, there are many ways to make it better, according to Rauch.
“There is research that shows, of those experiencing back pain, 90 percent will have a spontaneous recovery,” Rauch said. “However, for those who don’t seek medical advice, 100 percent will have a recurrence.”
Sandy and Andy Panega of Schererville, were two who came to the class as a proactive step. Andy had bilateral knee replacement and both wanted to prevent any future back problems.
“We thought this class might help us out,” said wife Sandy. “The older you get, you tend to lose muscle tone.”
“A good rule of thumb? At the first sign of back pain, address it,” offered Rauch. “You don’t want it to lead to more severe complications, such as compression fractures or herniated disks.”
Additional classes in Posture and Body Mechanics Training are scheduled throughout the summer. For times and date contact Dyer Parks at 865-2505. Classes are free but registration is requested.