The Spine at Risk

Humans engage in many different activities throughout their life, however there are risks that influence health or well being in almost every instance. Activities done excessively or not enough bring risks. This is valid for the body and the soul.

As described in the preceding chapters for many reasons back pain is the most frequent cause of discomfort of the musculoskeletal system. There is a number of risks that are self-made by excesses, which be avoided with moderation. Excessive food, drink, work, career activities, sports and sexual activity are risk factors for body and soul. Basically every form of extreme activity or passivity is harmful. Other risk factors cannot be controlled or only a little bit. These are diseases, age-related risks or gender-specific risks.

Children or elderly are especially prone to falls and accidents, men in their most active years have heart attacks. Women suffer more in their puberty and menopause from health problems. The risk for cancer is the same for both although different organs are affected. It has to be noted that health does not always follow the medically well-advised. A single risk factor luckily does not cause a disease, only rarely. It is a sum of more risk factors that cause a disease. It is not understood completely, how small and big risk factors influence each other. It makes sense to eliminate risks to keep the number of risk factors low. The following describes risk factors related to back pain.

In case of excess weight the spinal column is overloaded. This is also true for the hip, knee and ankle. Most automobilists are afraid of overloading their car. They are aware that the shock absorbers will suffer. This is also valid for the human shock absorbers, the intervertebral discs and cartilage of the joints. An overweight of more than 10 % is a primary risk factor in every age. Reduced mobility and increased sitting promote muscle weakness and deterioration (arthrosis) of the multi-joint vertebral column. Increased fat level in the blood may cause arteriosclerosis and result in impairment of blood flow. Especially in the heart this affects the coronary blood vessels reducing the pumping capacity of the heart.

Frequently bad posture is the cause of back pain. No interest in sport in adolescence, lack of training, mobility and stress result in incomplete development of muscles in front and back and the muscle of the heart. Sedentary life styles in adult years causes atrophy of even well-developed muscles. A damaging posture for the spine develops by a sitting job over years enhanced by unsuitable furniture with no supporting backrest and/or height adjustment. Unsuitable working conditions or bad placement of working spaces, long periods of repetitive motion and wrong lifting techniques of heavy workers i.e lifting with the back instead of from the knees, all contribute to back pain.

Even during the evening leisure time, most people sit with sunken heads in too soft couches watching TV and worsening what has occurred during the day. Without exaggeration half of the people in the western world has a unchallenged and therefore meager muscles. Unchallenged muscles adapt within three to four weeks to the lower demand and begin to shrink, which can lead to back pain. Overused muscles one side of the body mostly cause under challenged muscles on the other side. Weakened muscles of the back cause a more rapid deterioration of the spine. This deterioration will amplify any back problems, giving way to vicious circle of pain and immobility. It is difficult to keep a good posture with weakened muscles. Reprimands won´t help. Self-motivation only works if the person has will to be healthy. This holds true for every age and every state of strength. Even for children, who should receive care and motivation from a parental example,and the elderly can improve the quality of life by fitness activity. For fitness and the compensation for poor daily activities there is no replacement. There is hope because muscles begin to strengthen in three to four weeks after the beginning of exercise, even after years of neglect, although it takes more time for them to return to 100% of strength.