Back to Basics

By Nikki Kallio

You know that moment: You’re overloaded with your computer bag, your gym bag and some groceries so you don’t have to make two trips to the car. But then you feel that tell-tale tweak in your back, and now you’re perpetually sore on top of being perpetually busy. Or maybe you’ve felt low-grade soreness in your back for a while and pushed through the pain because you thought it would go away on its own — until it doesn’t.

“A lot of times we wait until something becomes a problem, or we wait until there’s an actual symptom for something to be corrected,” says Dr. Alexandria Quick of ADIO Chiropractic in Middleton. “And at that point, that problem has probably been lingering for a lot longer.”

Keeping your back in top shape should start long before you feel the need to visit the chiropractor’s office. Here’s what you can do to ensure your back stays healthy and happy.


“When talking about [back] wellness, it all begins with your life- style,” says Dr. Kaili Richey, chiropractic neurologist and founder of Arc of Life Medical Center. Inflammation can change your body’s chemistry in a negative way, stimulating pain receptors, affecting your joints, blood sugar levels and your organ function.

“Are you eating inflammatory foods? Are you consuming enough clean water? All of that leads into your overall health, your spinal health and your muscles,” says Dr. Richey.


Chiropractors tend to see women injure their backs by trying to carry too much at once, Dr. Quick says. Since muscles connect everything in the body, “when muscles are tight, they have to work harder to keep your body upright … this compensation can create pull, or tension, elsewhere. Over time, this compensation can create a ripple effect throughout your body. [If] one area is out of balance, then other areas have to compensate. This can lead to chronic pain, stiffness and dysfunction.”

Be sure to lift with your legs and don’t bend from the waist to lift something heavy. If you’re turning your body while carrying heavy things, Dr. Richey says to make sure you rotate with your feet first. She also recommends carrying heavy items close to you versus out in front of you, as you’re less likely to strain your muscles and cause injury.

However, lifting heavy things isn’t always a recipe for back pain. Weightlifting is crucial in maintaining back health. Doing weight training and engaging as many different muscle connections as you can helps strengthen your bones and also promotes healing by increasing blood flow, Dr. Richey says.


The pelvic floor and lumbar spine work together to stabilize the body during activities such as standing, walking and running, Dr. Quick says. When the pelvic floor muscles are weak, the lumbar spine will try to compensate for the lack of stability by overworking. This can lead to muscle imbalances, which can affect a person’s ability to lift even a small amount.

“Strengthening your core and pelvic floor enhances the optimal func- tioning of your spine, ensuring the smooth coordination of the nervous system and spine,” she adds.

Additionally, by promoting healthy alignment and mobility of the pelvis, a chiropractor can help alleviate menstrual pain by ensuring proper circulation and nerve function, leading to less pain and discomfort during menstruation.

“The pubic synthesis, which is the front bone of your pelvis — a lot of people forget that’s a joint,” Dr. Richey says. “If that is off, women tend to have increased back pain and cramping during their menstrual cycles.” Chiropractic adjustments should include both the posterior and front areas of the pelvis, she says.


“Stress management and your mental and emotional health all contribute to your overall health, especially your back and your spine,” Dr. Richey says. “If you’re sad or having a bad day, it’s going to change your posture. You’re going to be more slumped forward, your shoulders are going to curve in, [and] you’re going to get what we call ‘forward head posture’ — and that puts a lot of strain on your neck, upper back and lower back.”

Try to take mini breaks throughout the day to reset.

“Taking a deep breath, squeezing your shoulders back, looking up at the sky and actually taking a deep breath and letting it out and smile is a huge thing,” Dr. Richey says. “It just helps you emotionally and physically — it makes you feel better.”

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