Health Tips: 3 Ways To Prevent Back Pain for Divers
By Selene Yeager
Those outside the diving ranks don’t generally regard scuba as an arduous sport. But those outside of our sport have never hauled a 50-pound tank around a moving boat … or tried to swim through currents and get in and out of the rolling seas with one strapped to their back. Speaking of backs, it’s the part that bears the brunt of our efforts, so it’s important to keep it strong, so aches and pains don’t derail your next dive. Here’s how:
1. Lift with your legs. You’ve heard this advice 1000 times. Well make it 1001 and remember it. When you need to lift heavy dive tanks, squat down, grab them, and lift them with your legs. Bending forward from the waist and using your low back places undue stress on your spine and can cause painful disc problems.
2. Strengthen your core. Weak core muscles open the door to low back pain, especially for divers who spend so much time bowed like a U as their legs drift up behind them. Ab crunches can prevent some pain by strengthening the muscles that support your torso. But research shows the fullest protection comes from flipping over and working your spine supporters through their entire range of motion. Do back extensions and crunches (described below) twice a week.
Back extension: Lie facedown with your arms bent and hands folded underneath your forehead. Lift your head, shoulders and torso off the floor as is comfortably possible. Return to start. Repeat eight to 12 times.
Criss-cross crunch: Lie on your back, knees bent 90 degrees and legs lifted so calves are parallel to the floor. Place your hands behind your head. Lift your right shoulder off the floor and curl toward your left knee as you extend your right leg. Switch sides.
3.Make time for muscle in your workout. Sometime after we blow out the candles on our 30th birthday cake, we start losing up to a half-pound of lean muscle tissue a year. That means less strength and, because muscle fuels your calorie-burning metabolism, more fat. It also means your low back has to pick up the slack that your chest, legs and shoulders should be doing. Turn the tide with a little strength training. U.S. Navy research shows you can replace two pounds (nearly five years' worth!) of lean muscle tissue and shed four pounds of fat by doing just four strength training exercises three times a week. Do these moves (three sets of 10 repetitions) starting today:
Simple squat: Stand, holding dumbbells at your sides. Squat down like you're sitting in a chair until your thighs are nearly parallel to the floor (don't let your knees jut past your toes). Return to start.
Chest press: Lie on your back holding dumbbells over your chest with arms extended. Lower the weights until your upper arms are even with your chest. Press back to the start.
Bent-over row: Stand, holding dumbbells. Bend forward from your hips until your back is nearly parallel to the floor, with your arms hanging down, palms back. Pull the dumbbells to your chest, then lower.
Original sources: Health Tip: 3 Ways To Prevent Back Pain