Back muscle spasms may seem like something that only afflicts older people, but college students can be especially vulnerable to their debilitating effects. Leaning over books, sitting hunched over, and staying prolonged positions make students vulnerable. Spasms and back pain can prevent students from going to class and enjoying the activities they love. While muscle spasms in the back may not be completely preventable, there are steps that can be taken to help college students avoid them.
Causes of Back Spasms
A sudden, abnormal contraction of a muscle is known as a spasm. When it occurs near the spine it can be especially painful. A spasm often occurs when a person is pushing, pulling or twisting. While it may only seem like a twinge at first, the resulting pain can get worse over time and the sufferer often only wants to lie still.
College students can be at risk for back spasms due to several aspects of the school lifestyle. Knowing what can cause them is half the battle to avoiding them.
*Heavy loads – College students frequently haul large loads around campus inside their backpacks, which can put added strain on the back and its supporting muscles.
*Moving furniture – Students often move large, heavy pieces of furniture into a dorm room or apartment building. Using improper lifting techniques can cause muscle spasms in the upper back or other areas.
*Posture – Slouching or being bent over a desk for long periods of time, such as being in a sitting position in class or studying, can weaken the muscles in the back.
*Active lifestyle – Sports like weight lifting, basketball, golf, football or baseball can cause sudden back spasms due to the twisting nature of them.
There are other causes of back spasms, including tight hamstrings, weak back muscles and weak abdominal muscles.
How to avoid Back Muscle Spasms
While muscle spasms in the back can occur at nearly any time, especially during times of exertion, there are some steps college students can take to avoid them.
*Stretch – There are a variety of exercises that can be done for the back, but the hip flexor muscles also need to be targeted. These muscles form a support girdle around the lower spine and can be made weak from long periods of time sitting. Take the time to properly stretch all muscles before engaging in any athletic activity. Rest when fatigue begins to set in and don’t push too hard.
*Lighten the load – Only carry as much in a backpack as is necessary at any given time. If there is a long period of time between classes, take the books for one, go back home and retrieve the textbooks for the next. Limit bag weight to around 10 percent of body weight.
*Team lift – When moving furniture, don’t try to lift too much. Partner up with another student on any item that is excessively large or heavy. Move large items only a few feet at a time and set them down when the load feels too heavy.
*Proper posture – Avoid spending too much time bent over books, computers, iPods or tablets. Be sure to take breaks periodically when studying and stretch out the muscles. Switch studying positions when hitting the books for long periods of time.
The pain from back muscle spasms can stop anybody in their tracks. It can come on suddenly or be a recurring problem. The pain can last for an extended period of time, which can jeopardize a student’s classroom success by preventing them from attending. Avoiding back spasms may not be completely possible, but using common sense and staying away from certain situations will make them less likely.