The spinal column is a structure of bones called vertebrae that protect the cable of nerves that run throughout the body. The general term for a group of conditions affecting the spinal column is spina bifida occulta. According to the Spina Bifida Association, many physicians refer to the various spinal conditions as vertebral fusion defects to disassociate the defects from spina bifida, which is a serious spinal cord birth defect that causes extensive nerve damage. Spina bifida occulta rarely causes symptoms, though general wellness practices and strong core and lower body exercises can help prevent back pain and foot drop that often occur from the disease.
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A common symptom of spina bifida occulta is persistent lower back pain. According to the Spina Bifida Association, a regular routine of stretching exercises can relieve that pain and keep your spine limber. Perform hamstring stretches, lower back and hip flexor stretches as well as heel stretches daily to prevent the discomfort. Sustain stretches without bouncing to avoid injury.
The most effective exercises to relieve back pain from spina bifida occulta disorders are those that strengthen the muscles surrounding the spine, according to chiropractor Dr. Stephen A. Novelli. For example, head resistance exercises work to strengthen the top of the spine by providing resistance from your hands as you push your head against them in various positions. Your core muscles support your back effectively and are strengthened by exercises that target the abdominals, obliques and glutes.
Stability balls or exercise balls are effective pieces of exercise equipment that can help to strengthen your core muscles to better support your spine. Performing sit-ups while lying back against a stability ball enhances the core-strengthening power of the exercise. An effective back strengthening exercise is to lie on the ball on your stomach with your hands locked behind your head. Slowly lift your upper body and hold the position for a few counts before lowering back down and repeating 10 times.
Dr. Novelli recommends performing back exercises first thing in the morning before your spinal malformations can stiffen up and cause you pain during the day. Make it a habit to get on the floor or on your stability ball each morning to run through a set of repetitions followed by stretching. Even if you take time to perform a few exercises in the bed before your feet hit the floor, you will be better able to cope with your spinal problems throughout the day.
Proper posture is paramount to living with spina bifida occulta successfully without developing difficulties that could require surgical intervention. Maintaining proper posture when standing, walking and sitting not only keeps the vertebrae aligned and prevents slipping, it also can help prevent falls and instability. Include posture correction exercises in your daily routine to prevent back pain.