Lower back pain can be physically overwhelming. It can completely stop you in your tracks. Lower back pain can be caused by heavy lifting, poor posture, or an injury that occurs.
For some people, it is an unfortunate part of our story. “I’ve always had lower back problems because that’s the way it’s always been.”
If you have experienced lower back pain, whether from a recent injury or chronic pain that you’ve been dealing with, there is hope.
Causes of Lower Back Pain
Lower back pain is typically a symptom of muscle or ligament strain caused by heavy lifting, improper posture, or general injuries from movement. This type of pain is usually acute and goes away after time. Chronic lower back pain lasts longer than three months. This could be a sign of a lumbar herniated disc, degenerative disease, spinal stenosis, or another medical condition.
If your lower back pain is suddenly unbearable, worsens, comes with additional physical symptoms, or has lasted longer than one month, consider seeing a healthcare professional immediately.
Tips to Help You Avoid Lower Back Pain
Today, we will provide 3 preventative measures that can help you avoid future back pain and maintain a healthy spine.
1. Strengthen Your Back
Acute pain that suddenly appears in your back can stem from playing sports or weightlifting. Without the proper strength, it’s easy to injure your back and have to deal with the unintended consequence of lower back pain. Your lower back, or lumbar region, provides stability for bodily movement and function. When you keep your back muscles strong, you help avoid the tweaks, pulls, and aggravations that lead to lower back pain.
By incorporating back strengthening workouts and stretching into your weekly routine, you can fortify your back muscles to create a stronger version of yourself. It’s recommended to complete back-strengthening exercises at least twice a week.
Some back-strengthening exercises you can do at home without equipment are:
- Knee-to-chest stretches
- Lying lateral leg lifts
- Partial curls
Core exercises, yoga, Pilates, and tai chi can also be incorporated into your workout routine at home to help support lower back strength.
2. Improve Your Posture
Proper posture provides us with the mobility, balance, and structure we need to move effectively. It also lessens muscle fatigue, improves circulation, and reduces lower back pain. You can check in with yourself to see if you have proper posture throughout the day. Your chin should be parallel to the floor, your knees should point straight ahead, and your shoulders should be even. To even out your shoulders, roll them up, back, and down.
If your job requires you to sit for long periods, do your best to stay consistent with checking your posture. You can set a reminder to check it every 20 to 30 minutes. You can stand, stretch, and sit back down in the correct form. For proper posture, while seated, make sure your feet are resting flat on the floor or a footrest. Avoid crossing your legs as much as possible. Your elbows should create an L-shape, and your line of vision should be only a few inches above any screens to avoid craning your neck downward.
3. Refine Your Workouts or Movements
The majority of acute lower back pain stems from excessive heavy lifting. Whether you’re moving materials at work or moving weights at the gym, a refined form is essential. Refining your workouts or movements begins with proper form. When lifting a heavy item, begin by bending your knees and squatting down in front of the item. Hold the item tightly close to your body and straighten your legs. All the upward force should come from your legs. Your back muscles should not feel strained, hurt, or forced.
Avoid twisting your body while holding the heavy object, and never lift the heavy object past your shoulders. When you want to put the object down, squat again as you did in the beginning and set it down slowly. If you are moving about throughout the day, focus on completing each movement slowly and with intent. This will help you increase your flexibility and avoid muscle tears from abrupt or ill-conceived movements.
For those who do additional lower-back exercises with heavyweights, ask a trainer or gym employee to ensure you are keeping proper form during the exercise. It’s also important to read and implement fitness tips for safe workouts. Working out with a bad form can be far worse for your body than not working out at all.
Tips to Treat Existing Lower Back Pain
There are various solutions for the lower back muscle strains that are causing you discomfort. From home remedies to professional chiropractic adjustments, there is plenty you can do to alleviate your lower back pain.
1. Chiropractic Adjustments
You can correct any existing misalignments while alleviating lower back pain by visiting a chiropractor for lower back pain. Chiropractors are medical professionals who improve your body’s alignment. After assessing and working with your spine, chiropractors manipulate the joints to improve their quality of motion. This, in turn, eases pain and restores joint movements that were otherwise painful. On top of reducing back pain, chiropractic adjustments can also reduce headaches, improve posture, reduce scoliosis symptoms, and lessen neck pain.
2. Home Remedies
When your lower back hurts, it’s easy to want to stay in bed all day. After a day or two, however, this becomes counterproductive, as your muscles tense up and weaken from being in the same position for so long. A better approach is to make sure you are moving around and stretching daily. If you can add in daily light exercises to strengthen your muscles back up, you’ll receive even more health benefits.
Ensuring you have a mattress for back pain and sleeping position is also essential. Try to avoid sleeping on your stomach. For those sitting or working, ice and heat combinations can also temporarily relieve lower back pain during your day.
Yoga, Pilates, and tai chi are great ways to strengthen your core and lower back muscles. You can do most of these activities in your home, and there are plenty of instructional videos or in-person classes available worldwide.
Yoga itself is a gentle practice that uses poses and breathing techniques to stretch and strengthen muscles. It can help reduce lower back pain by reducing muscular tension, improving flexibility, and improving bone strength.
We rely on the muscles in our lower back a lot. Walking, sitting up or down, and simply moving about all require your lower back muscles. Just as using your lower back muscles is common, so is lower back pain.
In fact, just about everyone at some point in their life will experience lower back pain, whether acute or chronic. However, that doesn’t mean you are guaranteed to hurt your lower back or doomed to a life of back pain.
All in all, a basic understanding of back pain goes a long way. Paired with a proper preventative routine, you have the tools at your exposure to prevent an occurrence of or treat existing lower back pain.
Try the various tips in this guide to help you avoid or treat existing lower back pain if already injured, but most of all, don’t fret if you’ve tweaked your back. Most injuries are muscle related and thus effective treatment is possible.