Back pain is one of the world’s leading disabilities. In fact, lower back pain is something that almost all people experience at some point in their lives. It doesn’t discriminate against sex, age, nationality, education or occupation. The interesting thing about back pain is that it stems from several different causes.
And it doesn’t matter if you’re an athlete, a weekend warrior or a couch potato. You can be feeling fine one minute and be barely able to move the next. Five of the leading causes of lower back issues include the following:
- Muscle or ligament strain. This occurs when fibers in a muscle begin to tear from being overstretched or overused (commonly called a pulled muscle). When ligaments are overstretched or torn, this causes a lumbar sprain. Ligaments are tough, fibrous tissues that connect bones together. (Spine Health)
- Lumbar and Herniated Discs. A herniated disc occurs when the gel-like center of your disc ruptures out through a tear in the tough disc wall. The gel material is irritating to your spinal nerves, causing something like a chemical irritation. The pain is a result of spinal nerve inflammation and swelling caused by the pressure of the herniated disc. (Mayfield Clinic)
- Tight Hamstrings. The hamstrings may become tight for many reasons, some of which include injury and a lack of stretching after exercising. If the hamstrings are tight due to a previous injury such as a strain or pull, there can be a buildup of scar tissue or adhesions.
- Arthritis. While any part of the back can be affected, the lower back is the most common site of arthritis back pain, most likely because it bears more of the body’s weight. (Arthritis Foundation)
- Osteoporosis. This is a disease which reduces the density and quality of the bones. About two-thirds of spinal compression fractures are never diagnosed because many people think the back pain is just a part of aging and arthritis. (WebMD)
Did you know that sitting incorrectly is one of the leading causes of back pain? Most people think of their posture as something that’s only a concern when they are standing. However, sitting for a long time or slouching can cause postural stress. When someone tells you that they weren’t doing anything and their back just started hurting, they might be right. Especially if your job requires you to sit at a desk for most of the day, make sure to take a minute or two to stand up every hour or so.
So now you just felt an uncomfortable twinge in your lower back that hurt for a second, but then the pain passed. Nothing to worry about? Maybe. But it could be a warning sign, too. Most people ignore things like this, and there’s a very good chance that it will happen again and could be more severe.
You need to be aware of what your body is trying to tell you. Daily stretching can help alleviate these small pains before they literally knock you off your feet. Hamstring stretches are great for this. When your upper legs are tight, they affect the lower part of your back. Another great one is the knees to chest stretch. Let us show you the proper way to perform these stretches and others.
There are also some great low impact exercises which can help ease lower back pain. Some basic ones are:
- Water exercises
- Low impact aerobics
Now just don’t go grabbing your bike or jumping in the pool. If you haven’t exercised in a while, you need to start slowly and gradually increase intensity and duration, or you could make things worse. We can help you formulate an exercise regimen that will work best for you.
Speak with your physical therapist for a proper diagnosis and guidance on how to improve your mobility. They will get you back on your feet without needing pain medication or surgery. And although it may sound counter-intuitive, you need to get on your feet and do the proper exercises. Rest is fine, but not moving can actually be detrimental to your recovery.
You should also be aware that not all injuries are the same. Therefore, the methods that helped a friend or relative feel better might not work for you. Let us show you the proper treatments and exercises for your lower back pain, and also how to prevent this from happening again.