Statistics show that more than 80 percent of Americans will experience low back pain at some point in their lives, which means that lower back pain is pretty much inevitable for most of us. In fact, lower backaches are so common that pain in the lower back is one of the top reasons for missed workdays each year. Some people experience lower backaches and pain from acute medical conditions like a herniated disc, sciatica, or spinal stenosis, while others experience pain that builds over time due to physical activity, overuse, and aging. While nearly all of us will have a lower backache at some point in our lives, we don’t have to live in pain forever. You can find lower backache pain relief and prevent future episodes with a few general guidelines.
Your mom has undoubtedly told you to sit up straight a time or two, but while we all know what good posture is, most of us don’t actually use it on a daily basis. Poor posture is one of the biggest causes of lower backaches, especially if you have poor posture while sitting for long periods of time. With many people working office jobs and sitting for most of the day, poor posture can have a big impact when done for hours day after day. Maintaining correct posture while sitting isn’t complicated: keep your feet flat on the floor, keep your shoulders back and spine tall, and use a chair that provides lumbar support for your lower back. Sitting isn’t the only time you’ll need good posture; make sure that you lift weights, run, and perform other physical activities with the right form in order to prevent lower back pain.
Tighten Your Tummy
One of the most critical actions you can take for lower backache relief is strengthening your core muscles. The core, which includes the abdominal muscles, the muscles in your lower back, the muscles in your pelvic floor and your glutes, is one of the best places to start if you’re looking for back pain relief because a strong core equals a strong back. People with weak cores need their spinal bones and cartilage to work overtime to account for wear and tear on the spine because the core muscles are unable to keep the spine properly suspended. It’s important to have a strong core because it makes your daily movements more efficient, improves your form during exercise, helps prevent overuse injuries, and decreases chronic back pain within the spinal cord. If sit-ups and crunches aren’t your thing, don’t worry – dancing is one of the best ways to strengthen your core, and there are many low impact dance videos you can do no matter how sensitive your spine is.
Often, the first inclination when we experience a lower backache is to get some bed rest, but that’s usually the worst thing we can do for our bodies. Unless you’ve suffered a severe injury, rest is actually counterproductive to most types of acute back pain. Because our spines were designed to move, gentle movement can help the muscles around your spine relax and help your body heal in the short term. This isn’t an invitation to go for a long run or lift heavy weights; stick to gentle, low impact aerobic exercises like swimming, walking, or gentle yoga and stretching to benefit your spine health. If you experience acute low back pain, muscle tension, or muscle spasms, try to get up and move a little bit each hour or go for short walks down the block. Just make sure you get moving and get some blood flow going!
Rotate Ice and Heat
If the first thing you want to do when you start feeling an ache in your lower back is to throw on a heating pad, you’re not alone. Unfortunately, because heat increases inflammation, your heating pad can do more harm than good if not used properly, eventually causing your pain to worsen. The best course of action is to apply ice or a cold pack to your back and not use any heat for the first 24 to 48 hours after an injury. This home remedy helps to reduce inflammation. After the first two days, you can choose to rotate between ice packs and heat, using one for 20 minutes at a time and then switching to the other. Switching back and forth between ice and heat helps to relax the muscles and reduce. Try this trick before using a back pain treatment like pain relievers such as over-the-counter NSAIDs, acetaminophen, Advil, Aleve, Motrin, ibuprofen, or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like Naproxen or even muscle relaxants that can have side effects.
Leave the Heels and Flip Flops at Home
As much as we love fashionable footwear, people with lower back pain need to wear shoes that offer support. High heels and flip flops usually aren’t designed to support your back (although there are some exceptions), so try to leave these and other unsupportive options at home most of the time. Always wear the appropriate footwear for the activity you’re doing.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Your spine is the support system for your entire body, so it makes sense that carrying extra weight can contribute to additional wear and tear on your back muscles. People who are overweight or obese can see the rate of degeneration in their spines increase more rapidly than those at a healthy weight, so losing even five or ten pounds can help reduce your chronic pain through simple lifestyle changes or an exercise program.
If you haven’t made stretching part of your regular routine, now’s the time to do so. It’s common for people with lower back pain to have tight muscles in the glutes, hamstrings, and spine, and stretching regularly can help. Stretching regularly not only keeps your muscles from getting too tight, but it also helps with the relief of both chronic and acute lower back pain. Gentle yoga videos are available specifically for low back pain that will guide you through a series of stretches designed to alleviate pain and improve flexibility.
If all else fails, there are other treatment options like physical therapy, behavioral therapy, or even seeing a chiropractor.