Lower back pain is extremely common and disabling. Studies show that around 85 percent of people will experience low back pain at some point in their life. Worse yet, once you’ve had an episode of back pain the chance of it returning is pretty high. So what causes back pain and what can you do about it?
There are many causes of low back pain, ranging from serious injury such as a fracture, to arthritis or even just normal wear and tear due to age. For the majority of people, there is not a serious cause and low back pain occurs because of lifestyle factors such as poor posture, weak muscles in the back and abdomen, and long periods of sitting. The good news is, this means, that for many people, low back pain can largely be prevented and recurrences avoided.
Follow these 5 simple steps to prevent low back pain from spoiling your day:
1. Stay active:
Maintaining a good level of fitness keeps your muscles strong and healthy and your joints lubricated. This means that your back will be supported by a strong, supple network of muscle and your joints will move easier and more freely. A strong supple back is a painfree back.
2. Avoid excessive sitting:
Sitting for hours at a time is bad for your back. Sitting places excessive pressure on the shock absorbing disks of your back (around 3x as much pressure as standing) and on the sciatic nerve which runs underneath your buttocks. Ever wondered why you get dead legs when you’ve been sitting for a while? That’s your sciatic nerve telling you it’s sick of being compressed.
A good rule of thumb is to stand up and move your back every 30mins. Arch your spine backwards and gently turn side to side. If you work in an office, take a short walk to fill up your water bottle every so often. If your job involves a lot of driving, lift your buttocks off the seat every so often to take the pressure off.
3. Maintain a healthy weight:
The more weight you are carrying, especially around the stomach, the more pressure there is on your spine, and all your other joints. Worse, still, there is some evidence that if you are overweight you are likely to take longer to recover from an episode of back pain and there is a greater chance that your back pain will return! Ease the pressure on your back, lose that pot belly.
4. “Sit up straight”:
You probably heard it time and time again during your childhood, but do you actually do it? By maintaining a good posture, you position your lower back, shoulders, and neck in their optimal position. This opens up your lungs – helping you to breathe more deeply, and takes some of the pressure off your lower back.
Optimal posture involves maintaining a C shaped curve at the lower back, squeezing your shoulders back, keeping your feet flat on the floor and aligning your ear with your shoulder. Imagine there is a tight string attached between the top of your head and the roof causing you to sit up straight. A simple lumbar roll placed at the small of your back when sitting is a simple but effective tool.
5. Build a strong core:
The muscles around your low back, buttocks and stomach provide a supportive corset for your lower back. A large body of medical literature demonstrates that when these stabilising muscles are not functioning well, you are more likely to experience low back pain.
But before you run out and hit the gym, it must be explained that the muscles that are most important are not your standard 6 pack variety. The most important muscles appear to be the deep muscles of the core, such as the transversus abdominis and multifidus. If these sound more like names of dinosaurs, ask a Coast Allied Health physiotherapist or exercise physiologist to explain to you how to train them.
If you suffer from back pain, Coast Allied Health can help.
For an appointment or more information, please contact the friendly staff at Coast Allied Health. Call us on : 4447 5236