Low Back Pain Causes & Tips to Relieve It
Low back pain is experienced by 31 million Americans every year and can be debilitating. We've seen many clients who have lived with chronic pain and felt helpless. Here are some stretches and tips for getting your low back to a healthy state.
Your low back is comprised of mainly six bones: Lumbar 1 through Lumbar 5 and your Sacrum (all highlighted in yellow). In between each vertebrae is a disc and any misalignment in either the dis or the vertebrae can cause significant back pain, however with low back pain this is not always the case.
These bones are connected to a myriad of large and small muscles which encompass a large mass of nerves which are often the cause of pain (as anyone who has experienced Sciatica can attest to).
Speaking of common culprits, Sciatica is often the cause of low back pain characterized by pain which begins at the buttock and runs down the back of the leg. This is due to compression on the sciatic nerve by either a herniated disc or the pelvis itself (which often happens in pregnant women).
A herniated disc is a disc is a spongey substance that is prone to wear and tear from aging and injury over time. This can lead to the disc tearing or bulging on one end putting pressure on the spinal nerves.
Twisting Motions, Prolonged Sitting & Muscle Strain
Many times low back pain is due to repetitive twisting motions or just plain sitting for long periods. As we age, most of us lack core muscle strength, which eventually leads to injury.
Here are our 5 tips for keeping your low back healthy and improving your core strength:
1. Avoid Twisting Motions - these motions are often done without thinking, and that's the problem. When you are doing laundry, or if you are driving and grab something from the back seat of the car, or often when you are at work sitting in your chair and twist around to grab a file. Be more deliberate in your motions.
2. Sleep with a Pillow under or between your knees. You may be working hard all day to keep your back in perfect alignment, but when you wake up in the morning you're back to ground zero. If you sleep on your back your low back need support so place a pillow under your knees to alleviate discomfort. If you sleep on your side, place the pillow between your knees.
3. Keep your knees in alignment with weight balanced on both feet. Your back needs rest and you can make sure that it gets the rest it needs by keeping your knees aligned. Avoid starting and stopping motions like vacuuming, raking, mopping or even gardening which may make your back pain worse. Avoid crossing your legs while sitting or standing with one hand on your hip (which usually means you have placed all of your weight on one foot.)
4. Stretch every morning and every night. Stretching can help reduce pain and tension. Try these stretches which are perfect for low back pain:
Two Knee Twist (In Alignment):
Knees to Chest (Rocking forward/back, left/right if comfortable).
5. Improve core strength. Back pain typically happens because the muscles of the core and abdomen are weak in comparison to the musculature of the back. Once you are completely healed, begin gentle exercise to improve core strength. If you aren't completely healed this may result in injury, so take it easy as you begin working out again. Here is a link to some excellent core strengthening exercises meant for post injury rehabilitation.