There are a variety of causes as to why you are experiencing lower back pain. Back pain may result from underlying health conditions such as connective tissue diseases, which include different types of arthritis, fibromyalgia syndrome, or sciatica (nerve root pain). Lower back pain can also be experienced by people who are overweight or those who have a sedentary lifestyle.
Lower back pain can either develop slowly or can appear suddenly. Its symptoms depend on the underlying cause of low back pain. In most cases, acute and non-specific back pain resolves after several days or weeks without treatment. Below is the list of symptoms that you must be concerned about:
- Stiffness or aching anywhere in the lower back.
- A sharp, localized pain in the lower back, which is commonly experienced after performing a strenuous activity or lifting heavy objects.
- Chronic pain in the lower back that can be felt when you sat or stood for a prolonged period.
- Pain that is radiating from the lower back to the buttock and then down to the back of the thigh up to the toes.
- Limited flexibility of the lower back.
- Unable to stand straight and the pain is accompanied by muscle spasms in the lower back.
How to Prevent Lower Back Pain
- Regular exercises - Maintaining a strong and flexible back is the best technique to avoid getting lower back pain. The cases of recurring lower back pain can be prevented by avoiding movements that could strain the back. Stretching and strengthening the core muscles are needed to stabilize the trunk. Having regular exercises as well as proper body mechanics when lifting and maintaining good posture will all help.
- Maintain a healthy weight - It is better to watch your weight if you have low back pain. Extra weight, especially on your abdomen can aggravate your back pain.
- Quit smoking - Smoking can also aggravate lower back pain. It limits the flow of nutrients to the spinal discs making smokers more prone to have low back pain. Thus, if you’re smoking, you need to quit.
- Sleeping position - You can also suffer from low back pain if you sleep in a bad position. To have a better sleeping position, you can sleep on your side while your knees are slightly pulled toward your chest. You can also utilize pillows under your knees and lower back to achieve a more comfortable sleeping position.
- Proper bending and lifting - If you are going to pick up something that is lower than your waist level, bend your knees and keep your back straight. Refrain from bending forward with straight knees. This technique applies to both heavy and light lifting. Stand upright and avoid twisting your body. If you have an existing back pain, avoid lifting objects as much as possible. Ask for assistance if you need to lift objects that are heavier than thirty pounds.
- Wear the right shoes - Choose shoes that have a good arch support. If you are experiencing back pain, wearing shoes with cushioning features may help decrease the stress applied to your spine.
- Avoid wearing tight jeans - Wearing tight (skinny) jeans can influence how you move, especially when you walk, bend, or sit. Improper body posture due to tight jeans can worsen your back pain. Sporting a daily outfit of tight-fitting pants can compress your hips, which leads to the development of a long–term back pain.
- Choose bags with adjustable straps - A bag with an extended and adjustable strap can help you evenly distribute its weight, keeping your shoulders and back strain-free. An example of this kind of bag is a "messenger bag." If you must carry a bag that has shorter handles or straps, try switching it to your hands or arms from time to time to avoid straining only one side of your body.
- Posture and back support - Having a bad posture can add unnecessary stress and strain to your muscles and spine. Poor posture and back support can alter the anatomical features of your spine. Your nerve cells and blood vessels may constrict, and you may develop musculoskeletal problems later on. For this reason, your lower back pain can be accompanied by other conditions such as neck pain, headaches, and even fatigue.
If you work in an office and tends to sit for the whole duration of your working hours, an appropriate chair may be recommended to properly support your back. The best office chair would be the one that has an ergonomic design with an adjustable low-back support. Sit properly with your bottom pressed against the back of your chair with a cushion placed in your lower back to avoid slouching when you get tired over time. Having a low back support in your office chair is necessary to lessen back strains. Avoid slouching forward since it puts unnecessary stress on your back, particularly on your lumbar discs.
Stretches to Ease Lower Back Pain
All of us can benefit from regularly stretching our muscles, tendons, and ligaments in the back, legs, and buttocks. Doing stretches on a daily basis can boost a general feeling of overall relaxation and comfort.
Any limitation in the back and spine can produce pain. Therefore, mobilization of the spine is necessary to prevent lower back pain. Don’t forget to take a break. Stand, walk, or do some stretching every 30 minutes. Having bathroom breaks may also help break your static posture. Walking can also promote a healthy flow of blood in your body, which will greatly help in the circulation of important nutrients to your spine.
Stretching Tips for Low Back Pain
- Wear clothes that are comfortable.
- Stretch up to the point where there is no pain.
- Slowly stretch and avoid bouncing.
- Hold the stretch for about 30 seconds; doing so allows the muscles and joints to be loose.
- Do the stretch for three to five repetitions.
The goal of stretching is to improve the flexibility of the body, especially the lower back. Stretching can make a huge difference for those suffering from chronic back pain.
Knee to Chest Stretch
Lay on your back with both of your knees bent while both of your heels are flat on the ground. Place both of your hands behind one knee then bring your knee towards your chest.
Stretching the muscles in the buttocks and hips plays a vital role in keeping the flexibility of the spine. Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart, then take a little step back with your left foot. Bend the right knee and transfer the weight back to the left hip. Keep your left leg straight as you bend forward, reaching down the left leg until a stretch in your outer hip is felt.
Piriformis Muscle Stretch
The piriformis muscle can contribute to low back pain or pain in the buttock as it lies deep in the gluteal area. To stretch it, lie on your back then cross one leg over the other. Gently pull your other knee towards your chest until you feel a stretch in your buttocks.
The hamstrings are a group of muscles that can be found at the back of your thighs. Tightness in this muscle can limit motion in the pelvis that can lead to low back pain as well as disturb your normal posture. Stretching these muscles will slowly lengthen them, thus, reducing the stress felt in the lower back.