Lower back pain is something most of us will suffer from at some point in our adult lives — around eighty percent of us, according to experts. For many, it will be a minor inconvenience; for others, it will seriously affect their day-to-day activities and cause them to drastically change the way they live and to miss work.
Lower back pain is often caused by soft tissue injuries or mechanical issues with the spine and joints. Injuries like disc damage, nerve compression, or the very common pulled muscle or ligament which can happen suddenly or develop slowly from repetitive movements.
Common causes of sudden back pain are sports injuries, accidents, or other sudden movements that stress the back - you know, when we wind up on the floor, unable to move from the back pain, and know what happened. Other injuries develop slowly due to overuse of the muscles. Lifting weights or even sitting too much can cause pain over time. Other causes you might not even consider are sleep positioning, regularly carrying a heavy backpack or bag, and even poor posture.
Fortunately, most lower back injuries can be resolved with self-care like the options below:
Resting the part that hurts is a natural reaction, although your daily responsibilities may make it difficult to avoid using your back. Especially if your pain was caused by overuse. But if you can rest for a few days, avoiding any strenuous activity, you might feel better. More than a few days of rest, however, can be too much. Your back needs gentle stretching and circulatory support to heal. After resting initially, staying active helps but you may need to modify your activities to avoid aggravating the pain. Don’t forget, that inflammation will be involved and inflammation takes time to subside.
Heat and cold can ease your discomfort and help you stay active while you’re healing. A hot water bottle or heating pad can relax muscles and improve blood flow to the area, delivering oxygen and nutrients needed for healing. It also helps loosen stiff muscles, making it easier for you to move around. A cold pack, on the other hand, reduces swelling and inflammation. You can use them both even after the initial injury. Applying heat before planned activity can help your mobility, while applying cold afterwards can reduce inflammation.
Exercise may seem counterintuitive if you’re hurt, but the right activity can increase blood flow to the area without aggravating the injury, keeping the muscles nourished and flexible. Aerobic activities like riding a stationary bike, walking, using an elliptical, or aqua therapy can be gentle, healing options that keep you moving. Probably a good idea to consult a physician about your plans for activity to remedy your backpain before you get going.
Your core muscles — abdominal, hip, and glutes —help support and protect your spine. Exercises that strengthen those muscles help support and strengthen the area not just while you’re healing, but every day. Keeping your core strong can help prevent injuries. Yoga and Pilates can help you heal and strengthen these important muscles. Check you tube for demonstrations on how to do these exercises properly.
Stress relief might not be the first option to come to mind when you think of healing your back, but maybe it should be. Mind-body therapies like deep breathing exercises and mindfulness meditation can help reduce the tense positions in which you hold your muscles and also improve your state of mind. Effective stress relief mediation can help you block out negativity and reduce your stress level. Mind-body therapies are also proven to help reduce issues caused by pain that, in turn, further aggravate the pain like insomnia, depression, anxiety.
Regular exercise to support circulation, flexibility, and range of motion is important to promote healing with lower back pain, but it’s also an important factor in preventing back pain. A strong, healthy body is less likely to suffer certain types of injuries and can bounce back from injury faster than an unhealthy body. Regular exercise is the best way to ensure your back has got your back.