With so many of us spending a great deal of time in our own homes right now, it’s probably likely that you’ve been getting some back aches and pains, but if you’ve been prone to suffering from lower back pain in the past, you may be more affected by it. Today we’re discussing how you can resolve your lower back pain at home, how to recognise the problem, what behaviours you need to cut out, as well as a plan you can set in motion to start your rehabilitation.
How Does Lower Back Pain Occur?
If you’ve read any of our articles before, you may understand how the lower back deals with load. Your spine naturally has curvature that can allow it to effectively distribute body weight so as to not become injured. However, sitting with poor posture is one of the most damaging things you can do long-term for your spine. The ligaments that hold your spine in its position, loosen and remould to suit your new preferred sitting style, which also explains why you’ll usually find poor posture comfortable. As your spine changes its curvature, areas that are not designed to bear weight, are placed under great strain. This can cause pockets of degeneration to occur in certain areas of the spine, as well as disc bulges, slips and herniations. As your spine changes, your muscles may become sore or achy, and may even spasm to protect the area. These are all signs that something is wrong. For most people, this process occurs over a time of repeated stress and strain – for example, frequently sitting looking down at their phone, or slouching at their desk followed by an evening of slouching on their sofa. For very few people, this process can also be kick started by a one off trauma, such as a fall or crash. We hear frequently from people worried because their doctor has told them they have a lordosis, this is a simple statement to say that they have curves in their spine: this is completely normal. Where problems occur are when you have a hyperlordotic or hypolordotic spine.
What Makes Lower Back Pain Worse?
Our body is, for the most part, fully able to heal itself. So why can some cases of back pain persist for weeks, months or even years? Bad habits can cause repeated stress on the back, and if you don’t understand the underlying problem then you may have a hard time fixing the problem. Knowing what kind of things on a daily basis could be further irritating your spine, as well as fixing your posture and doing consistent rehabilitation, all stand a great chance of getting your spine in good shape.
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One of the most common mistakes is using heat on back pain. Hands up if you’ve had a hot shower or hot bath to try and help with back aches or pains? The reason we usually do this is obvious, hot showers and baths feel good. But you need to look objectively as to whether they’re actually doing you any good in the long-term. If you have a back problem, using ice is going to be much more worthwhile, even if it doesn’t feel as good at the time. Ice will likely make you feel a little stiffer as it’s cold, but this will pass once your body has warmed up to its normal temperature. Wrapping an ice pack or bag of peas in a tea towel and popping it on the center of your lower back on the spine, for around 5 minutes at a time and repeated a few times a day, will help to lower inflammation and lessen pain. Heat on the other hand can exacerbate inflammation.
Being aware of your posture is also very important. Make frequent reminders to check in with yourself frequently during the day, when sitting and walking, to observe your posture. Check your shoulders are back, your head is neutral above the shoulders – neither looking up nor down for sustained periods of time and check your lower back has its curve preserved when you’re sitting at your desk. This means if you regularly sit looking down at your phone, that you try holding it in front of your face instead. Gadgets you can pop on the back of your phone, like a pop-socket, might make this much easier. When you’re sitting at your desk, if you have lumbar support in your chair then make sure your bottom is snug at the back of the chair in order to make use of it. If you don’t have lumbar support, which many of us don’t right now when working from home, you can make your own with a rolled up towel placed in the small of your back, while again the bottom is snug at the back of the chair.
Finally, another mistake it is common to make is excessive forward bending movements. Whether it’s that you’ve taken up yoga, or you’ve been recommended knee hugs, or you hinge at the waist to bend down, these are all common mistakes. Forward bending is often recommended to relieve lower back pain as it allows for the space in which nerves travel through, to be opened out. This can feel quite relieving in the moment, but is essentially akin to tearing a scab on a previous injury. If you stoop your posture to make the pain feel better, this can again slightly open out these holes, but inflammation can build and fill that extra space, which can then make standing up straight very painful and difficult. This type of motion only serves to ease the symptoms, but not target the underlying cause.
What Exercises Are Helpful For Lower Back Pain?
If you’ve been struggling with your lower back pain, we highly recommend you sign up to our free membership area at www.backinshapeapp.com, here we have a basic area where you can learn exactly what kind of stretches would be helpful, more in-depth advice on what mistakes you could be making, an icing protocol that’s easy to follow along to, and the towel stretch for your lower back to relieve the pressure on your muscles and joints. The stretches we recommend here are helpful for restoring your range of movement, which can often be compromised when you have back pain and we tend to feel a bit stiff. You can continue on to the premium plan at your discretion, which is a progression to strengthening your core and supportive muscles in the body to make a more complete recovery. A lot of times, it’s common to be stuck in a rut of doing exercises until you feel better and then stopping. Having a plan to follow can help you to stay motivated to complete the program, so that you can enjoy working out and making your body stronger, so you don’t relapse in the long-term.
We hope today’s article has been helpful for you! If you have any questions at all, please do not hesitate to reach out to us on our social channels, or by tuning in to our live videos every weekday on YouTube and Facebook. Here we host a Q&A with our lead practitioner Michael Fatica, to help you understand your problem better. Don’t forget, if you do have back pain, check out our free membership area to learn more about proper rehabilitation at www.backinshapeapp.com.
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