Chronic lower back pain is one of the most common reasons that people between the ages of 30 and 50 visit a doctor, or take time off work. With statistics like that, it seems like back pain is an inevitable part of adulthood, but it doesn’t have to be. Managing lower back pain is possible with regular exercise, stretching, healthy eating — and when needed, a trip to the physiotherapist.
Regular cardiovascular exercise helps to reduce lower back pain. Why? Cardio keeps muscles and joints loose, increases muscle strength, helps with weight loss, and brings blood flow to injured areas, which helps to reduce inflammation and encourage healing. Of course, a person should be careful about which exercise they choose to do, as choosing an activity that is too high impact or too vigorous could result in a new injury. Start slowly. Something as simple as a daily walking routine will help immensely.
Weak muscles are often to blame when people suffer chronic pain, and while it may seem counter-intuitive to work muscles that are in pain, it’s actually beneficial. It is important not to do exercises that cause, or exacerbate pain — exercises should always be pain free. Lower back pain suffers need to keep the muscles around their spine strong because these muscles provide protection against excessive strain and stress on the spine’s joints and ligaments. Specific lower back and core exercises are required for treatment and prevention of back pain, but these exercises should always be at the prescription of a physiotherapist to prevent further injury.
Stretching also plays an important role in pain management. Here are some simple stretches that can be done almost anywhere:
- gentle twisting in a chair;
- bending over in a chair;
- gently leaning backwards;
- lying on your back, knees bent, dropping both knees together, gently rolling from side to side;
- lying on your back and bring one knee at a time to your chest.
Hold each stretch for approximately 15-30 seconds, 3-5 times each, and 2-3 times a day for best results. All stretches should be done slowly and gently. Stretching should not be painful.
Eating healthy and staying hydrated are also great ways to stay pain free. Being overweight is a major contributor to chronic lower back pain due to the compressing forces and stresses that extra weight has on the spine’s ligaments, discs and joints. Research has shown that certain foods, in addition to helping maintain a healthy weight, can actually reduce inflammation in the body. If lower back pain is an issue, try incorporating more healthy fats, fruits, and vegetables into your diet, while avoiding processed foods that are high in sugar and saturated fats, as these foods may actually encourage inflammation in the body.
Lower back pain is one of the most common issues we treat. Let us help you get back to pain free living – call us today to make an appointment.