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If you’ve ever suffered from lower back pain, you would know just why it’s a condition that many adults have come to dread. It can significantly limit movement, and make life even more difficult. Some cases are temporary, but many others are chronic and can last many years! As many as 84.1% of Canadian adults have experienced dull, persistent aching in their lower backs — prompting some to call it an epidemic of sorts. Fortunately, there are ways to manage your existing lower back pain and prevent it from worsening.
What Causes Lower Back Pain?
It may come as no surprise that injury is one of the most common causes of lower back pain. You don’t need to be an athlete to sustain an injury; sudden movements involving twisting or bending of the torso can lead to physical trauma that’s just as serious. These can result from everyday activities, such as household chores.
Apart from injuries, a sedentary lifestyle and low fitness levels can also increase the likelihood of lower back pain. Muscle atrophy refers to the weakening of the spinal and surrounding lower back muscles, which causes limited movement and more pain. Sitting at a desk for long periods of time without taking breaks to stretch is one of the main culprits for weaker lower back muscles. Obesity, on the other hand, places extra pressure on the spine and lower joints. The greater your body mass index (BMI), the higher your chances of developing severe back pain.
Ways to Manage Your Lower Back Pain
There are several ways to manage lower back pain. By being more aware of your posture and building healthier habits through lifestyle changes, you can significantly reduce the level of pain in your lower back, if not eliminating it.
1. Observe Good Posture
This age-old piece of advice still has merit and is the easiest way to reduce your back pain. Making a conscious effort not to slouch and slump over your work desk is just one part of observing proper posture, which is only as good as the ergonomics of your environment allows. Office chairs, while pricey, are a worthwhile investment for overall good posture when seated. Another great alternative is to use a rolled-up towel or a lumbar support pillow to give your back the support it needs. The best lumbar support pillows are comfortable, breathable, and made of memory foam to follow the contours of your body. It’s more expensive and effective than using a rolled-up towel, but it’s also cheaper than purchasing a professional office chair.
2. Physiotherapy and Massage Therapy
When people experience pain, their first instinct is usually to touch it, suggesting that physical contact can reduce pain by connecting the mind’s map to the body. Massage therapy takes the advantages of physical touch and uses it to target areas of pain, including chronic lower back pain. Studies have shown that massage therapy is an effective low-cost alternative to invasive treatments, addressing concerns in patients with osteoarthritis, scoliosis, spinal stenosis, and degenerative disc disease.
Physiotherapy is another treatment that focuses on restoring movement and function to body parts affected by injury or illness. It takes into account how bones, nerves, and muscles are all affected and how they can be treated with physical movement. While massage therapies are more passive, physiotherapists will encourage you to play a more active role in treating your back pain.
Moving around with a stiff back might seem counterintuitive, but resting an aching back is more harmful in the long run. Increase your physical activity a little bit at a time to strengthen the area, slowly increasing the intensity and duration of your exercise. Exercises like yoga, swimming, and walking are beneficial.
The Bottom Line
Managing your back pain can involve a process of trial and error as well as a combination of treatments. Whether you decide to set reminders to keep your posture in check or see a physical therapist, there are sure ways to reduce the pain and limitations that come with this condition.
At Baseline Health and Wellness, we offer chiropractic services, physiotherapy services and massage therapy services to treat back pain and health concerns. Book a consultation with us today!
Written for baselinewellness.ca by Tara Arnold