Low back pain is so common because it is one of the most vulnerable parts of our body, absorbing lots of torque and strain during the multitude of repetitive movements or static postures we place ourselves in throughout the day. Above you can see examples of the most common pathologies of the lumbar spine.
What do you do to treat or prevent low back pain?
- For the first 3 days after the onset of pain: relative rest, ice and gentle, pain-free movement
- Avoid twisting, rounding, side-bending. Move from your legs/hips more, such as squatting with a flat back to bend or pick something up from the floor, and move from your feet when turning
- Think “Opposite”: will this movement arch my low back or round it? Then flatten or arch your back with pelvic tilt to do the opposite.
- Strengthen the deep abdominal muscles or core: this should be done by finding “neutral spine” (position of the back where you feel the least amount of pain or discomfort). The concept here is to STABILIZE the trunk while moving the arms and legs…this puts the focus on an entirely different area. It’s no longer about how big a movement is or how much weight you can lift when doing leg or arm work, but about not moving the trunk by engaging your abdominals.
- Think about your ergonomics and posture and what position your back may be in while you sit or drive. Use a pillow behind your low back when sitting.
- Avoid any prolonged positions…if your low back is starting to feel tighter, it’s time to change position!
- Talk to a physical therapist to walk you through these concepts and develop a customized program that will be specific to what kind of back pain you have.
by Ravi Lescher, MPT