Lower back pain is widespread. It ranks among the top reasons people miss work. Your lower back supports the entire weight of your upper body. As you move, twist, and bend, your lower back is subject to a lot of strain.
Most people with lower back pain have had a sudden injury, have overexerted themselves during physical activity, have arthritis, or are dealing with the normal wear and tear on the back caused by aging. Regardless of why you have lower back pain, there are some things that you can do to prevent it from reoccurring in the future.
Your posture plays a significant role in protecting your back from injury. If you are performing physical activities, you need to maintain proper posture. This is especially true if you play sports or have a job requiring repetitive movements.
Fight the urge to slouch and try to keep your spine straight. If you must lift heavy objects, bend your knees and straighten up from the knees. Don’t use your waist as a pivot point. Additionally, when moving or twisting from side to side, be sure to engage your hips. All of this is going to protect your back.
You need to maintain proper posture while sitting as well. If you have an office job where you are at a desk, keep your feet planted on the floor. Even if it is more expensive, you can protect your back by using a chair that has lower back support. Position your computer in a way that you do not need to hunch forward to see your computer screen and so that you do not need to reach far in front of you to use your mouse or keyboard.
Some general tips for maintaining good posture include the following.
• Don’t hunch over your laptop
• If sitting for a long time, use a cushioned chair
• If working at a desk, make sure the desk is the right height to allow you to work comfortably
• While standing, keep your feet shoulder-width apart
• Roll your shoulders back and allow your arms to hang naturally on the sides of your body
If you have hurt your back, the quicker you take steps to deal with the injury, the better chance you have of recovering quickly. Applying ice to your back within the first 24 to 72 hours can help reduce swelling and ease the pain. After that, switch back and forth between heat and cold. This switch will relax tight muscles. Hot and cold treatments work well on chronic lower back pain unrelated to an acute injury.
When using heat or cold packs, try not to use them for more than 20 minutes at a time. If you overdo it with hot or cold packs, you could damage your skin.
Lifestyle Changes to Deal with Back Pain
Stretching is key to relieving lower back pain. The more flexible your lower back is, the more protection it has against injuries that cause pain. Since your lower back is responsible for all your torso movement, you want to stretch your back muscles in several different directions.
The conventional wisdom would be that you should rest your back if you have back pain. While resting your back can be beneficial in the moments immediately following a back injury, studies show that spending too much resting can increase your back pain.
Doctors are now recommending that back pain sufferers be as active as possible. It is essential to move but only do as much movement as you can handle.
Doctors often remind patients that, in most cases, back pain isn’t severe. This doesn’t mean that it doesn’t hurt. Still, you can’t be afraid to move and to continue moving despite the pain. Walking is a good form of movement you can do on your own. Working with a physical therapist can help you identify dangerous pain levels that mean it is time to stop. A physical therapist can help you determine which movements are best for you.
Sleep smart. This means finding a bed that is comfortable for you. The best sleep posture for someone with back pain is sleeping on your side or back. If you sleep face down, you must turn your head, which makes breathing difficult, leading to increased neck and back pain. Some people find tucking a pillow between their legs while sleeping makes it easier to align their hips, minimizing back pain.
Back pain does not have to define your reality. We can help you manage your back pain. Ready to get started? Call us today at 205-637-1363.