Author: Karen Tickner, PMA-CPT, MES
Studies have shown that most people will experience low back pain at least once in their lives. In fact, 80% of Americans have experienced low back pain at one point or another. Believe it or not, LBP (or Low Back Pain) can be easily relieved with some very simple steps!
1. Get moving
The human body was created to move. When we sit for long periods of time, the compression on the vertebral disks can result in some pressure on the spine, which can cause pain over time. Standing up and moving on a regular basis will allow the disks to move like they need to, enhance blood flow in your back and hips, and strengthen your body’s core. Even better, adding a few minutes into your day to stretch, especially the backs of your legs, will help provide some relief.
2. Strengthen your core
Adding in simple core-based exercises can go a long way to help your LBP. Often, low back pain can be caused by misalignments of the spine and poor postural habits. These alignment and posture issues are related to muscular strength and flexibility imbalances between the muscles of your core – abs, lower back muscles, hips, shoulders, neck, etc. Adding some core-based exercises into your day, even if it’s just for 5 minutes, can have a significant positive impact on your back pain! A great place to find simple core exercises is in a yoga class, Pilates, Tai Chi, or in these simple core-based exercises.
3. Check out your shoes
You got it, the source of your LBP could be found on your feet. Wearing shoes that are unsupportive, or even high heels, can be the root cause of misalignments in your spine, which then result in back pain. If you are going to be on your feet for long periods of time, it’s worth a shot to try better, more supportive shoes with good arch and ankle support to help eliminate any back discomfort that you experience.
4. Makeover your work station
The code word for that is “ergonomics.” When it comes to where you spend most of your day, what does that look like? How do you usually sit in your work chair? Improper posture or slouching at your workstation can cause back discomfort and pain. Becoming aware of and making corrections to your posture and workstation habits can help ease the discomfort you may feel at the end of the day.
5. Add variety to your day
Repetitive actions or movements can be the source of back pain, since they cause imbalances in the body’s strength and flexibility. For example, if you are an avid golfer and do no other activity besides that, the repetitive, one-sided movements can cause strength to develop on one side of the body more than the other. Mixing in some cross-training exercises – or things that work both sides of the body evenly – can help balance the strength between the right and left sides of your body and help decrease low back pain.
6. Ice, ice, baby!
If your back is particularly sore from a long day, try applying ice. It helps lower inflammation and swelling and can provide some quick relief. Be sure to use a towel between the ice and your skin to prevent the ice from injuring the skin and only keep the ice on your back for 15-20 minutes at a time.