Many of us have experienced back pain at some point in our lives, and it’s one of the most common complaints in the patients we treat. There are various reasons why you may be feeling pain in your lower back specifically, from sciatica to a recent injury. We often see patients who suffer from back pain that seems to have no identifiable cause (such as injury or an underlying health issue); we call this ‘non-specific back pain’.
Non-specific back pain can be experienced as short flare-ups or a consistent pain that lasts weeks, and can keep you from enjoying your usual hobbies, affect your ability to work, and even interfere with your sleep. The main thing to remember is that it won’t last forever - most non-specific back pain will ease within 4-6 weeks. That doesn’t mean that you must wait it out: there are several things you can do to proactively alleviate back pain during a flare-up, and these are also worth practicing to keep pain from reoccurring (or happening in the first place).
Read on for our top tips to ease lower back pain, and prevent it from happening in the first place:
1. Keep active
This is an important practice for a healthy and balanced body for all of us, but particularly if your job involves lots of sitting which can put a strain on your spine and lower back. If you’re sitting for long periods of time at work, try to get up every 30 minutes or so for a short walk or stretch - even just a stroll around the office!
Activities that move your spine through its full range of motion (such as yoga or dance) are particularly beneficial, but all types of exercise will keep your joints mobile, so just try to find an activity that you enjoy, and that keeps your heart rate up.
2. Strengthen your muscles
While cardiovascular exercise will keep you fit and healthy, it’s also important to strengthen your muscles, particularly your back and core muscles, as these support your spine. There are lots of great videos online that’ll give you a short routine you can do a few times a week to strengthen and activate these muscles, or see your friendly Camden Physiotherapist or Osteopath for an exercise plan tailored specifically to you. As well as improving your strength and overall health, you’ll also see an improvement in your posture.
If you suffer from an injury or are new to strength training, an exercise class or one-to-one session led by a qualified instructor is a great way to learn how to perform movements safely and effectively.
3. Notice your posture
Maintaining good posture throughout your day when walking, sitting and standing will keep your spine in correct alignment and avoid putting excess strain on your joints, ligaments, tendons and muscles. This is especially important when sitting at a desk or computer at work, as many of us are inclined to slouch towards a computer screen.
Generally speaking, good posture should maintain the natural curve of your spine, with head above shoulders, and tops of shoulders above hips.
Booking a session with a licensed Osteopath is a great way to learn what good posture should look like for you, as this will look and feel slightly different for all of us!
Holding habitual tension can have a long-term effect on our muscles, especially in your back and shoulders. Try to be mindful of how your body is reacting when you’re feeling stressed or worried, and take a moment to consciously relax your body. Perhaps you contract your abdominal muscles or tense your neck or jaw. When you notice this tension, try taking a deep breath in, and then a long breath out, melting your shoulders away from your ears.
5. Get a treatment plan
Having a tailored treatment plan to follow will not only help to reduce the length of time that your back pain lasts and improve your physical symptoms, but it can also improve how you feel about your pain mentally. Knowing that you’re on the right path and are proactively taking steps to address your back pain can help to ease any worry and stress you might be feeling about it.
Manual therapy with an Osteopath or Physiotherapist will involve manipulating the joints and muscles to support recovery, and they can also recommend exercises to practice at home.
If you’re suffering from back pain and would like help identifying the cause and treating it, why not book a session with our friendly team of Physiotherapists and Osteopaths at one of our Camden clinics? They’ll put together a treatment plan tailored to your body and goals, and will offer support and guidance throughout your treatment.