Lower back pain is a common cause of absenteeism and is the second most common reason for visits to the doctor’s office. As is commonly known now 70-80% of us will experience it at some point of our life. In clinic our numbers reflect these numbers also. It's so prevalent within our society. This blog I hope will help you to understand why you might have lower back pain and present you with some of our go to stretches that we prescribe in clinic to help relieve it.
Back pain can be a little bit of a nuisance, or it can completely incapacitate you. It might be sharp and stabbing, or dull and throbbing. It may be localised to one spot (i.e., in your lower back), or it could radiate outward into other parts of your body. The intensity of the pain can range from mildly irritating to completely debilitating— there are many factors that can contribute to this pain range. From the obvious such as the severity of the injury, how you did it, what the problem is right through to considerations such as, how you slept last night, lifestyle factors and even your body composition.
As you can see, there’s a lot that goes into back pain in terms of how bad it is, how long it lasts and how much trouble it causes you when trying to go about your daily life without being able to function properly!
Common Causes of Lower Back Pain
Common causes of back pain are again vast and complex however the common issues include poor posture, improper body mechanics, arthritis, muscle strain,
intervertebral disc degeneration and carrying excessive weight.
Poor posture can affect the alignment of your spine and lead to injury or irritation in certain areas. Improper body mechanics can also cause pain by bending or stretching muscles in a way they aren't used to.
The classic example that we see in clinic is individuals presenting with faulty mechanics that they have then applied to their fitness routines. From just plain running right through to group fitness classes or crossfit style workouts. When your movement mechanics are faulty to begin with, your brain is always going to be sensitive to excessive load, intensity or training volumes. Lower back pain is often the brains way of just saying "I don't like the way you're doing this".
As you get older, the discs between vertebrae begin to wear out which may result in pressure on nerves causing pain when sitting or getting up from a chair. The bones themselves can also become arthritic due to wear-and-tear over time leading them not being able to move as freely as they once did resulting in some joints becoming stiffer than others causing uneven stress on other parts like nerves, ligaments & tendons.
Stretches for Lower Back Pain
It first has to be said that although useful stretches are a band aid for lower back pain. They do a great job at providing mild relief to the areas that are stressed, inflamed and most likely neurally over active.
As I said however, they are a band aid and not the long term solution. That can be found in a combination of strength, stability and neural re-patterning. This is for another blog however that you can find here.
Right now we are here to give you some immediate relief from the constant dull ache of sharp jabbing pain.
If you have lower back pain, it's very important that you don't overstretch during these exercises. When stretching, ease up if you feel any pain or discomfort in your lower back. If a stretch causes more than mild discomfort in your lower back, either avoid it or stop altogether until such time as the discomfort goes away completely! Additionally, if doing one of these stretches causes too much pain in your lower back area - even after easing into it slowly - stop immediately! It's better to be safe than sorry when dealing with a painful condition like this one; listening carefully to what our bodies tell us about whether or not something is safe for us can make all the difference between having continued problems or getting better quickly (or both).
Remember to breath deeply with control during these stretches as this will help to keep the mind calm as you gently challenge your neuromuscular system.
Banded Hip Mobility Flow
In this exercise you can do this little combination with or workout a band. I obviously recommend with a band as it brings additional benefits to the arthokinematics of the hip joint.
By freeing up your hips and improving the mobility there you take the pressure off your lumbar.
This exercise is traditionally prescribed to clients with Sciatic nerve issues. However lower back dysfunction is so often closely tied to sciatic nerve issues. The nerve flossing aspect of this exercise will only assist any nerve pain that's being experienced in the lumbar region.
Lying Lumbar Twists
Feel free to take your time with this exercise, you don't need to go all the way down on your first attempt. Just little rotations initially will most likely challenge you enough. As you get more confident with the movement you can increase the range. Because of the extra perceived threat on the brains part with this exercise, be sure to keep your core engaged while doing it.
Lower back pain can be a debilitating condition, but it is often curable with the proper treatment and prevention. As a therapist it's one of the most rewarding conditions to treat because it literally changes a persons life. Stretching is effective tool to provide pain relief for lower back pain.
Try these stretches yourself (and our strength exercises). If after a few weeks you are still struggling with lower back pain markers, be sure to come into clinic and see one of our therapists. They will be able to work out what the underlying causes are and get you back moving pain free again.