5 Tips to Managing Chronic Lower Back Pain

Do you experience an ache in your lower back either some or all the time? Aches and pains in our lower back is something that will affect most of us at some stage during the course of our lives. So many more of our jobs and hobbies involve chronic sitting nowadays, which is a contributing factor for the majority of us. Want to learn some quick and easy tips that might help keep that back pain at bay? Well then keep reading!

1. Aerobic Exercise

It’s official: the cheapest and easiest way to dampen down these long-term back aches is to take regular aerobic exercise. In research from as recent as May 2015, aerobic exercise has been shown to diminish pain and improve physiological and psychological functioning in people with chronic lower back pain. Walking, jogging, running, sports and swimming are all possible ways to get this exercise. With any of these, you should aim to elevate your heart rate considerably, to approximately 130-160 beats per minute. If you don’t elevate your heart rate enough, you won’t experience the beneficial effects we’re looking for, so don’t be afraid to pick up the pace!

For information on exercise fitness testing, including getting your individual heart rate targets, click here!

For information on our signature Aerobic Theraband Classes which address all your aerobic fitness requirements, click here.

 

2. Stretch

It’s common when we assess people with chronic lower back pain to find a couple of muscles that are not as loose as they should be. The most common of these is the hamstring muscle group. Incorporating daily hamstring stretches into your regular routine is something you can easily start doing today and you might start seeing immediate results too. When doing these stretches, you should stretch the hamstrings for 30 seconds and perform stretches 3 times on each leg. You can choose either method below, I prefer the second method personally as I find it more effective.

3. Strengthen

Very often during assessment we also find that particular muscles are weaker than they should be. These muscles should be offering physical support but because they are too weak, your back is put under increased pressure. Two muscle groups in particular we look at are your Gluteal and Abdominal muscle groups. Here’s one exercise to strengthen each of these particular groups. When doing these exercises, you should aim to do them for 60-90 seconds each time, and repeat each exercise twice.

a) 4 Point Kneeling Exercise – Strengthen Abdominal Muscle Group by lifting opposite arms and legs, swapping from side to side every 5 seconds.4 pt kneel Alt UL LL Lifts

b) Bridging Exercise – Strengthen Gleuteal Muscle GroupBridging

For information on our signature Stretching & Posture Classes which address all your stretching and postural strengthening requirements, click here!

4. Posture

In the most common type of lower back pain that we see in our clinic, bending forwards and touching your toes brings on the pain. Is this the case for you? This is generally the result of spending too much time sitting down. When sitting, your hips and lumbar spine are flexed (bent) forward which is an unnatural position for them to spend long periods of time. Adopting the following positions after a long day of work can give you instant relief and dampen down the ache of your lower back pain. You can adopt this position for 25-30 minutes in the evening time, why not do it while watching your favourite evening TV show?

Prone on Elbows

5. Physiotherapy

Well yeah, of course I’m going to say that! But seriously, if you’re experiencing back pain it could be for any number of reasons, I’ve just talked about the most common form in the above article. Your physiotherapist will be able to identify the cause of your back pain and develop a targeted management plan that may involve spinal mobilisations and therapeutic massage as well as some or all of the below. If the above tips didn’t work for you, if your back pain is travelling down into your legs and/or if your experiencing neurological symptoms (pins & needles or loss of sensation) you should definitely see a physiotherapist.

To arrange an appointment with us in our Sandyford clinic, click here for details.

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8 thoughts on “5 Tips to Managing Chronic Lower Back Pain

  1. I’m surprised that you have running and jogging listed as good exercises to reduce back pain. Often my back hurts more after I have gone on a run. Does this mean that I should get more shock absorbent shoes or inserts? Personally, I like swimming best. It is good aerobic exercise and doesn’t put much, if any, stress on my lower back.

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    1. Hi James, thanks for your comment. Generally speaking walking and jogging helps lower back pain but not in all cases. If you’re getting lower back pain during or after jogging/running then it’s a good time to go see a specialist. You might have an acute injury that needs to be managed, or you might have a chronic disc issue which is aggravated by the increased loading on your spine experienced during running. I’m glad to hear that you find swimming beneficial though, I’ve always found that really effective when my upper or lower back is in a spasm or giving me aches. Thanks, Seán

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  2. I was rear ended about a year and a half ago. It totaled my car and left me with some moderate whiplash and lower back pain. I found that ensuring my monitor height at work was correct was essential for me to maintain good posture for a significant part of my day. I also have to keep a regular stretch routine at work and after I exercise to ensure that my hips stay loose. I’ll have to try your strengthening exercises to see if they can help me. Thanks for your article.

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    1. Hi Alex, thanks for your comment. I’m sorry to hear about your accident, I hope you’ve recovered well from it. Stretching is so important for your lower back and I’m delighted to hear that you have a regular stretch routine. Strengthening the muscles in your abdomen is also important – when these muscles are stronger they effectively take some of the weight off your spine/lower back and also can help improve your posture, particularly around your lower back and pelvis. Let me know how you get on with the strengthening exercises. Thanks, Seán

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  3. Thank you for your suggestion. My mom is a lower back pain patient. She suffers for last 15 years. We have consulted with doctors too and they prescribe Calcium, Vit-D, Iron capsule. But still she doesn’t recover. Could you give me any suggestion what should I do now?

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    1. Hi Tash, thanks for your comment. I am sorry to hear your mother has been suffering with lower back pain for such a long time. The first thing I recommend is getting assessed by either a doctor or a physiotherapist, preferably a physiotherapist. I also recommend that she tries some of the exercises and techniques I talk about in the article. If some/any of these are NOT painful, then I recommend trying to do them every second day and see if they help improve her situation. Thanks, Sean

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  4. I really like your suggestion of working on your posture to help relieve that pain. Ever since I was little I’ve dealt with back pain, and I know that stretching can help, but I don’t usually pay much attention to my posture. This is something I really need to work on, I can see the benefits of it. It could make a big difference for the aches and pains.

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    1. Hi Jackie, thanks for your comment. It’s true, people don’t always think of posture as a contributing factor to lower back pain but it undoubtedly plays a role. In fact, in a lot of cases prolonged poor postures and positions are the main cause, and need to be combated either directly (reducing the amount of time spent sitting) or indirectly (through increasing the amount of exercise). Thanks, Sean

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