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!
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.
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.
b) Bridging Exercise – Strengthen Gleuteal Muscle Group
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?
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.