6 simple tips to help with lower back pain
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GOLD COAST BLOG
Dr. Paul Fisher
Lower back pain is probably the number one complaint we get here in the office and it’s actually considered the number one cause of disability in the entire world. It’s something that can completely overshadow the rest of your life if you don’t take care of it, so it’s worth focusing on doing what needs to be done to keep your lower back in good shape.
We’re mostly worried about the lower back here, otherwise known as the lumbar spine because those five bones are a really important area that supports almost half your bodyweight. Any problems in this area are going to create other problems that compound over time and degrade your quality of life. It’s also important to understand that your lower back is designed mostly for strength, not mobility. The goal isn’t for this area to be super flexible. Most of the mobility should be coming from the hips. You’re really aiming for strength in the lower back, with the mobility coming from other places.
So, what can we do about it?
In this article, we’re going to run through 6 simple things that you can do to help with lower back pain. They don’t require any equipment or much time at all – they just need to be done consistently in order to see results.
Most of us spend way too much time hunched over a desk or a cell phone and our posture suffers as a result. One of the first and easiest things that you can work on is getting the posture right. When you are bent over on your phone or laptop, you are putting lots of extra pressure on the back. As you extend your lower back further and further in a curved position, your disc gets heavier and heavier – and that can lead to problems over time. So it’s really worth trying to keep a good, upright posture at all times.
2. Moving Positions
The next tip is to be continuously shifting positions if you can. We weren’t designed to sit in one position for hours at a time so whatever you can do to mix things up is very beneficial. Many people have taken to standing desks which is great, as long as you have the right posture as you do so. You can have a standing desk but still be hunched over, causing the same problems you’re trying to fix. So be wary of that.
But you don’t need to go out and buy a standing desk necessarily. All we’re looking for is variety in the positioning. The most important thing is to be cycling through these positions and not just sitting for hours at a time in one position. This could be something as simple as getting up every 20 minutes or so to take a quick walk around the office or the kitchen table. Anything you can do to break the monotony and get the body moving is going to be helpful.
When it comes to building strength in the lower back, one of the easiest and most useful exercises you can do is the plank. By doing a traditional plank position on the floor for 30-60 seconds is a great way to build core strength which is really going to help with the lower back. You can do it on your center, and to each side to mix things up. This shouldn’t take you more than 3 minutes in total, making it quick and simple to do without needing any equipment. It’s even something you could do in the middle of the day at work in your office. It’s a good way to activate your body, get the blood moving, and build strength at the same time.
If you’re not physically capable of doing the plank on the floor, you can still do an adapted version up against the wall and slowly working down. We’ve seen great results from our older patients who do this one – so there is really no excuse here.
4. Hip Mobility
We mentioned above that the mobility should be coming from your hips and there are exercises you can do in that regard to improve that aspect. The simplest way is to do hip opening and closing exercises. Lift your knee up to your chest, rotate it to the side and then drop it again. You can repeat on both sides, as well as reversing direction to open and close the hip. All in all this doesn’t take more than 5 minutes and it can have huge benefits for your lower back because of the improved mobility.
5. Health and Wellness
An unfortunate fact to note is that if you’re carrying extra weight, it is going to put extra pressure on your lower back and create a lot of inflammatory chemicals that makes any problem worse. As a result, looking after your general health and wellness is something that will have a significant impact on any lower back pain because you’ll be in better shape and at a healthier weight. In addition, this will also help with mental health because one of the biggest precursors for Alzheimer’s is excess belly fat. The healthier you are, the less strain you’ll be placing on your physical and mental health.
6. Go for Walks
The last tip is to try and go for a short walk every day. Ideally this should be around 15-30 minutes but any physical activity you can do to get your body out and moving will be very beneficial. The more you can do this outside in nature, without your phone, the better. It’s not only good for your body to exercise and for things to move, but also for your mind to quiet. Walks are fantastic tools for giving us a few moments of peace. This is especially true for those with chronic pain because sometimes we get so focused on what’s wrong that we have a hard time seeing what’s right. This time outside and active doesn’t need to be extensive or beyond your capabilities. If you have a tough time walking long distances, smart small and every day do just a little bit more than the day before.
There you have it, 6 simple ways to help your lower back pain without having to get hold of any fancy equipment or carve out hours of your day. If you can just focus on these small changes, you’ll find that your back is much better shape than you could have ever imagined.
Small hinges swing big doors. Little changes can make big differences.
Dr. Paul Fisher