If you find that you’re suffering from lower back pain after cleaning your house or performing general, day to day tasks, then maybe you should stop and think about your posture and your flexibility. Back pain isn’t normal. It’s not something that happens just because you’re getting older. It’s something that happens because your body is trying to tell you that there’s something else wrong.
Back pain can be caused by some problems. A weak core, tight hamstrings, damage to the discs or poor posture are some of the most common causes. You can manage lower back pain with rest, painkillers, and exercises to try to restore normal range of motion, but you should always try to protect your back and prevent the pain from coming back.
Most people will experience a little bit of back pain at some point – either because they tweaked their back lifting something heavy or twisting in an awkward way, or because they sat in an awkward position for a long time, perhaps on an airplane or when they were making some other journey.
When you experience pain, the first thing you should do is stop whatever activity is causing the pain. Try to lie down in a neutral position, and rest. Take an anti-inflammatory painkiller if you can (either diclofenac, or ibuprofen, depending on which you can tolerate), and rest until the pain goes away. If it’s a one-off occurrence, then it’s nothing too much to worry about. If, however, you experience back pain on a regular basis then you should start to question what may be causing it.
The symptoms of back pain can vary. If the pain is accompanied by a shooting pain, numbness or tingling in the legs, then you may have sciatica. This is caused by something impinging on the lower back and putting pressure on the nerves in the spinal cord. It is a good idea to talk to your doctor to try to figure out how to manage this pain. Usually, sciatica can be managed quite well if it is treated early on.
Preventing Back Pain
Good postures are one of the most important precautions that a person can take to prevent back pain from getting worse. A lot of people develop back problems because they spend so much time slouched in front of a computer.
Another thing that can cause back issues is tight hamstrings, which can, in turn, be caused by a weak core and weak glutes. If these muscles are weak, then the hip flexors will take over a lot of day to day activities, and this causes the hamstrings to tighten up, therefore increasing the stress put on the lower back. Strengthening your glutes, TVA, abs and obliques will do a lot for improving your posture and helping you to remain limber and flexible.
Whatever you do, it’s important that you don’t fall back into the habit of taking painkillers to mask back pain, but not treating the underlying cause. If you are struggling with sciatica or lower back pain, talk to your doctor or see a physiotherapist. Be more mindful of your posture during the day, and think about your habits at work and in the gym.
If you carry heavy loads, make sure you use good form. Use a backpack on both shoulders rather than a messenger bag slung over one shoulder. If you lift weights, make sure that you keep your spine in a neutral position. Sit up straight when you are driving or working at a computer, and make sure that your chair is properly adjusted. All those things make a difference.
Most back pain can be managed with physiotherapy and rest. Degenerative conditions are a more serious issue, and they could cause longer-lasting or even chronic pain, but again there are often ways that you can mitigate the effects of the condition if you exercise and look after yourself.
Building up the core muscles will help to stop your spine from being put under so much stress, and will support better flexion and rotation. Stretches, bridges, and back bends can help to keep you limber too. Another important thing for managing back pain is maintaining a healthy weight. The heavier you are, the more stress you end up putting on your spine, and it can make minor injuries feel an awful lot worse.
If you have children, teach them how to sit properly and get them into the habit of carrying their school bags properly as well. They may not feel like it is important now, while they are still young, but it will get them into good habits that will last a lifetime, and it will save them from difficult and painful back problems as they head into middle age and older.