Consider that your spine is the foundational structure of your entire body, and much of this enormous workload falls to one small area — your lower back. This area of your back is not only responsible for much of your body’s support and mobility, it also provides a wide range of motion, which leaves it vulnerable to injury and wear-and-tear problems.
At Texas Spine Consultants, spine specialist Dr. Michael Ware Hennessy and our team understand all too well the effect that lower back pain can have on your life. While we offer many options for treating lower back pain, there’s much you can do at home to find relief, starting with these five suggestions.
1. Mind your posture
The human body is designed for many things, but long hours seated in a chair isn’t one of them. Our increasingly sedentary lifestyles, hunched over at desks and in front of screens, can wreak havoc on our backs if we aren’t paying close attention to posture.
If you want to do your lower back a favor, be mindful of your posture, which means:
- Keeping your back flat up against the back of the chair
- Placing both feet flat on the ground
- Sitting with your shoulders back
- Keeping your screen at eye level
If you spend much of your day standing, you’d also do well to mind your posture by keeping your back straight and shoulders back.
2. Strengthen back and front
While your spine is your foundational support, there are plenty of supportive players that shoulder some of the burden — namely your core muscles.
To ensure that these supporting players are providing optimal support, try and add strengthening exercises to your daily routine. This means not only addressing the muscles in your lower back but your abdominal muscles in front, as well. By offering your spine front-to-back support, you can take some of the pressure off your hard-working vertebrae and discs. (We’d be happy to supply you with a list of great exercises.)
3. Stretch it out
Whether you stand or sit for large chunks of time, take frequent breaks to move and stretch. We recommend that you get up from your chair at least every hour and spend five minutes stretching out the connective tissues in your lower back (simply touching your toes does the trick nicely).
One of the best ways to stretch out your entire body is through a practice like yoga, which focuses on both strength and flexibility.
4. Turn up the heat
If you feel your lower back getting tight or achy, try delivering heat to relieve the tension. You can do this using an over-the-counter gel pack that you can throw in the microwave to heat up and then apply the pack for about 10-20 minutes every hour. Your local pharmacy will also have specially designed heat patches that accomplish the same effect — some even come with a topical anesthetic to provide more relief.
5. Lose weight
Our musculoskeletal structures are only designed to carry so much weight, so when you add to this burden, it can easily place too much stress on areas like your lower back.
If you endeavor to lose just 10% of your body weight through diet and exercise, not only will you ease your back pain, you’ll be doing a world of good for every other area of your health, including your all-important cardiovascular health.
If you’d like to learn more about which lifestyle modifications will ease your lower back pain, please contact one of our two offices in Addison or Plano, Texas, to set up an appointment.