About 80% of adult Americans experience back pain at some point in their lives. For a lucky few, these incidents are isolated and short. For others, it’s a lifelong relationship with pain management. In rare cases, there’s a physical problem about which you can do nothing.
For the majority, however, some changes to lifestyle and attention to detail can ease lower back pain. As debilitating as it can be, lower back pain is usually self-treatable and temporary. Here are eight tips to help prevent and manage pain in your lower back.
Start with the core
Your spine carries much of the load of your body, but it doesn’t have to do it alone. Any routine — whether it’s walking, weights, or yoga — that strengthens your core muscles helps to transfer some of the strain off your spine. That stops the overload that often leads to strains and herniated discs.
Watch your posture
It’s more than simply sitting up straight now and then. Give your posture thought throughout the day, whether sitting, standing, or lying down. This is another load distribution matter. Good posture ensures that weight spreads evenly through all components of your spine. That’s important too for motion, such as for lifting heavy objects.
Lose that weight
Carrying extra body weight — you guessed it — adds to the strain on your spine, particularly if your load packs on up front. Ask anyone who’s been pregnant.
Losing weight isn’t only good for your lower back; it can ease the burden on hips and knees as well. Your entire body benefits from the healthy eating and increased activity that typically generate weight-loss results.
Cool it down
Heating pads often feel good on a sore lower back, but if your pain has just emerged, put off heat therapy for a couple of days. Ice packs applied in 20-minute on/off cycles help reduce the inflammation that’s likely accompanying your pain. After two days, keep the 20-minute cycle, but alternate between ice and heat.
It’s normal when motion causes pain to stop the motion until the pain goes away. But when it comes to your lower back, you could be waiting a long time. Keep moving to get past back pain. Forego strenuous activity, of course, but keep walking at the very least. Include back-friendly stretches and you’ll move through the acute-pain stage more quickly.
Along with all the other health risks that come from smoking is an increased chance of back pain. Tobacco use reduces the efficiency of your circulatory system, the key source of nutrients necessary for the body to repair the damage causing your back pain.
If you favor heels or other footwear that puts style ahead of support, then you’re likely adding imbalances that increase strain on your lower back. Heels no higher than one inch, with solid arch support, are your best bet for lower back health.
Don’t live with pain
Most lower back issues ease after a week or two of self-care. If you’re not seeing results in that time frame, it’s time to contact Dr. Michael Hennessy at Texas Spine Consultants. We will investigate your pain thoroughly to determine its cause and potential resolutions. With two locations, we’re ready to help you. Call or click today for an appointment.