Low Back Pain: Why You Have It, and How to Fix It

Source: Mayfield Clinic

How does the low back work?

The lumbar spine is what is most commonly referred to as the low back, and it is comprised of the last 5 vertebrae of the spine before the tailbone (sacrum). The vertebrae are stacked above each other, and there are intervertebral discs (IVDs), which are very tough fribrocartilaginous joints that can withstand a lot of bending and pressure, but if it is overdone, or a chronic issue, you may experience pain.

What causes back pain?

Back pain can be caused by anything that stresses the joint, whether a one-time stressor like lifting a heavy object incorrectly, or a chronic issue like sleeping on an uneven bed or having bad posture. Additionally, because our spine has many nerves running through it, it’s possible that an imbalance in the spinal structure can cause pain to radiate down the leg as well. This condition is known as sciatica, and is also very common among the older population. Low back pain is one of the most common pains among people in the US, and if it lasts longer than 72 hours, there might be a problem that needs immediate care.

How Can Physical Therapy Help?

Because of the sensitivity of the spine, physical therapy is usually recommended before other, more invasive procedures like surgeries or injections. If your back pain is affecting you from doing your daily activities, even if that means things like heavy lifting or sports, physical therapy can get you back into shape, or at the least help you get to doing most tasks pain-free. With mobilizations and strengthening exercises, our goal is to get you back to where you were and to get you stronger, and to advance with proper mechanics so that we can avoid this issue in the future.

What can I do to help myself?

Improve your posture

Posture is something that is always present, and if your back is not aligned, and your spine is out of line with your shoulders and hips, you might be experiencing pain. Align your posture by making sure your shoulders aren’t rounded, and stacking your shoulders above your spine, and above your hips, all in one vertical line. Note that this proper posture is even more important when sitting, because just having shoulders rounded can cause this system to go out of whack.

Exercise

There are many exercises that can help low back pain, but as always, don’t don’t exercise if you’re in pain. Low-impact exercises like swimming are great for keeping strong, but there are also low-back specific exercises that might help. Many people find that yoga is helpful, as this practice usually contains low-impact, slow movement, which can help improve both mobility and stability in the lower back.

Summary

  • Low back pain can be caused by many different things, but there are a few things that can always help: proper posture, stretching, and strengthening.
  • Physical therapy is one of the most common ways to relieve low back pain, and most people leave their first visit feeling better.
  • Try the exercises suggested here to help ease pain and prevent future symptoms.
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