If you suffer from lower back pain, you’re definitely not alone.
In fact, experts estimate that up to 80% of the population will experience lower back pain at some point in their lives. Back pain can affect people of all ages, and it’s the third most common reason for visits to the doctor.
The good news is, most cases of lower back pain are acute: short-term back pain that may only last a few days to a few weeks. With proper self-care, this type of back pain can resolve on its own. Certain exercises can even ease that pain and help you start feeling better.
Lower back pain can feel different from everyone. It may feel like a dull, constant ache, or a sudden sharp pain.
Most acute low back pain is mechanical in nature. That means the components of the lower back — the spine, muscles, intervertebral discs, and nerves — have been disrupted. When they don’t fit together or move the way they used to, back pain can occur. And these disruptions can happen in all sorts of ways.
Your joints, bones, and discs in the spine naturally experience wear-and-tear as you grow older. The discs that cushion the vertebrae in your spine may thin and lose flexibility. Arthritis can cause inflammation of the vertebrae. Muscles in your back lose elasticity and bone strength weakens, too. All of these factors can increase the risk for low back pain.
Traumatic injuries, like car accidents, falls, or playing sports, can damage the back and cause pain. Lower back pain can also arise from twisting, bending, or lifting something heavy. You might sprain or strain your back, or experience back spasms.
Back pain can be more common among people who are overweight or aren’t physically fit. A sedentary lifestyle, poor posture, and low physical activity can set the stage for lower back pain.
Lower back pain can even occur if you exercise strenuously on the weekends after being inactive all week! You’re less likely to experience back pain if you include regular, moderate physical activity in your everyday routine.
In my experience treating patients with lower back pain, I find that many have limitations in their thorax (mid back) and hips. When they’re required to twist, bend, or lift during normal daily activities, these limitations shift all the required movement to their lower back. Over time, this can take its toll on the lower back.
Strengthening your core can prevent that stress on your back. You’ve probably heard that term before in fitness classes: “core stability,” “trunk stabilization,” or “core muscle activation,” for example.
Core strength plays an important role in reducing the likelihood of lower back pain. When combined with core-strengthening exercises, you can build a strong, stable lower back and alleviate lower back pain.
There are plenty of stretches you can do to ease lower back pain, and we’re happy to teach them to you! But it’s even more important to work your core and improve your hip and thoracic mobility to prevent lower back pain in the future. These exercises can reduce the likelihood of lower back pain, improve your posture, and improve the efficiency of how you move.
If you’d like more advice on alleviating and preventing lower back pain, let’s talk! Call Pilates in the Grove for a free 15-minute telehealth consultation.