If you’re sitting down to treat your lower back pain, there is only one thing I can tell you: get up now. There are much more effective back pain treatments that can help prevent it from reoccurring.
Back Pain Is Crippling America: You Are Not Alone
About 80% of Americans will experience a bout of lower back pain in their lives, usually causing a major disruption. And if it happens once, its likelihood of returning is pretty high. You can probably relate.
But if you sink into the sofa for days on end to rest your back, you’ll only make things worse. You see, the longer you sit and remain inactive, the weaker your back gets. The end result is that your back becomes less resistant to future activity and then it’s harder to get through normal life without pain recurrence. In fact, about 75% of Americans who experience back pain suffer from a recurrence within a year—something known as the “spiral of decline.”
Now, you may be saying to yourself that your sore back is just a reality you’ve got to deal with. After all, there might not be any specific issue you can point to that caused it. But generally speaking, that’s very common. Most of the time the underlying cause of lower back pain is unknown; not from a specific event like shoveling snow or an injury you sustained.
Many Back Pain Treatments Ineffective, Study Shows
You may have resorted to wearing orthotics or a back support belt or making some lifestyle changes—only to realize that these weren’t really helping. Well, a major analysis of 23 studies featuring over 30,000 patients found that those methods are virtually ineffective for treating and preventing lower back pain. They did find, however, that exercise is vastly effective. Exercise was able to cut recurrence rates by almost half—a whopping 45%.
How to Get Back Pain Relief
Exercise—no matter what kind you do—strengthens your back and core muscles to keep your body healthy and pain-free. This is true whether or not you directly target your back. The stronger your core muscles are, the less likely pain will strike back. All you need to do are two to three exercise sessions per week (i.e. aerobics, walking, or resistance training) for about two months and you can prevent recurrences for about a year!
And if you continue exercising year-round, you can likely prevent recurrences for much longer. The lead researcher of the JAMA review said that the reason people experience recurrences after one year is that they’ve stopped exercising.
If you’ve recently hurt your back or are experiencing back pain, go out for a walk or perform some other form of light physical activity to keep the muscles engaged. From there, move on to balance exercises. For example, try standing on one leg, and eventually work your way toward lateral plank walking. Start in a high plank position. Your hips should face the ground with your shoulders above your wrists. Keep your abs tight! For one full rep, step with your right foot and right hand to the right side and then immediately follow with your left foot and left hand toward your left side.
It’s highly recommended you consult your doctor about the pain to see if they can put you in touch with a physiotherapist or a personal trainer to provide you with a program.
Related Article: Lower Back Pain on the Left Side
Sources for Today’s Article:
Reynolds, G., “To Prevent Back Pain, Orthotics Are Out, Exercise Is In,” New York Times web site, January 27, 2016; http://mobile.nytimes.com/blogs/well/2016/01/27/to-prevent-back-pain-orthotics-are-out-exercise-is-in/
Steffens, D., et al., “Prevention of Low Back Pain: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis,” JAMA Internal Medicine, 2016; Jan 11:1-10. doi: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2015.7431.