10 Fast Facts about Lower Back Pain
The human back is an amazing structure, designed to support our spines in a natural, upright position. When we put undue stress upon its muscles, especially in the lower back area, pain eventually will manifest as a warning signal that our body is injured. For example, when you sit, or more typically slouch, for countless hours in front of your work desk, day in and day out, bad physical outcomes will probably result, including lower back pain. Additionally, a traumatic spinal injury in your past, such as a serious car accident, predisposes you to be more vulnerable to lower back pain, while placing you at a higher risk to suffer from its effects.
Every year in this country, 31 million of us suffer from the nagging symptoms of lower back pain and, eventually, it will impact over 80% of our population. Underlying conditions, many of them due to aging, also exacerbate the impact of low back pain, with one example being osteoarthritis, a very common malady. But the good news is that there are many ways to help alleviate the discomfort of low back pain, while further reducing the probability itself that another flare-up will occur.
Having made that point, now we are now going to investigate 10 quick facts about lower back pain, and how you, as a sufferer, can help reduce your odds that it will strike again, while also arming you with the necessary tools to relieve the severity when it does present.
1.) Underlying Conditions Precipitate Lower Back Pain Issues
Several medical conditions, according to WebMD, may act as causal factors, while inducing periodic lower back pain occurrences. WebMD points out that if you have been diagnosed with, or experienced, one or more of these issues you have a higher risk for lower back pain itself:
- A herniated disc in your spine
- A traumatic spinal injury such as a car accident or fall
- Back surgery in the past
- Certain viral or bacterial infections
- Feeling stressed out
Bottom line: If you have been diagnosed with, or exposed to, any of these predictive influences for developing lower back pain, be advised that you should consider preventative measures against back pain; ones that will be covered as this article continues.
2.) Poor Lifestyle Choices Feed Lower Back Pain
As is the case with any other chronic condition we humans deal with, certain lifestyle choices can have a positive, or negative, effect on the severity and longevity of that specific medical problem. Lower back pain is no exception, and experts in this field have determined that a number of lifestyle choices can exacerbate the onset and severity of lower back pain flare-ups. Those include:
- Smoking tobacco
- Not exercising routinely
- Drinking alcohol to excess
- Eating a poor diet
- Being exposed to a high level of stress
None of the above are really a surprise, but they are important when it comes to combat lower back pain if your goal is to reduce the recurrences and symptomatic severity when it does strike. And, who doesn’t want that?
3.) Getting a Good Night’s Sleep Helps Put Lower Back Pain to Rest
Our bodies and minds run much more effectively when we get 7 to 8 hours of shut eye per night. As we sleep, damaged areas of our bodies undergo natural repair activities, and lower back pain is no exception. While asleep, we also aren’t cognitive of stress in our lives, are more relaxed as a result, which further leads to a relieving of tightness in our back and neck muscles.
Tight muscles may precipitate weakened and damaged tissues, one of the factors that can aggravate back pain problems. In addition, while lying down we typically stretch out our back’s 120 different muscles, something that doesn’t occur when we are scrunched down for 8 or more hours in a chair. What’s the secret to a better night’s sleep? A good, firm mattress and a dark, quiet sleeping environment combine to make a big difference.
4.) Strong Core Muscles Build a Better Case Against Lower Back Pain
Your body’s core muscle groups are found in your trunk and spine regions. When they are weak, the result is less support to your spine, one of the causative factors for lower back pain. A wide variety of core muscle strengthening exercises are available, including things like:
- Swimming and other forms of aqua therapy
- Light weight-lifting training
- Planking, full-body rollups and pelvic tilts
The key to relieving low back issues with these forms of exercise are actually doing them, and on a regular basis to ensure a continued level of improved core muscle strength. As a rule, by building up your core body muscles, your back will thank you in the end!
5.) Walk Your Way to a Healthier Lower Back
Walking is one of the easiest and least-damaging, to joints and bones, forms of exercise out there. Taking a nice, long 2 to 3 mile walk at least 3X per week leads to a healthier and happier back. Walking has been found to reduce stress, which can tighten susceptible muscles tissues, and it also gently stretches out muscle fibers, relieving pressure and encouraging healing. And finally, walking also has been scientifically proven to stimulate better oxygen and blood flow to injured muscles, which exacerbate the repair process. All in all, walking is a simple, relaxing and inexpensive method of reducing back pain problems!
6.) A Good Stretch Per Day Helps Keep the (Back) Doctor Away
Another easy way to live more back pain-free is by stretching and, doing so at least daily. Even when you are cooped up in an office, for example, take some time during your work breaks to employ some simple back pressure-relieving stretches. Stretching has also been linked to reduced back pain via its likelihood in improving your flexibility and mobility, along with strengthening back muscle tissues in general. Want to keep the back doctor away? Take a few minutes before, during and after work to also “work in” some quality stretching time. You’ll be glad you did!
7.) Feeding Your Back Well Lowers Your Pain Probability
It’s common sense that the better our diets, the healthier our bodies will be, and your back is not excluded from this rule. Nutritional studies have found that there are several critical vitamins, most of which our normal daily intakes are deficient in, that enhance your body’s ability to repair damaged lower back muscles. These encompass the following:
- Vitamin B12: Used to improve overall spine health, along with nerve repair and blood cell production
- Vitamin A: Assists your body with injured muscle repairs
- Vitamin C: Helps strengthen bodily tissues, including in your lower back, while promoting new collagen formation, which is then used to build new tissues
There’s an old adage that “you are what you eat”, and for most people in today’s world, on-the-go while grabbing fast food when they can, the prognosis for faster lower back pain relief does not look good. It’s “garbage in, garbage out”, as the old saying goes. Feed your body nutritious foods that it truly wants, filled with the vitamins listed above, and it will reward you with a healthier back, among other things.
8.) Stress Out Your Back Muscles and They Will Stress You Back
As was mentioned above, stress is one of the accentuating factors for an increased level of lower back pain. Stress causes the afflicted muscles to tense up, further damaging already injured tissues, while also interfering with the healing process itself.
To overcome your mental and physical stress, there are so many methodologies out there to relieve the pressure it brings, such as:
- Walking for 20 or more minutes, at least 3X per week
- Participating in yoga and other meditative forms of relaxation
- Swimming as water has a natural soothing effect on our bodies
- Finding a job that is less stressful
Now the last recommendation may be a difficult one to do for most of us, especially if we’ve landed a good employment opportunity. However, the other three certainly are doable, and there’s really no excuse to not implement them, as you travel down-the-road to a more lower back pain-free life!
9.) Let Your Body be Your Guide While Relieving Lower Back Pain
The human body is comprised of about 70% water. So, doesn’t it make sense that our bodies crave that liquid and therefore that it might be a good therapy to employ when addressing lower back pain problems? Various forms of aqua therapy exist, including swimming or aerobic water classes. The main benefit that exercising in water has when you are in the middle of a lower back pain flare-up is that it supports your weight by overcoming gravity.
When that happens, pressure is naturally diverted away from your tense and inflamed muscle tissues, allowing your body to much more effectively repair damaged areas. Water’s viscosity and buoyancy further increase your body’s overall flexibility and range-of-motion. And, the resistance offered by water’s mass gently produces a medium in which swimming or other forms of bodily exercise facilitate building and strengthening core muscle groups, another positive.
At the end of the day, listen to your body’s inherent instincts, and it will probably lead you to water.
10.) Improved Posture Promotes Positive Back Health
We humans are creatures of habit, and one of the worst habits we have, as it relates to lower back pain, is using bad posture. Look around at work someday, and you’ll notice co-workers hunched down in their seats, shoulders rounded, as they are slouched down in front of their work stations. Correcting poor posture is probably the easiest way to ward off lower back pain manifestations, while speeding up healing rates.
Back pain studies have determined that using positive posture, even at night, with your shoulders back, chin up and chest out, promotes a plethora of beneficial outcomes for injured back tissues. These are:
- Stimulates the release of natural pain killers including serotonin and endorphins
- Allows for a more efficient intake of oxygen and enhanced blood flow
- Makes you feel more self-assured, while projecting the impression to others of being more successful and confident
- Relieves pressure to afflicted and vulnerable back muscle regions
- Provides your body with more energy and vigor
- And many more beneficial outcomes!
In a nutshell, utilizing good posture throughout the day, whether sitting down or standing, goes a long way in protecting your lower back from pain reoccurrences, while also reducing the severity of flare-ups if they happen. Remember to keep your chin up, shoulders back and chest out.
Lumo Lift’s Posture Coach will Keep You Focused
We get so caught up in our busy lives sometimes that it simply isn’t possible to exercise or diet properly. Referring to our list above, it was pointed out that probably the least labor and time intensive method available in the battle against lower back pain is employing proper posture all day (and night) long. At Lumo, we’ve developed an amazing and simple-to-use, high-tech device that reminds you when your posture is incorrect.
Called the Lumo Lift, it consists of a wearable sensor, about the size of a lapel pin, that continuously and discretely records your body posture information, stores the data, and then allows you to access your body’s statistics. In addition, whenever your posture is poor, like when slouching occurs, the Posture Coach will alert you with a gentle vibration.
In the end, the Lumo Lift Posture Coach works just like having your own, inexpensive personal trainer with you everywhere you go! It’s an encouraging and effective, posture-correcting resource as we strive at Lumo to make the world a more back healthy place, one person at a time!