You’ve been sitting at your office workstation all morning, intently finishing up an important client’s project. Getting up to take a well-deserved break, you nearly shout out in pain, as you are greeted by a sharp twinge or the dull throbbing ache of lower back pain.
You are certainly not alone in this – as most of us will eventually suffer from the common curse of lower back pain.
The symptoms can be temporary or permanent, and persistent lower back pain is usually due to aging, overuse, or some past trauma – like a car accident, fall, or sports injury.
Once a person is afflicted, medical experts agree that poor posture can aggravate lower back pain. Today’s lifestyles and occupational settings don’t help, further exposing these problems to countless daily hours standing, slouched in front of a computer, or crammed behind a vehicle’s wheel.
There is a solution, and it starts with understanding your lower back pain and how you can help it.
Understanding Acute vs. Chronic Lower Back Pain
Medically, there are two types of lower back pain: acute and chronic.
Acute, as the name suggests, is short term, lasting for less than three months at a time. Acute lower back pain may flare-up in situations such as during an expectant mother’s pregnancy, or when you decide to spend several hours one sunny day doing yard work while bending uncomfortably from the waist.
Lower back pain is your body’s way of alerting you that stress from overuse has taken place to your lower spine’s surrounding muscles, tendons and ligaments.
Chronic (persistent) lower back pain lingers for more than 90 days and is caused by more serious, underlying conditions. According to WebMD, these causative factors may include:
- Herniated discs
- Compression fractures
- Persistent overuse, strain or injury
- Prior back surgery
Both chronic and acute lower back pain may also be accentuated by poor posture, and especially over extended periods of time, which we will address more in a moment.
These Factors can Exacerbate Lower Back Pain
WebMD further identifies these lifestyle characteristics which are risk factors for intensifying a sufferer’s existing lower back pain, or causing it to reappear over time:
- Not exercising and strengthening core trunk muscles regularly
- Doing a job that requires heavy lifting, long intervals of standing or sitting, or repetitive motions that involve bending and twisting of the body
- Smoking tobacco products
- Being subjected to a lot of stress
- Having poor posture
Looking at WebMD’s list, the easiest of these to correct appears to be the last one; addressing your poor posture.
In fact, studies have found that improving your posture not only can help reduce back pain, but also lower stress, and make you feel and appear more successful, healthy and energetic! Furthermore, there is evidence that using proper posture may even lead to a happier life.
Treating Lower Back Pain Includes Using Proper Posture
According to the well-respected Mayo Clinic’s website, there are a number of ways to treat lower back pain, including surgery, manipulating the area, and medications. Yet again, the simplest of methods they recommend may help alleviate the pain is correcting one’s posture.
Not only might proper posture help relieve the symptoms and help prevent recurrences of lower back pain episodes, but there are a number of other documented benefits derived from keeping one’s shoulders down and back, with an erect spine, and your head and chin up.
The conclusion is that your posture has a lot to answer for. Get this right, and your back will thank you.