When the lower back suffers an injury, it can be extremely painful and frustrating. According to a 2020 study, lower back pain is the world’s most common cause of absence from work and it’s most common disability. Acute sufferers can suffer pain for up to 3 weeks, whilst chronic back pain lasts over 3 months on average.
Whether you are needing to treat current lower back pain, or prevent pain from occurring, there are various lower back mobility exercises that are highly effective.
But first let’s look at what Lower Back Pain is and what it’s caused from.
What does the Lower Back consist of?
The lower back is a complex structure of bones, ligaments, nerves and joints that work together to support the upper body and offer strength and flexibility. It provides mobility for everyday tasks such as bending or twisting.
What are the common symptoms of Lower Back Pain?
Symptoms of lower back pain can range from mild and tolerable, to debilitating, which seriously affects your ability to conduct basic everyday tasks. Symptoms generally occur when staying stationary for long periods, when moving or lifting.
Here are some of the common symptoms of low back pain –
- Muscle tightness or spasm
- Sharp burning pain in the back of the legs
- Tingling or numbness in lower limbs (Sciatica)
- Problems standing and walking
More serious symptoms can include the following and it is recommended to seek medical help as soon as possible –
- Pain in the legs or feet as well as back
- Changes in bowel or bladder function
- Pain is severe and doesn’t improve within 72 hrs
Types of Lower Back Pain
Mechanical Pain – is the most common cause of low back pain and is normally from loading the spine to cause injury to muscles, joints and ligaments around the spine. Pain is usually localised in the lower back or can radiate to legs and buttocks. Often affects those performing repetitive movements or tasks in their daily or work activities.
Radicular Pain – if often associated with an impinged or inflamed spinal nerve. Pain can be sharp or burning and will often cause numbness and weakness and it is usually only felt on one side of the body.
What is Lower Back Pain Caused From?
Lower back pain is usually caused from an injury but it can also be caused by other health conditions. Most acute lower back pain is generally a result of an injury to facet joints, discs, muscles or ligaments.
The most Common causes include –
- Muscle or Ligament Strains or Spasms – usually from repetitive or awkward movements/actions, or loading the spine
- Disc bulge
- Inflamed or pinched nerves
Other medical/health conditions causing lower back pain also include –
- Spine Arthritis
- Spinal Stenosis
- Sacroiliac Joint inflammation
- Skeletal irregularity
- Kidney or Bladder problems
- Ovarian cysts
- Uterine fibroids
Age is also a factor to consider. As people grow older, there is a reduced amount of fluid in between each vertebrae in the spine, and this results in the discs being more easily irritated. People often lose muscle tone also as they age, and this can cause the back to become unstable and result in injury.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Low back pain symptoms often recur. That’s why it’s so important to have a thorough examination with your Physiotherapist or other health provider, so they can understand the symptoms and find the exact cause. They will also take into your account your full medical history. From there, they can then recommend the most appropriate treatment to ensure the fastest recovery time, and the prevention of chronic lower back pain in future.
It is really important for your health professional to not only look at the pain areas, but to look at the back and spine as a whole, to determine whether a non-invasive, non-surgical option is suitable to try, before more complex surgical intervention.
Unless your symptoms are concerning or there is neurological loss, often your physiotherapist or health provider will create a treatment plan, and monitor your condition closely. Other options are to undergo imaging tests to check for –
- Bone problems
- Disc problems
- Tendons and ligaments
Treatment options include –
Important Activities to prevent recurring low back pain
In addition to the treatment you have recommended, there are 3 other important ways to help prevent low back pain in future.
- Avoid Excessive Bed Rest – Motion aids recovery when it comes to your back, so move as much as you can. Lying down for excessive periods weakens the back muscles and makes back pain worse in most cases.
- Practice Good Posture – Always practice proper posture and lifting techniques and avoid twisting motions, to help avoid further back pain.
- Strengthen your Core Muscles – Strong core muscles improve your core stability, posture and balance, and help you to avoid back problems and pain in future.
Stretches and Exercises for Lower Back Pain
Your physiotherapist can recommend a range of exercises and stretches to reduce pain and increase your lower back mobility. They should be performed as recommended, and in addition to your regular fitness activities, to help you recover from your lower back pain or injury, and to prevent it from happening again.
Resident Physiotherapist at Sandgate Physical Health Clinic in Sandgate, Jack Clancy, has produced a range of back mobility exercise videos, and we have chosen a few to show you below.
- Start on hands and knees
- Relax and bend back towards your heels as far as you are comfortable
- Try to drop your chest towards your knees and the ground
A- stretch one side of your back more by starting with both hands to one side and bending towards your opposite ankle
B- Start with knees wider than your hips and feet if you are feeling it mostly in your hips
C- Bring your hands in closer to you if feeling it too much in your shoulders
- Bring one knee up and hold it with one hand
- Lift your other knee up and hold it with your other hand
- Relax your body and use your arms to rock your knees in and out from your chest
- Lie on your back with one leg straight and one knee bent
- Use your opposite hand to bring your bent knee across your body towards the floor, while keeping your shoulders on the ground
- Alternatively, start on your side with your bent knee on the ground while rotating away from your bent knee
SEATED FORWARD BEND
- Bend forwards, sliding your hands down your legs and reaching for the floor
- If you can comfortably reach the floor, try hugging your legs to increase the stretch
- If you want to stretch one side of you back more, slide both hands down one leg
Lower Back Treatment and Rehabilitation at Sandgate Physical Health Clinic
Our highly experienced Physiotherapists and Massage Therapists are trained to access and treat the cause of your lower back pain and deliver results that allow you to move pain free!
Please call us for more information on 3869 1099 or read about the various treatment options below –