lower back pain

Lower Back Pain: 5 Causes & Treatments

Lower Back Pain: 5 Causes & Treatments
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Do you suffer from lower back pain? Are you frustrated that you are spending a lot of time and money on your lower back pain without much success? Would you like to stop taking painkillers for your lower back pain?

You are not alone. Fortunately, with alternative therapies on the rise there is also an increase in services that help treat the root of lower back pain. Of course Western allopathic medicine has its place; there is a reason we live past the age of 30. However, unless you have a severe lower back condition, there are non-medical options available to help you treat your lower back pain.

A simple anatomy lesson shows us that the lower back is not an isolated section of the body. It is a part of a complex mobility system that is affected by other key muscle groups. For example, you hip flexors have a huge impact on your lower back. Your hip flexors are like two cables that attach at the upper femur (thigh) bone. They run through the pelvis and then attach to the lower five vertebrae of the spine. The tighter your hip flexors get from activities like running, cycling and sitting at a desk all day, the more they pull on your lower spine. In an attempt to keep your spine erect, your lower back muscles try to compensate by tensing up.

When it comes to your lower back there are numerous factors that may be contributing to the pain or discomfort you are feeling. Here are five of the most common factors along with  simple solutions to help you address your lower back pain immediately.

Lower Back Pain & Tight Hip Flexors

Why this affects your lower back:

As mentioned before, tight hip flexors can put a lot of strain on the lower back. This can cause discomfort and even pain.

What you can do about it:

Stretch! Focus on stretches that target your hips, quads and glutes. Lunges with your back knee on the ground are great for opening up the hip flexors. Other options include the figure four glute stretch and a simple standing quad stretch. If you want more guidance when it comes to targeting the hips, sign up for a yoga class. The key here is to stretch regularly in order to maintain open hip flexors.

Lower Back Pain & Weak Core Muscles

Why this affects your lower back:

Our back muscles are designed to move our spine around and provide support alongside the core muscles. “Core muscles” is a broad term used to describe both the superficial—”the 6 pack“—as well as the deep muscles that support your spine. If your core muscles are weak, the responsibility falls onto your back muscles to keep everything stable. Your back muscles are not designed to do this entirely on their own. Consequently, people often hurt their backs when they lift a heavy object without proper core strength and engagement.

What you can do about it:

Build up your core strength. Before you run off to the gym to do 100 sit-ups consider trying exercises that target your deep core muscles. Not sure where to start? Try a Pilates class. Pilates was created by Joseph Pilates to help rehabilitate injured dancers. Joseph Pilates created exercises that let dancers maintain their muscle tone even when they were unable to dance. Therefore Pilates exercises emphasise deep core strength and proper alignment, something you want to be mindful of as you work with your lower back pain.

lower back pain left side

Lower Back Pain & Poor Posture

Why this affects your lower back:

Obviously hunching over at a desk all day is not going to help alleviate stress off your lower back. The tendency when sitting or standing with poor posture, is for the shoulders to round inward and the head to thrust forward. As a result, your back tenses up to try and balance out this shift in alignment.

What you can do about it:

The good news is, both stretching out your hip flexors and building up core strength will help to improve your posture. Ask your yoga or Pilates instructor about proper postural alignment the next time you are in class. Once you have an idea what good posture feels like, program little reminders into your day to keep yourself standing or sitting up straight. For example, schedule pop up reminders into your calendar to prompt you to adjust your posture every 30 minutes.

Lower Back Pain & Poor Gut Health

Why this affects your lower back:

Imagine your digestive system—your large intestine, small intestine, and stomach—is like a balloon inside your body. When you eat a healthy diet and avoid inflammatory foods, the balloon expands and shrinks according to what you have just eaten but nothing more than that. However, when you eat foods that aggravate your gut and cause inflammation that balloon expands and has trouble shrinking back down to size. After a while, you might feel the pressure from your inflamed digestive system as it presses back towards your spine. This in turn will cause your lower back muscles to react.

What you can do about it:

Eat well most of the time and avoid foods made with refined sugar or chemicals you cannot pronounce. Indulge once in awhile but keep that balloon in mind and try not to overdo it. If you are stuck where to begin, go see a dietician, nutritionist or other expert. Stick to the meal plan they give you until you figure out what foods are the cause of inflammation in your gut.

Lower Back Pain & Stress

Why this affects your lower back:

Stress is a natural response within your body that occurs when you need to brace yourself for a challenge, either physical or psychological. The right amount of stress is okay and can actually improve your health. However, constant or chronic stress does more harm than good. Stress becomes a trigger that makes your lower back tense or go into spasm.

What you can do about it:

Everything we mentioned before will help with stress management in some way. When combined, all those little steps will have a big impact on your feeling of wellbeing. If you need a little more, consider trying meditation or other mindfulness exercises. Meditation will help you to improve your ability to manage stress. This in turn will help your lower back remain relaxed even in stressful situations.

None of these solutions are a “cure-all” for your lower back pain. However, over time they will bring amazing benefits to your lower back and as well as your quality of life. We recommend that you pick just one factor to start with. Add the others in as you feel ready to move forward. Trust us, your lower back will thank you.

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