Lower back pain is a very common problem and is a leading cause for disability in the UK according to Versus Arthritis.org. Around 1 in 6 adults in England are reported to have back pain of varying intensities and severity which can lead to mobility issues as well as reducing a person’s quality of life (QOL). There are a multitude of reasons why you might have back pain, ranging from heavy lifting and over exertion to simply the way you might have been sitting at a work desk for years. This can cause a variety of injuries. Read on for Lower Back Pain: 4 Causes & Exercises that can Relieve the Pain.
1. Disc Injury
Between each vertebra of the spine there are discs of cartilage that act as shock absorbers. An increase in pressure and stress on the spine can lead to a herniated disc (aka slipped or ruptured disc), resulting in lower back pain or a ‘shooting’ pain down the back of a leg (more on that later). This can be caused by bending forward to pick up a heavy object or excessive twisting, with the risk of a herniated disc increasing with age.
2. Sciatica (pronounced: “Sy’a-a-tic-KA”)
A possible consequence of a slipped disc, is the increased pressure put on to nearby nerve roots, or more specifically the sciatic nerve which connects the spine to the legs. This can cause the ‘shooting’ pain down the back of the leg discussed above, the term for this condition is called ‘sciatica’.
3. Strains & Sprains
The muscles and ligaments found in the back can be overstretched and tear due to fast, and rapid movements or the result of continuous and repetitive misaligned, harmful movements over time. Common causes of such injuries include: poor posture over time (slouching etc), lifting heavy objects wrongly, or sports related movements that involve twisting and large impact forces.
4. Sacroiliac Joint Inflammation
The sacroiliac joint’s primary function is to absorb the shock between the lower and upper body while also enabling the body to twist during locomotion.
Inflammation of this joint can be the result of a fall, direct blow to the buttocks or continuous wear and tear. These incidents are common in collision sports, horse riding and skating. Sacroiliac joint inflammation is characterised by pain on either side of the lower back which may spread to the buttocks, back of the thigh, groin or even the knee in rare cases.
Staying physically active and engaging in regular exercise with additional stretching can help reduce the symptoms of back pain. Strengthening the muscles in your abdomen and back can help attenuate, or reduce great forces that may cause injury, while stretching can improve flexibility (yoga is a great option!). There are specific exercises you can do to improve mobility and reduce pain as highlighted in the video above.
You can also follow a course of breathing for 10 minutes per day to help relieve pain and flush your body with fresh endocrine energy which is the source of all healing.
Lower back pain can be a painful and troublesome condition but thankfully it’s not all doom and gloom. Physical activity and consistent stretching can definitely help relieve the pain, providing an equally effective or superior and cheaper alternative to treatments such as massage therapy, acupuncture or spinal manipulation from a chiropractor. Remember that effort your exert on yourself -in terms of stretching or exercise- is never lost, it’s invested.