So what is the cause of lower back pain? Most of the time, people have the misconception that it is caused by not using your back or a position or movement not ideal for your back. In fact, the most common cause for lower back pain is actually overuse. The spasms we get and the strain we feel doesnt come from the back muscle not being used and suddenly straining it. It's actually putting the muscle over constant strain. Think about it this way. The core (which includes the lower back muscles) holds the stability of our spine in place. If your back muscles don't work at all, we would all be floppy and cant even stand or sit up straight. So in fact, lower back pain would commonly derive from putting your back in a position of constant strain. So to treat it, we need to start by understanding this.
However, what sort of treatments are ideal and what shouldn't you be doing? Here is what I think...
A massage is always good especially when your back starts to act up. This helps relieve the tension in the erector spinae as well as loosen up some of the ligaments in the lower back region which are probably tight. However, other areas commonly neglected in a massage would be your hip flexors like your psoas as well as your rectus femoris which tend to tighten up as well and may "pull" on your hip, causing the lower back to be in constant strain.
Stretching is the common treatment we would think of when we have any form of muscular pain. Everyone comes to me and asks "what's a good stretch for this..." Yes. We need to stretch the muscles out. Especially in lower back pain, the muscles are being overused. This means the muscles are constantly tightened up. So by stretching them, it allows relief to be given to the overworking muscles of your lower back. But as much as we need to stretch, we also need to strengthen them up which will lead me to my next point...
Lower Back Exercises
This would involve not only static stabilization exercises to strengthen the endurance of your back muscles but also to allow them to be stronger in various positions. Doing things like plank holds would be good. But you need to make sure you do put your back in stabilization while in motion. What I mean is putting the strain on your back while you are moving about. Movements like deadlifts or squats where your core is placed under pressure are good for training the back to stabilize as a block while other parts of your body are moving. That way, you use your back the way it should be used and not using it to generate movement. Also, most of the time, it would be advised to shy away from lifting weights when your back is acting up. But in fact, you should lift some weights to build the muscle back up to be able to handle some load. By allowing it to not do anything, you end up with detraining of your back which results in your back being weaker!
We all have an idea of what ideal posture needs to be. We just don't do it. Things like tucking your hips behind while sitting or walking tall are simple things that our parents constantly reminded us to do when we were younger but we never do them. When we grow older and start getting pains in our back, my advice is we should have listened to them. Also, if you are sitting all day, make sure your chair is adjusted to the right height where your feet comfortably touch the ground. This would prevent you from slouching and hence maintain that position of your back to reduce the constant strain on it.
Well.. I am no physio but in fact most of these are common sense which we normally overlook. Based on my own experience with lower back injuries, we tend to neglect the causes of lower back injury and try to just gain temporary relief by using methods like massage and stretching. However, we need to look out for the causes through ergonomics and by changing the way we maintain our posture in our daily activites, we actually do something to prevent lower back pain. Performing lower back exercises is also another way of prevention which most people tend to neglect till it's too late.
So just my two cents worth on lower back pain and I hope it has made you sit up alittle straight after reading this.
Stay Strong and Keep Training Your Back,
The Training Geek