Our spine is amazing, holding our bodies up while we bend, twist, and carry heavy objects.
But the strength and flexibility that’s engineered into the lower back also makes it susceptible to developing problems over time. And often a problem in the lower back can lead to leg pain as well as lower back pain.
The lower back is subject to injury while lifting a heavy object, twisting, or a sudden movement—any of which can cause muscles or ligaments to stretch or develop microscopic tears. Over time, poor posture or repetitive stress can also lease to muscle strain or other soft tissue problems. Even though muscle strain sounds simple, in the lower back the pain from a simple strain can be severe.
The lumbar spine has 5 motion segments. Most twisting and bending is divided among those segments, although the majority of the motion takes place in the lowest two segments, called L4-L5 and L5-S1. The structures in these two lowest segments are the most likely to wear down over time or be injured.
Tips to prevent injury to your lower back
- Get Moving: Low-impact cardiovascular exercise—like walking—increases blood flow to the spine, which supplies healing nutrients and hydration to the structures in your lower back.
- Correct your posture. Poor posture places pressure on the lower back and can cause degenerated discs to be more painful. Support the natural curve in the lower back by using an ergonomic chair or lumbar roll. Set a reminder on your phone at least once an hour to check your posture and to get up and walk around if you sit most of the day.
- Exercise your core. Strong core muscles are important to provide support for the lower back and avoid injury.
- It is also important to get enough deep, restorative sleep, as too little sleep can lead to back pain and/or worsen an existing back condition.
- Stretch your hamstrings. A little-known cause of low back pain is tight hamstrings. Simple hamstring stretching exercises can help decrease the pressure on your pelvis and provide relief across your low back. Not all hamstring stretching approaches are good for all types of back conditions, so check with your chiropractor first.
- Lift heavy objects correctly. Even young, strong, healthy people can severely injure their lower backs if they lift a heavy object incorrectly.
- Improve your overall physical health. The spine reflects the overall health of your body. Anything you can do to improve your overall physical fitness and general health will benefit your lumbar spine as well—including drinking lots of water, minimising alcohol and stopping smoking.
At Chiropractic Balance we treat back issues and provide practical advice and prevention tips. Our experienced team practice in two locations, Wellington and Mana and look forward to working with you to achieve your goals.