There’s an old joke about a man who goes to the doctor and says, “It really hurts when I do this, doctor.” To which the doctor replies, “Then don’t do it.”
So, the first thing to do with lower back pain is to figure out if there was a specific cause, and if there was – make sure you don’t make the same mistake.
For example, if you picked up a heavy object and didn’t follow the golden rule of ‘bend your knees’, then make sure you either ask for help to lift it next time or follow best lifting practice.
Back pain is very common, especially in the lower back. So, what can we do to fix it?
Firstly, if the pain appeared suddenly and you don’t recall injuring it, please seek the help of a healthcare professional. The same advice applies if the pain just won’t go away even after you’ve tried the advice that follows below.
It might sound counterintuitive to recommend activity instead of rest, but when muscles aren’t used, they weaken, which might make things worse.1 Just choose your activity carefully so it doesn’t aggravate the injury or cause pain. Avoid the activity that may have caused the issue in the first place.
Your back needs good muscle strength to support upper body weight, so stretching muscles in the lower back, buttocks, hips, and the hamstrings can help.3
Healthline has put together a great range of simple stretch exercises you can do at home without the need for expensive equipment – check them out here.
Reducing stress can help relieve muscle tension. Try some relaxation techniques like meditation or mindfulness. Sometimes just gentle walks in nature can help. If the muscle tension is fairly localised (e.g., lower back, shoulders etc) try some heat therapy. (See below).
Avoid lifting heavy objects or bending awkwardly
Ask for help. When you start to feel better and need to lift objects (including children), bend your knees, squat down and lift with your legs, trying to keep your back straight and holding the object as close to your body as you can (no outstretched arms). 4
Many of us are guilty of bad posture, especially when slumped on a couch in front of a television. Or even at our desks. A good posture helps ease the pressure on your back.1
Maintain a healthy weight
Good advice for your back and your overall health. Excess weight out front puts extra stress on your back.
Heat therapy is best used to relieve muscle tension and spasm. Applying heat to muscles and soft tissue yields a number of benefits:
- Heat increases blood flow to the area, which also brings nutrients and oxygen5
- It can accelerate healing6
- It increases the activity of collagenase,6 an enzyme that breaks down collagen in damaged tissues within the skin and helps the body generate new healthy tissue.7 (Collagen found in body tissues such as skin, tendons, muscles, and bone)
Heat pads are a very safe and convenient way to apply heat therapy. They slowly heat up and start working in about 10 minutes. They are also thin and discreet, and unlike bulky wheat bags, or hot water bottles, retain their heat for longer12.
Adhesive heat pads such as Hotteeze* are designed to be positioned on the outside of under garments where heat is required. The gentle adhesive will help keep them in position. You can check out the range of pads here.
TENS is an acronym for Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation.8 (Transcutaneous is just a scientific way of saying ‘through the skin).
A TENS device~ sends small electrical impulses through some pads you attach to your skin – don’t worry, it’s safe.8
While scientists may not know exactly how it works, it is believed that the electrical impulses flood the nervous system, reducing its ability to transmit pain signals to the spinal cord and brain, which may help relieve pain and relax muscles. They may also stimulate the production of endorphins, which are the body’s natural painkillers.10,11
In addition to relieving the pain, a TENS device is portable and discreet and can be used in combination with your regular medication if required.11
You can check out a range of great TENS devices here.
*Always read & follow the instructions for use & health warnings. If symptoms persist, talk to your health professional. Do not stick directly on skin.
~ Your health professional will advise you whether this product is suitable for you/ your condition. Always read & follow the instructions for use & health warnings. If symptoms persist, talk to your health professional. Do not use with any electronic medical devices e.g. pacemakers.