How to help lower back pain, causes and solutions

Back pain is something almost all of us have to deal with at some point, and for some of us, the condition can be chronic and oppressive. Around 80% of people in the U.S. will experience back pain in their lifetime according the WebMD, and with quarantine and lockdowns on the rise again, agitating conditions such as sitting and sedentary behavior are leading more people to look for answers. The purpose of this blog will to be to dig into the main causes of back pain and various solutions such as stretches which may help to alleviate the symptoms. Because the main causes of back pain can be serious conditions, you should always consult your doctor about treatment for back pain before going forward with it. As personal trainers, we do not specialize in treating or diagnosing back pain and the underlying issues that cause it. Personal trainers can give non-medical advice and exercises to loosen tight muscles and strengthen weak muscles to assist in creating better body alignment.

The Main Conditions that Causes Back Pain

Mayo Clinic lists 4 common conditions associated with back pain. These ailments include, muscle or ligament pain, bulging or ruptured discs, arthritis, and osteoporosis. When it comes the patient’s own perception of the causes of their back pain, the top 7 perceived conditions include: stress (29%), not enough exercise / weak muscles (26%), physical work (26%), being overweight (25%), spinal disc herniation (21%), sitting at a desk at work (20%), and having an accident (17%)—from a 2017 Statista study of 711 individuals over the age of 18, with participants being allowed to select multiple perceived conditions. You should always consult a doctor if you are experiencing back pain but looking for conservative solutions may help alleviate pain in the meantime. Conditions caused by lack of exercise, physical work, being overweight, strains, and disc issues can almost always be improved by some margin through corrective exercise and stretching, specifically: improving core strength to support the your spine when lifting and twisting, addressing muscular imbalance such as weak glutes and tight hip flexors to provide a solid base, getting proper mobility to allow you to safely get into different positions, finding body awareness so you can use your muscles properly, and strengthening supporting muscles to achieve good alignment. Think about it like this, if your car’s wheels are not aligned properly, your car will experience excessive wear and tear in various locations. The misalignment will cause your engine to work harder than it needs to, the tires to wear down improperly and unevenly, and your fuel efficiency to drop. When you add load to your body and it is improperly aligned, bad form, injury, and sub-par results will follow.

At Tony Tran Fitness our personal trainers can assess you to help you work around your issues and attempt to alleviate them as well. Finding exercises that work for you and trying to fix your mechanical issues are part of the core principles that make up our personal training methodology. We will bring up our anatomy app so we can communicate visually what we believe the issue to be, and how to fix it. We will design workouts for you to do outside of the gym on our app so that you can make progress all the time. On top of those solutions, we offer recovery services for you which may loosen your painful muscles and improve your mobility. Click here for our recovery services.

Sciatica Pain Relief

Sciatica is a condition in which an individual experiences radiating pain, or referred pain, from the lower back and buttocks down the leg and even into the foot. It is caused by the compression of the sciatic nerve which exists in buttocks/hip area. This compression can be the result of variety of things including, a herniated disc or bulging disc, bone spur, or spinal stenosis. Piriformis syndrome, which is caused by compression of your sciatic nerve from your piriformis muscle (located in the buttocks) can also cause sciatic pain and radiating pain. Piriformis syndrome is associated with a malfunction of muscles in your buttocks, and improper gluteal muscle function can actually lead to back pain, as weakness in the glutes can cause lower back compensation.

When we sit in chair for 6-8 hours a day, our butt’s muscles weaken and our hip flexors tighten, leading to malfunction. If the problem is a function of the muscles, strengthening and stretching exercises can help rehab the body to perform correctly. If the problem arises from a disc injury, mobility improvement and core stabilization/strengthening are usually the preferred route. It is difficult to find immediate pain relief for sciatica pain without understanding what the specific issue is, which is why you should always consult with your doctor.

Stretches for Lower Back Pain, And Stretches for Lower Back Pain and Hip Pain

If you believe you have a herniated or bulging disc, some of these stretches may not be appropriate for you, as with any fitness program always consult with your physician before starting something you are new to.

The Effect of Extended Sitting

The Orthopedic Institute of Southern Illinois and Western Kentucky says that slouching, sitting with a rounded back, and leaning to one side while sitting can put stress on specific parts of your back if done for extended periods of time. They also recommend getting a standing desk, something that we highly encourage at Tony Tran Fitness. The Department of Health & Human Services, State Government of Victoria, Australia website discusses how your legs and gluteal muscles will weaken and waste from sitting for extended periods of time which furthers your chance of injury when performing work.

Additionally, sitting causes more stress on your lower back than standing or laying. What is the solution for somebody working from home or from an office? Using proper posture or switching to a standing desk can provide relief.

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Tony T.
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