Does lower back pain keep you from completing day-to-day tasks and enjoying the simple pleasures of life? If it does, you’re not alone: lower back pain is second only to the common cold in reasons that people go to see their doctors. This behavior is likely why the National Institute of Disorders and Stroke found that Americans pour over $50 billion into treating lower back pain annually. It’s no wonder that we spend so much on our backs: lower back pain is, well, painful—and it makes even the most basic of endeavors seem like challenges. If lower back pain has brought your lifestyle to a grinding halt, get moving again with these four practices:
1. Good Posture
One of the primary causes of lower back pain is poor posture. As a result, the first step in reversing lower back pain is practicing good posture! Although office jobs are not the sole culprit of poor posture, hunching over a desk for long stretches of time is particularly hard on the body. Practicing good posture in an office could mean periodically standing up to stretch and walk around during the workday or even swapping out desk chairs. Regardless of your occupation, opting to stand as often as possible, and remembering to straighten your back while sitting or standing, will help you to achieve a healthier posture.
Performing at-home stretches can go a long way in relieving lower back pain. Try one (or all three!) of the following stretches, which target the lower back. Get into position by lying down on your back. Remember to use a flat surface, such as the floor or a yoga mat, instead of a soft or uneven one, such as a couch or bed.
- “Knee to Chest” – Pull one knee up and in toward your chest. Use your hands to hold your bent leg in place, as close to your chest as is comfortable. Alternate legs.
- “Crossed-Leg Stretch” – This stretch takes “Knee to Chest” to the next level. Place your left ankle on your right leg, just above your knee. Start to perform the “Knee to Chest” stretch with your right leg, carrying your bent left leg up toward your chest, as well. You may not be able to pull your legs up as far as you could in the previous stretch—that’s okay! Hold this stretch by placing your hands on the back of your right thigh. Use a towel or strap to reach, if necessary. Alternate legs.
- “Cross & Twist” – Place your left foot flat onto the floor on the far side of your right leg. Allow your lower body to gently twist to the right, while keeping both shoulders on the floor. Advance the stretch by using your right hand to pull your left knee toward the floor. Alternate legs.
In addition to stretching, weight training and aerobic exercise can aid in the relief of lower back pain. Find a routine that works for you!
4. Massage Therapy
Massage therapy is perhaps the most effective treatment for lower back pain. In a study headed by Daniel Cherkin, an epidemiologist and senior investigator at the Group Health Research Institute in Seattle, massage therapy was found to be significantly more effective at relieving lower back pain than the standard treatment of medication and physical therapy. Many participants experienced relief that lasted for six months or more!
There are a number of reasons that massage therapy is able to release pain and tension in the lower back. One of them is that massage works out the scar tissue that develops when muscles are strained and pulled. If left untreated, scar tissue can interfere with muscle function and, over time, cause severe pain. Massage therapy additionally promotes relaxation, circulation, and the release of toxins, all of which contribute to pain relief.
Stand tall, stretch, exercise, and schedule your next pain-relieving session at Elements Massage Phoenix Camelback! Your back will thank you.
How to Relieve Lower Back Pain with Stretches and Massage. (2015, April 28). Retrieved November 18, 2016, from http://carrington.edu/blog/student-tips/health/how-to-relieve-lower-back-pain-with-stretches-and-massage/
Massage Therapy for Low-Back Pain Sufferers. (2014, May 19). Retrieved November 18, 2016, from https://www.amtamassage.org/articles/1/News/detail/2937
Neighmond, P. (2011, July 4). Got Low Back Pain? Massage Therapy May Rub It Out. Retrieved November 18, 2016, from http://www.npr.org/2011/07/04/137609072/got-low-back-pain-massage-therapy-may-rub-it-out
Wlody, E. (2012, June 24). Massage Treatment for Lower Back Pain. Retrieved November 18, 2016, from https://www.hss.edu/newsroom_massage-treatment-for-lower-back-pain.asp