In 2013 (quite a while ago so I would imagine these figures have gone up) it was found that 31 million days of work were lost due to back, neck or other muscle complaints. In fact musculoskeletal complaints accounted for the most number of prolonged absences from the work place over any other ailment...
It was also found by other research that on any one day, 2.5 million people suffered from low back pain!
If you’re currently suffering from a bit of low back pain, try following these tips to help relieve it.
In particular try to stretch your glutes, lats and hamstrings. These muscles have a direct effect on your low back.
The hamstrings attach to your pelvis, and because of the location they attatch to they pull it into a posterior tilt. This can exacerbate the pain in your lower back by putting it in a position that may pressure the injured area further.
The glutes and lats affect your lower back via the thoraco-lumbar fascia, this is a band of connective tissue that runs across the entirety of your lower back. The glutes and lats work in opposition with each other, creating what is known as the posterior oblique sling. Your Right lat and left glute is one pair, and vice versa. They form an essential part of human movement, but can also compromise the lower back, this happens if one of these muscles or slings is overly tight, which then creates faulty movement patterns, which in turn mean more pressure on structures that might already be damaged.
2. Don’t just stop moving
Contrary to popular belief, complete bed rest is not the correct way to go about things in most cases. Unless you are in severe pain, or have been told by a professional to rest it may be best to actually get back to moving ASAP. This is because without movement less blood gets to the area, particularly in the lower back, where blood flow can sometimes be a little stagnant anyway. With less blood reaching the area, less nutrients are provided. And with less nutrients provided healing occurs much more slowly.
On top of this, movement stresses the structures that are healing, and whilst this sounds bad, it actually helps the body to align the repairs its doing correctly. You just have to make sure that the movement is gentle!
3. Take a look at your posture
If you’ve got back pain that didn’t really start for any particular reason it’s fairly likely your posture might be a little off. The pain is there to tell you something isn’t right, so this is the perfect opportunity to begin working to improve.
It may be that you’ve got a desk based job and the posture you sit in isn’t correct, or that you’re sitting for too long (see our blog about sitting not being the new smoking). Or that your lower back is held in too much extension and its causing an overload of the joints in the area. Whatever the case may be, its best to find out what is causing the posture and work to resolve this using stretching and strengthening. If you’re unsure of what’s causing the problem, don’t worry, most people will be. Come and visit us at Alpha health and we’ll be more than happy to help find out what’s causing the problem, and how to solve it!
4. Ice or heat?
Finally I want to address the use of ice and heat. The general idea behind ice is that it will help to reduce inflammation in the area. By reducing inflammation you’re reducing the pain levels.
With heat the theory is that you’re are relaxing the muscles and bringing more blood to the area, which will then help to reduce tension around the area and you can get to moving better and speed up healing with the delivery of more nutrients.
I’d advise sticking to ice for the first few days. Heat has the side effect of increasing inflammation in the area, a natural side effect of more blood entering an injured site. Once the initial healing has begun and the inflammation and pain levels are lower, contrast bathing would be my recommendation.
Contrast bathing helps to get the best of both worlds. And at the same time causes much better flow of blood into the area, the cold flushes blood out, the hot brings fresh blood in. theoretically speeding up healing.
If you have any of the following symptoms please seek medical attention
Unremitting pain at night where it disturbs your sleep and you cannot get comfortable
Sweating at night that is out of the ordinary for you
Unexplained loss of weight
Loss of bowel or bladder control
An obvious deformity in your back
Numbness in your saddle region (your groin area)
Your back pain started immediately after an accident
These are not here to alarm you, but it is essential that you do not ignore any of these signs as your pain may be being caused by something that is likely to not just get better on its own!
So there you have it, my tips for back pain. If you have any questions or queries please don’t hesitate to contact us!
As always, this blog is not meant to replace the advice and care of a health professional. If you have any questions or concerns, or would like to book in for an appointment then please give us a call on
020 8304 7237.