Tough Tips for Overcoming Chronic Lower Back Pain
Updated March 2016
In order to overcome and reduce lower back pain, follow these specific guidelines & recommendations.
This is essential as it is needed to help break the common pattern that leads to lower back pain. This common pattern is where the pain sufferer is only partially committed to overcoming their pain. Here, they only apply a minimal amount of effort to finding an adequate solution. They may have valid reasons but they also may have equally invalid ones.
Some reasons are:
- too busy, not enough spare time
- other priorities
- the pain is only mild or temporary
- my management of the pain is sufficient
- fear of worsening the injury
- aversion to exercise
- doubt of exercise
- willingness to accept chronic pain
- reliance on medication
There are of course more reasons that can be listed.
Some of the above are valid but may be used as a means to avoid or delay proper care and treatment. In such instances, there is an increased risk of further injury.
To help break the cycle of mere pain management and reduce further possible injury:
Here Are Some Tough Tips for Lower Back Pain
Be Proactive Now
Do not wait until there is an episode of back pain to take action.
Most people assume that their backs are fine. Whether or not this is true, this give some an excuse to neglect the safety of our lumbar spine. We assume that if there is no pain, then there are no issues. Does: not having pain imply that your back is 100% healthy and safe? Your spine is usually at risk at some injury whether mild or serious. Back pain is not only sudden, but cumulative. A simple bad habit such as poor posture, poor lifting or risky exercises overtime can lead to more serious issues.
Never Touch Your Toes as a Means to Test Your Flexibility
Never means never.
This is a terrible way to test for flexibility or for back issues. If anyone suggests this method, be wary of their advice. Why? The action of leaning forward to touch your toes generates the most torque and force on the lumbar disc. This is dangerous. You will risk injury and spasms. This movement does nothing to test for flexibility. This more that you bend or lean to stretch your hamstrings, the worse the damage to your discs. You can easily stretch these muscles without causing harm to your discs.
People who are not serious about properly stretching their hamstrings, will perform this action. They may be successful for some time but their discs will fail at some point in time. At the other end of the spectrum, people who are fully able to stretch their hamstrings can perform this movement without risk of injury. This make the test pointless to them as they do not need it in the first place.
If you were to design a way to deliberately harm your L5-S1 disc (the most important and vulnerable), it would include any method of leaning forward with your full upper body weight and holding. Hence touching your toes. Avoid this test at all costs.
Engage Your Legs and Hips More than Your Upper Body
We all fail to use our lower body as much as our upper when required. In fact, this is where the problem lies. If you use your leg muscles more to bend, pick up, reach or lower yourself, you will use your back less. Before you consider leaning forward (which requires pressure on the lumbar spine), use your legs instead to bend to lower. This should be a conscious effort each time. It will not feel comfortable at first but it will benefit your health.
Do Not Rely on Your Back Rest when Sitting
Even the most ergonomic chairs provide minimal support. That is, when compared with the support that your back muscles, hips and posture should be providing instead. A back rest is a rest and not a support. If you let the back muscles rest while upright, then there is NO support from the body. This means that your ergonomic chair is not helping your back issue. It only helps your comfort. You may feel better but your chronic pain issue is still there.
The best way to sit is unassisted, upright, knees shoulder width apart, elbows close to the body, head up and eyes looking forward or slightly down. Maintain a slight arch in your back with your chest slightly pushed out. You can lower one thigh and knee down to the side for additional support. You can also use your arms to rest on your table or desk in front of you. Use the back rest as little as possible. Only use it primarily to help tilt your pelvis forward toward neutral position. Sitting causes our pelvis to tilt backward causing pain.
You will find this new position difficult to maintain and somewhat tiring. This does not mean that you should not continue it. It is a sign that your body is relying on rest instead of activity for support. Overtime, your back muscles will be able to sit upright unassisted with very little energy expended. You will feel much less sore when you sit and later when you stand. You will be able to sit anywhere and feel comfortable.
Exercise Your Supportive Muscles
If you do not exercise now or do not like to, then you will not be able to correct your chronic pain issues. No health care professional has even recommended an exercise free treatment exclusively. The type of exercises that you should be performing are not the kind that you would imagine having to suffer through in the hope that it may help.
You are not trying to incorporate stressful, sport-like, cardio-class, extreme yoga workouts. That is not what you need. You need simple, safe and easy exercises that function to correct your daily movements and muscle imbalances. These type of exercises serve to correct what you have not been performing well initially.
Use Medications Wisely
It is between you and your health care professional how to use your medication. If you are using them as a supplement to pop whenever it deems suitable, then you are abusing both the drug and your body.
Taking medication to avoid pain may be necessary when you need it to function for important areas in your life. Taking them as to avoid other more effective treatments is not.
Don’t dull your senses to your pain only. Use it as a sign that something more significant should be done. Sometimes we associate emotional pain with physical pain too much. We find that by taking pain killers to avoid back pain, we can help the emotional side that comes with it. If you have been affected by back pain to the point of giving up on most treatments and relying on medication solely, seek help.
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