Our spines are the focal points for our entire nervous system, but all that focus means that back pain is one of the most common issues in the world.
Practically everyone gets back pain now and again (half of the US working population deals with back pain at least once a year), but lots of people suffer from it chronically, and in one area in particular: the lower back – or lumbar region of your back.
Lower back or lumbar back pain can happen for lots of reasons. You might just be getting older, which results in the thinning of cartilage inside your spine.
Or you might suffer from spinal stenosis, which makes your spine become thinner over time and which can lead to nerve damage.
You might even have a herniated disc.
Even without those more complex issues, lots of people suffer from chronic lower back pain because of poor posture, overuse, or general wear and tear.
If you spend lots of time lifting up heavy things for doing manual labor, particularly if you bend down, chances are you live with back pain pretty frequently.
Fortunately, back pain doesn’t necessarily need to lead to expensive and complicated surgery.
There are lots of proven treatments to help handle lower back pain, and most of them are fine for doing at home.
Let’s go over some of the best lower back pain treatments around.
By far, physical therapy is one of the best chronic lower back pain treatments around.
It’s also one of the hardest to stick with.
We’re not necessarily talking about going to an actual licensed physical therapist. But of course, working with a professional does have its perks.
Even if you don’t visit a therapist in person, following a rigorous exercise routine regularly will do a lot to help your overall body strength and posture.
Posture, as well, is a big part of lower back pain.
Many of us regularly slouch during the day, especially if we’re tall.
This might eventually lead to the curving of the spine and chronic pain.
Even worse, modern life has allowed us to become relatively sedentary compared to our mobile ancestors. But sitting all day is something the human spine has definitively not evolved to do.
Sitting bend your spine naturally and eventually does the same thing as hunching over. This can lead to pain in either your spine itself or just your lower back muscles.
Retraining your posture through mindful physical therapy and stretching and exercising every day are great ways to keep yourself limber and boost your lower back strength at the same time.
Yoga, regardless of whether you’re a man or woman, is an excellent way to go about this. Swimming is also an excellent choice.
What you should take with you from this is one thing – very simple: exercise does help!
Many people with lower back pain think that laying in bed all day is the way to go. That is not true. Get up and exercise is the best – and proven – method to treat your back pain.
We mentioned sitting all day earlier, and it bears repeating.
Sitting all day either at work or at home can lead to chronic lower back pain you won’t be able to easily escape.
One of the best lifestyle modifications you can make is to use a standing desk if you find yourself sitting all day at work.
Standing desks allow you to be just as productive, and some people who adopt them find that they’re even more productive than they were before.
It might be a little uncomfortable at first, but the benefits you’ll get in terms of lower back pain relief are immeasurable.
Use an Ergonomic Chair
If you can’t get a standing desk at work for whatever reason, you might consider investing in an ergonomic chair.
Most chairs aren’t actually built for proper sitting posture, resulting in a curved spine and a slouched posture.
Find an ergonomic chair that helps align and support your thighs and back correctly.
Alternatively, you can always use a small rolled-up towel or a pillow and place it at the lower part of your back when sitting on a regular chair.
This simulates the shape of a truly ergonomic chair and is a great temporary solution and an idea you can follow at home. But it doesn’t substitute a real ergonomic chair like this one I’m using in the office.
Many people who spend all day lifting objects do so incorrectly (as seen in the image above on the right), lifting with their back muscles instead of their legs.
Some workplaces have posters and pamphlets demonstrating the correct lifting method: grip things with your hands and use your legs to rise to a standing position.
This puts less strain on your muscles and reduces your risk of a herniated disc as a result of straining your spine.
Another way to relieve back pain without visiting the doctor is acupuncture.
There is some research that suggests that acupuncture can work as an excellent reliever of back pain, particularly in the lower regions.
While the exact mechanism of this lower back pain relief isn’t fully known, it’s probably related to the same reason that acupuncture feels good in general: by triggering the release of endorphins and natural opioids in the body.
In many first-world countries, one of the biggest reasons that people experience lower back pain is because they put on pounds after they reach middle age.
Most people gain weight around the middle or waist, depending on sex and general genetic predispositions.
Either way, all that extra weight puts more pressure on your spine and the muscles around your lower back.
This can quickly become uncomfortable, and it affects your posture, how long you sit, and your exercise frequency.
All of these issues combined can create a perfect storm of lower back pain.
Losing weight and adopting a healthy diet is the only real solution if this is the cause of your back pain.
While you can follow more short-term solutions, your back pain will always come back if your spine is being compressed.
Following a strict exercise regimen and working to reduce your caloric intake will eventually result in lower body weight and a less compressed spine.
Overall, lower back pain is something that we’ll likely never permanently vanquish.
But so long as there are easy and affordable ways to treat back pain, we’ll be able to overcome its discomfort in most cases.
So please: if you are experiencing lower back pain, please scan through the tips above and see if there is something in it for you (my personal recommendation: Yoga and Swimming).
If you believe you are suffering from a herniated disc or any other condition please see the dedicated sections we put together.