Updated: Jun 1, 2020
Most people will experience lower back pain at some point in their lives. Lower back pain can be debilitating, depending on what the injury is. Below are some tips and tools to help speed up recovery and get you back on track.
If you have recently injured your lower back, there will be inflammation. It will usually be worse in the morning for the first few days. Therefore, a cold pack can help reduce the inflammation, which will help reduce the pain.
People often get this wrong and use a heat pack in the initial stages, which worsens the back pain. A heat pack can help later, once the inflammation has settled...
Once the inflammation has settled, you can start using a heat pack, which will help increase blood flow and circulation and can help reduce muscle spasm. You also want to avoid being still for prolonged periods of time, as the body will tighten up. Get up and move as often as you can. Many people find the back pain eases a bit with movement.
Self mobility exercises
As mentioned above, you want keep moving with some gentle mobility exercises. A very simple and effective exercise (done first thing in the morning, before you even get out of bed) is to bend your knees and rotated them side to side. This will help get rotation between the vertebra, and will help loosen things off. Do about 10 - 15 repetitions. You can also bring both knees up to your chest. Some people find this exercise can be a bit too tender initially, however, if there is not too much discomfort, this exercise helps to seperate lumbar vertebra and lengthen the spine
Release tension in the glutes
To help unload the lower back, use a tennis ball to release tension in the glutes. If the glutes are tight or in spasm, they can restrict the movement in your sacro-illiac joints (SIJ) at the base of your spine. The SIJ's are meant to act as shock-absorbers, so if they are restricted, it puts extra load on the lower back. Very simple and effective, lie on your back, (knees bent) and place a tennis ball between you and the ground/bed. The tension usually fades within 45 seconds to a minute. Then re-position the ball and wait for the tension to fade again. The gluteas are a large muscle group (glute medius, minimus, maximus, piriformis etc), so take your time and release the whole area. An epsom salts bath can massively help release tension in the lower back (as well as the whole body). Epsom salts is magnesium sulfate, which helps with muscle relaxation. Try a warm bath with a cup of epsom salts, which will reduce muscle spasm and help you get a better nights sleep.
Once you have released tension and done self mobilizing exercises, management plays a huge part of recovery. Try to avoid sitting slouched, to avoid rounding in your lower back (C - curve). Try use a lumbar support / pillow and sit into the back of your chair. This will help maintain a more natural curve, called the lordosis, which also unloads the discs as weight goes through the facet joints instead. Keep moving, stretching and pop in to get osteopathic treatment to ensure pelvis mechanics, hips and middle back is all moving and functioning well. This all helps speed up recovery and also reduces the risk of straining your lower back again, because when the surrounding structures are restricted or asymmetrical, it increases the strain on the lower back.
To see some videos on how to alleviate back pain with self-mobility exercises, check out the Better Bodies OSTEO Facebook page for free videos / tips and advice.
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