That ache in the lower back – the one that comes on swiftly when picking up a heavy object, or slowly after a long day of strenuous exertion – doesn’t have to be something that people just “have to live with.” Eight out of ten people suffer from some form of issue with their lower back, and the discomfort can cause serious pain and put a serious strain on the ability to get things done.
People have this sense that the pain that’s felt from this kind of lower back injury is just a part of getting older, it’s something that adults simply have to deal with. However, that notion is patently false. Let’s explore the reasons for and ways to solve lower back pain. Life can be pain free.
Causes and solutions for lower back pain
Lower back pain is typically caused by issues with the muscles in the lower back. In order to combat those problems, getting the right kind of treatment is vital.
You’ll notice that most of these causes are simple. Lower back pain is a widespread issue because it’s most often caused by the common habits that can easily be changed.
1. Sleeping on the stomach
It’s cuddly. It’s comfy. It’s lovely. Sleeping on the stomach is comfortable for many of us, but it can cause some serious discomfort later on.
Sleeping with the back to the ceiling means that the spine isn’t in a good position of alignment. That kind of misalignment causes all kinds of trouble for the lower back by putting strain on the muscles and ligaments in the back.
If you really can’t sleep any other way, don’t worry, there’s a solution. Slip a narrow pillow underneath your hips to bring them up and to create the natural curve in your spine. This simple addition can prove to be an incredibly powerful one.
Though smoking is becoming less and less common, there are still a great many people who light up. What’s truly amazing is that smoking has effects on a wide variety of parts of the body – not just on the lungs.
Chemicals in cigarettes affect just about every part of a smoker’s body. In the lower back, those chemicals restrict blood flow to the vertebrae, causing lower back pain. That lack of blood can actually create an increase in deterioration of the structures in the lower back that do come with age, and smoking can even leech calcium from the body, bringing on back pain caused by osteoporosis.
Quit smoking. Or vaping. The nicotine found in vaping has the same effect on the body as does traditional smoking. Other kinds of smoking can cause issues as well – so just quit!
This is perhaps the most common reason for lower back pain to flare up – poor posture. Poor posture is rampant today thanks to the amount of time that people spend in front of screens, either for work or for pleasure. If you are hunching over a desk, you might not feel discomfort in the moment, but sitting in this position for hours on end can lead to back problems that stick around and just won’t go away.
Just as with the sleeping on the belly problem, poor posture causes a misalignment in the spine that puts pressure on the structures in the lower back. Over time, that pressure eats away at the ability of the back to stay in alignment and causes a whole host of long term issues.
There are actually several great solutions for improving posture, but they boil down to just two – fixing the environment and fixing the body. To fix the environment, get a better chair or even look into a standing desk. It might seem like a low priority, but taking the time to solve the problem will mean a lower likelihood of pain. To fix the body, take stretch breaks and work on an exercise system that will pull the body back into alignment. Pilates helps to improve posture by strengthening the muscles that support the lower back and increasing bodily awareness in order to bring the body back in line.
4. Core weakness
Core work isn’t just about having great abs. The muscles that wrap around the midsection of the body are important when it comes to having a pain free lower back.
A weak core is a direct cause of lower back pain, as without balance and strength that comes from the core muscles, the spine is left to do all of the work. The spine needs the support of strong muscles in the abdomen and in the back in order to pull it into alignment and to relieve pressure on the vertebrae and spine.
Work out the core to create more support for the spine. Pilates focuses on core development that’s done with balance, pulling the spine into better alignment and creating more effective support for the spinal column. Developing the core muscles can even help to relieve strain on the lower back that’s been caused by an injury to the spine.
Keep in mind that this is just a short list of possible causes of lower back pain. The complexity of the muscles, nerves and organs in the back means that there is a wide variety of things that could potentially cause lower back pain. It’s important to talk to your doctor about the pain in order to ensure that it is musculoskeletal in nature and that it’s not indicative of a kidney or other internal issue.
Pilates can be a great solution for strengthening muscles and alleviating lower back pain. Try practicing Pilates briefly every day for our 100 Day Challenge and see if these exercises can lessen or completely get rid of the ache, by working the muscles to allow for a life that isn’t a pain in the back.