Cautions For Your Lower Back
Its very important to pay attention to the position your spine is in when doing any sort of resistance training movement. If there is a weight in your hand, dont let your back round outward like it would when bending down to tie your shoes.
Your spine has something called intervertebral disks between them to cushion the weight of your body. These disks have a jelly-like substance in them that shifts around based on how the spine shifts from pressure on your body.
Think of the way this disk works like a half-full water balloon. Let me explain…
When the spine is in a neutral position, the pressure of the vertebrae is evenly dispersed across the disk. It’s like putting a hand on both sides of a water balloon and pressing them together.
If you bend forward and round your spine, like I mentioned above, it would be like squeezing one end of the balloon, and not the other.
Well … what happens when you do that?
When you compress one side of the water balloon, it forces all of the water to the other end of the balloon and it expands and stretches. With more pressure, that balloon may even burst.
The same thing can happen to your vertebral disk if the force on the spine gets high enough.
The further you round the spine the more weight in your hand the further away from the body the weight gets held, the more force gets put on one side of the disk. It gets worse.
This is extremely painful when this happens, so please be careful.
Treating A Pulled Back Muscle In 8 Steps
No matter where a pulled muscle is in the body, the steps to treat it are generally the same. However, its important to talk to a medical professional before treating an injury because symptoms of other injuries, such as disc problems or a broken bone, may resemble strains and sprains. After talking to a professional, try the following steps:3
Apply cold. Cold helps reduce inflammation, which is the primary source of pain in the first few days. The faster you can apply cold to a pulled back muscle, the faster you may reduce pain, help control swelling, and start the healing process. Apply a cold pack for 15-20 minutes as soon as the injury occurs. Take a break of at least 20 minutes between each cold application.
Use compression. Applying compression bandages or using an active compression system may help reduce swelling and edema so the damaged tissues can repair themselves more quickly.
Rest. Right after a muscle strain, it is important to limit your activity level and avoid movements that increase pain. After the initial pain subsides, returning to previous level of activity may help prevent the muscles from growing weak.
Stretch. According to Kojo Hamilton, MD, as you return to activity, gentle stretching exercises may improve tissue healing by bringing more blood flow to the injured area. Applying heat to the area prior to stretching may also be beneficial. Ask a doctor about the right stretches for your condition.
Anatomy Of The Lower Back
Before you can understand how important it is to have strong lower back muscles … first, you should probably know about all the muscles that make up your lower back.
There are 2 main muscle groups that cover the area along your spine and low back. These are the transversospinalis muscles and the erector spinae muscles.
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Can Lower Back Pain Be A Sign Of Something Serious Like Cancer
Lower back pain can be related to cancer. In fact, it is one of the first symptoms of prostate cancer when it metastasizes and creates lesions. Almost any cancer can spread to the back and some, like sarcoma, can originate in the back. Be cautious, especially if you are experiencing other symptoms besides lower back pain. Talk to your doctor if you have additional symptoms or concerns.
Lower Back Pain When Bending Over
If your back hurts when you bend over, you should assess the severity of the pain. If youre experiencing minor pain, it may be due to a muscle spasm or strain. If youre experiencing serious pain, you may be suffering from a herniated disc or other back injury.
Your spine and back are delicate parts of your body that can be affected by many different factors. Some of the reasons your back could hurt when you bend over include:
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Seeking Help For Lower Back Pain
You may not need to seek help from a health professional for lower back pain. Most people find their lower back pain improves by itself within a few weeks. But if there’s no improvement after two to three weeks or the pain is getting worse, seek advice from a GP or physiotherapist. It’s also worth seeking help if your back pain is stopping you from doing normal activities, or if it goes on longer than six weeks.
Physiotherapists are often best placed to help with back pain. In some areas, you may be able to self-refer to a physiotherapist on the NHS, whereas in others you need a referral through your GP. You can also choose to pay for private physiotherapy.
There are some circumstances when you should always see a doctor straightaway for back pain though. These include if:
- you have numbness or tingling around your bottom or genitals
- you cant control your bladder or bowels
- youre unsteady when you walk, or your legs or feet feel weak, you have sudden, severe lower back pain
- youve been in a major accident, such as a traffic collision or fall
- you have osteoporosis
- theres a visible deformity in your back
- the pain continues when youre lying down or overnight, disturbing your sleep
- you have a history of cancer or have had a recent bacterial infection
- you also have a fever, chills or unexplained weight loss
These can be signs of more serious problems.
Low Back Pain Should I See A Doctor
Most low back injuries will settle down with appropriate rest and treatment. However, some require further assessment and professional treatment. If you have a minor back injury, you will usually be recommended to apply the PRICE principles protection , rest, ice, and compression. Here we outline when it might be suitable to seek professional advice.
Lower back injuries occasionally require medical care, especially if they are severe. If you have symptoms or pain that lasts a long time or have an ongoing impairment, you should always be seen by a doctor or healthcare professional. These also include physiotherapists, sports therapists, chiropractors or osteopaths.
If you experience any of the following symptoms from a back injury you should seek professional medical advice:
- Severe back pain that lasts more than 24 hours.
- Dizziness or a feeling of unsteadiness.
- Significant leg pain that came on after experiencing severe back pain.
- Referred pain into the legs and/or feet following a back injury, especially if the symptoms do not decrease within 24 hours.
- Pins and needles feeling or loss of feeling in the legs or feet.
- Changes in bowel or bladder habits
- Loss of feeling at the base of the back in the saddle area
Read more on types of therapist.
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Not Sure What To Do Next
If you are still concerned about your back injury, check your symptoms with healthdirects online Symptom Checker to get advice on when to seek medical attention.
The Symptom Checker guides you to the next appropriate healthcare steps, whether its self care, talking to a health professional, going to a hospital or calling triple zero .
How Is Lumbar Strain Treated
Specific treatment for a lumbar strain will be discussed with you by your healthcare provider based on:
- Your age, overall health, and medical history
- Extent of the injury
- Your tolerance for specific medicines, procedures, and therapies
- Expectation for the course of the injury
- Your opinion or preference
- Ice packs and/or heat and compression applied to the back
- Stretching and strengthening exercises
- Education regarding the use and wearing of appropriate protective equipment
Medicines, such as anti-inflammatories and spinal injections, may also be used to relieve pain and inflammation.
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How To Recover From A Back Injury
This article was co-authored by Scott Anderson, MA, ATC, SFMA, DNSP. Scott Anderson is the Chief Clinical Officer at SyncThink, an award winning startup founded out of Stanford University. Scott previously served as the Director of Sports Medicine/Athletic Training for Stanford University for over ten years from 2007 to 2017. Scott has over 18 years of clinical and management experience, and is a recognized international speaker on topics of clinical specialization, which include developmental kinesiology, neuroscience/concussion, and movement dysfunction. He is a certified Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization Practitioner , Sports Safety Specialist and is certified to conduct Selective Functional Movement Assessments , and Functional Movement Screenings . He earned a BS in Athletic Training from Washington State University in 2000 and an MA in Athletic Administration from Saint Mary’s College in 2002. This article has been viewed 121,404 times.
If you have injured your back, either at work or otherwise, it can be a debilitating and challenging condition to recover from. However, with the right lifestyle modifications, lots of rest, and appropriate medical care, you can give yourself the best possible chance for full recovery. Note that if your back pain persists or does not start to get better shortly after the injury, it is always best to see a physician for professional advice on how to proceed.
What Is The Outlook For People With Lower Back Pain
The outlook depends on the cause of pain. Most people with back strains and sprains recover and do not have long-term health issues. But many people will have another episode within a year.
Some people have chronic back pain that doesnt get better after several weeks. Older people with degenerative conditions such as arthritis and osteoporosis may have symptoms that get worse over time. Surgery and other treatments are effective at helping people with a range of injuries and conditions live pain-free.
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What Are The Warning Signs Of A Serious Problem
Very rarely back pain or pain that travels down the leg is a sign of a serious problem.
If you have any of the following symptoms, you should seek urgent medical attention:
- difficulty controlling or passing urine
- loss of control of your bowels
- numbness around your back passage or your genitals
- serious weakness in your legs so you find standing really difficult
- severe and ongoing back pain that gets worse over several weeks.
The above symptoms could potentially be linked to a rare but serious condition that needs urgent medical attention.
How Is A Pinched Nerve In The Back Diagnosed
Your doctor will first ask you about your symptoms. Its important to provide as many details as you can, such as how long youve been experiencing pain and discomfort, how its affecting your quality of life, and whether youve recently experienced any recent injuries.
Next, your doctor will look for physical signs of trauma or other issues in your low back by checking for possible:
- limited range of motion
- changes to reflexes in your legs
- weakness in the muscles
- changes in sensation in the lower extremities
Your doctor may not be able to diagnose the pinched nerve from a physical examination alone. Additionally, they may want to know more about the cause of the pinched nerve.
They may order the following tests to get more information:
- X-ray:shows the bones in your vertebrae
- MRI:shows your soft tissues, including the discs in your vertebrae, your spinal cord, and the nerves in your lower back
- CT scan:shows a very detailed picture of your lower back and can be used to evaluate bony structures and muscles
Such imaging tests are typically ordered in the case of long-term symptoms only. For example, doctors may not order imaging tests for sciatica unless symptoms last for
- physical therapy
- other lifestyle adjustments
Sometimes your doctor will need to treat the pinched nerve with more invasive measures, such as spinal injections or surgery.
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Lower Back Pain: What Could It Be
Do you have lower back pain? You are not alone. Anyone can experience lower back pain at any time, even if you dont have a prior injury or any of the risk factors. It is not always serious and can often get better on its own. But in some cases pain is your bodys way of telling you that something isnt right.
Learn more about lower back pain and what causes it from rehabilitation physician Akhil Chhatre, M.D., who specializes in back pain in the Johns Hopkins Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.
Why Is Lower Back Pain Such A Common Problem
The bottom part of your back typically has just five vertebrae fewer than your neck and mid-back. And these vertebrae do a lot of heavy lifting! Your lower back is where your spine connects to your pelvis, bearing the weight of your upper body. This area experiences a lot of movement and stress, which may lead to wear, tear and injuries.
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What Causes A Back Strain Or Sprain
Twisting or pulling a muscle or tendon can result in a strain. It can also be caused by a single instance of improper lifting or by overstressing the back muscles. A chronic strain usually results from overuse after prolonged, repetitive movement of the muscles and tendons.
A sprain often occurs after a fall or sudden twist, or a blow to the body that forces a joint out of its normal position. All of these conditions stretch one or more ligaments beyond their normal range of movement, causing injury.
In addition, several factors can put a person at greater risk for a back strain or sprain, including:
- Curving the lower back excessively
- Being overweight
- Having weak back or abdominal muscles, and/or tight hamstrings .
Playing sports that involve pushing and pullingsuch as weightlifting and footballalso increases the risk of a low back injury.
How Goodpath Can Help
A back strain can be painful and frustrating. These movements are designed to lessen your discomfort from the strain.
In addition to these exercises, there are other solutions that can help ease your back pain.
Take Goodpaths personalized assessment today. After analyzing your answers, we will build you a personalized treatment plan based on your medical history, your symptoms, and your lifestyle.
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Gentle Stretching And Exercise
One of the best things you can do to help your back feel better is to move. By staying perfectly still and doing nothing, you can set yourself up for more pain and a longer recovery time. Instead, you should continually stretch and move as you heal.
Remember to take it slow for at least two weeks after you experience back pain. You wont be as fast or strong as you are used to during recovery, which is accepted and appropriate. By taking your time, you are helping your body stretch and maintain your strength without putting unnecessary strain that could exacerbate your existing injury.
Exercises To Help Lower Back Pain
The exercises below are meant to strengthen and improve flexibility in your muscles to support your lower back. Lower back pain may be recurring or a one-time experience. Doing these back strengthening exercises daily will ease lower back pain and prevent future episodes by strengthening your abdominal, hip, and back muscles.
Knee to Chest Stretch
This stretch is an easy way to warm up for your workout.
âStep 1: Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
âStep 2: Use both hands to pull one knee into your chest.
âStep 3: Tighten your abdominals and press your spine to the floor. Hold for 5 seconds.
âStep 4: Return to the starting position and repeat on the other side.
You can repeat this stretch 2 to 3 times in the morning and at night.
Lower Back Rotational Stretch
This is another easy stretch to get your muscles ready to move.
âStep 1: Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
âStep 2: Keep your shoulders firmly on the floor, roll your bent knees to one side and hold for 5 to 10 seconds.
âStep 3: Return to the starting position and repeat on the other side.
You can repeat this 2 to 3 times in the morning and night.
Glute Bridges Exercise
This exercise aims to strengthen your glute and abdominal muscles.
âStep 1: Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
âStep 3: Hold the position as long as you can, starting with 3 deep breaths. Then return to the starting position.
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About Lower Back Pain
Lower back pain is pain in the area of your back from the bottom of your ribs to the top of your legs. It can come from any of the many structures that make up your back. These include bones, joints, muscles, ligaments, nerves and tendons.
Your spine supports your back. Its made up of 24 separate bones called vertebrae stacked on top of one another. The lower section of your spine is called the lumbar spine. Below the vertebrae, at the bottom of your spine, are bones called your sacrum and coccyx. You may hear lower back pain referred to as lumbosacral pain.
Discs of cartilage sit between each vertebra, acting as shock absorbers and allowing your spine to bend. Some lower back pain originates from these discs. Your spinal cord threads through the vertebrae, carrying nerve signals between your brain and the rest of your body. If nerves at the base of your spine become compressed or inflamed, it can cause sciatica. Sciatica is a type of pain that starts in your back or buttocks and spreads down your leg.
Its usually difficult for doctors to say exactly whats causing back pain. This is because there are so many different parts to your back and tissues that surround it. Even tests such as X-rays and magnetic resonance imaging scans arent helpful for most people.