Lower back pain has become one of the most common ailments these days. People experiencing back pain are not always people with severe ailments. In many cases, the pain may be due to very simple reasons which can be dealt within a few weeks. Some common causes are:
- Posture: In this age of computers, when most of us are hunched over the keyboard, lower back pain due to an uncomfortable chair or incorrect posture while sitting, standing or walking is common.
- Weak musculature: In most people who lead a sedentary life, muscles become weak with disuse.
- Urinary tract infections: Urinary tract infections are one of the common causes of back pain but not many people realise it. If you have been suffering from the dull ache for a long time and have tried physiotherapy or other strengthening exercises with no avail, this just might be the reason for the pain.
- Over-exercising: Trying to do too much in one day or overusing lower back muscles while exercising could cause pain. For instance, while doing bicep curls, most people have a tendency to swing the lower back and move it back and forth. This can cause back pain.
- Excess body weight: If you are overweight and most of your weight is concentrated on your abdomen, you may suffer lower back ache from time to time.
- Stress and depression: Several recent studies point out that stress and depression can be another cause of back pain.
When to see a doctor?
According to the American Medical Association, you must see a doctor immediately:
- If pain shoots down your leg or arm with or without back pain.
- If there is numbness in your leg, foot, arm or hand.
- If the back pain prevents you from sleeping or lasts longer than two weeks.
- If you find a loss of bladder control or bowel movement.
- If back pain began suddenly and is accompanied by fever and/or chills or any of the above symptoms.
- If the back pain started after you had a fall.
However, if you have none of the above severe symptoms and have just been ignoring that dull ache in the lower back which surfaces from time to time, here are five simple suggestions to relieve the pain:
- Lose weight: By following a healthy diet and regular exercise, you will be able to strengthen your abdominals and hip muscles, which support the lower back and make it stronger. You will be surprised that as little as a weight loss of 2-4 kg can make a great difference to your health and can actually rid you of the pain entirely.
- Change your mattress: Cotton mattresses do not support your back as well as foam and coir ones do. Especially, if your cotton mattress has become old and lumpy, it is the right time to make the switch.
- Improve your posture: Benefit from the right posture while sitting, standing and walking.for life!
- Exercise daily: Any exercise, be it walking, swimming, cycling, or doing a regular gym work-out will help to keep you stay fit and your muscles strong.
Here are some simple strengthening exercises that you can do daily to keep your back strong and supple. These stretches should ideally be done after some kind of exercise or warm-up. It would be best if you took a walk for 25-30 minutes and then performed these stretches.
- Buttock stretch: Lie flat on your back with both knees bent, then, bring one knee to your chest. Hold it for 20 seconds and then bring the other knee.
- Cat and camel: Go down on all fours keeping your palms and knees equidistant from each other. Slowly arch your back in and raise your head. Hold the pose for 20 seconds and then arch your back up like a camel's hump with your head down. Hold this pose also for 20 seconds.
- Bridge: Lie flat on your back with your knees bent and arms by your side. Then, slowly lift your butt off the floor and hold for at least 10 seconds.
- Pretzel stretch: This stretch helps in stretching your butt and relaxing your back. Sit straight with your legs straight ahead of you, then bend one knee, cross this leg over the other and hold it with your hands for 20 seconds. Repeat the procedure with the other leg.
- Preacher stretch: You can finish your stretches with this one. Simply sit back on your haunches and lean forward keeping your hands straight ahead of you. Hold the pose while breathing slowly for 30 seconds.
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