How to avoid injury & pain in your lower back

Ouch, that hurt!

There are times when you are at a higher risk of causing injury & pain to your lower back than others, but do you know how to identify these times and events? Why can doing something as simple as picking up a loaf of bread cause more pain than doing something more challenging?

Fortunately there are some simple steps you can take to avoid injury and pain in your lower back.

Two Critical Moments

When it comes to your lower back and injury risk, there are two critical times when you need to be especially careful.

Number one is first thing in the morning. Your back can be swollen at that time – you are substantially taller and the discs between the vertebrae have extra fluid in them. A careless forward bend or twist first thing in the morning can do substantial damage to your discs or other back structures.

Number two is any time after you have been sitting for an extended period of time. Long car drives or airplane trips are especially challenging because your ligaments and tendons lengthen into the position that you have been in and therefore may not provide the proper protection that they would normally. When you first get up from sitting, you are at risk of causing injury & pain in your lower back. The longer you have been sitting, the higher the risk. If you sit more upright, with good lumbar support, you will lessen this risk.

Common events that can contribute to injury & pain in your lower back

Here are some common events that can contribute to injury & pain in your lower back. Keep in mind that in all of these scenarios, your back was already vulnerable.

Scenario #1: You didn’t sleep well last night, perhaps from sleeping in an unfamiliar bed after travel, after sitting too long. You get up, feel stiff, but ignore it. You sit down in a soft chair to enjoy your morning tea or coffee. When you get up you feel a sudden sharp stab in the back.

Scenario #2: You get up from sleeping and more or less instantly sit at your laptop, getting entranced by a video, article, email or social media. You end up staying on one position for far longer than you planned. When you eventually move and get up you find that you can’t completely straighten up.

Scenario #3: You awake, get up and make your morning tea or coffee, which wakes up your gut, meaning you need to visit the bathroom. You are a bit constipated and have to strain. When you get up from the toilet, your back spasms.

Why can all of these senarios happen?

Overnight sleeping, even a good sleep on your favorite bed, leaves your back somewhat swollen. Swollen may be an exaggeration, but the reality is that there is extra fluid in all of your joints.

If you have a good back, none of this matters. If you have a vulnerable back, it all matters. Ideally, when you get up, you should do some kind of activity that warms up and “wrings out” the excessive fluids. A short walk or simple movements can really make a difference. Sitting down at the computer or sitting on the toilet etc. straight away can cause you problems.

Unfortunately most of us have what could be considered a bad back, at least in the sense that our backs can be subject to injury and pain at any time. In fact, studies suggest that as many as eight in 10 people experience low back pain during their lifetime.

How to avoid injury & pain in your lower back

Don’t bend over immediately after sitting. Sitting, even with good posture, puts you at risk. The longer you sit and the worse the seat, the more at risk you are. Air travel is one of the worst ways to travel as it’s hard to get up and move around because of the limited amount of space coupled with the fact that the minute the plane stops you bend over and get stuff from under the seat, or reach up and twist in order to get your bag from the overhead compartment. After sitting for such a longe period of time give yourself at least a few seconds of backward bending and/or moving around to reset your spine. Then you can carefully, using your hips rather than your back, bend over to pick up something.

Sit, don’t slump. A slumped posture increases the risk of injury & pain, making it more likely for something bad to happen to your discs, joints or muscles. Sit up straight, keeping your back in neutral by using a lumbar roll, which prevents the lumbar spine from slumping forward, keeping you more upright. If you don’t have a lumbar roll then you can make one using a towel:

  1. Roll up a towel long ways.
  2. Place tape around towel about 5 inches from either end.
  3. Place middle of towel in the small of your back.
  4. Drape both ends up and over the back of the chair so that the towel supports either side you spine in the chair.
  5. The towel should make a “U” shape

Talk to your chiropractor about these and other high-risk movements in order to avoid injury & pain in your lower back and what you can do to relieve / avoid it altogether. Call us at Bristol on 0117 9298384

From the Team at Archibald Chiropractic Clinics
"Treating the cause, not the symptoms"
Dowry Chiropractic Clinic Established in 1987 – Experienced Bristol Chiropractors