What Causes Lower Back Pain?

What Causes Lower Back Pain

Our back side (posterior) of the body sustains a majority of the injuries mainly because we neglect major muscle groups such as rear deltoids / upper back, lumbar region (lower back), as well as hamstrings. These three weaknesses create front / back imbalance of strength and flexibility and lead to the three most common injuries in active as well as inactive people: shoulder, back, knee injuries. Here is a question that requires a long answer as lower back pain can stem from many causes:

Why do lower back muscles get tight in the morning? What things should I be considering before going ahead? A little advice would go a long way right now. Thanks.

Assuming stiffness and not injury, there are many reasons for lower back discomfort. Could be the fact you were on your feet all day or lifting heavy objects incorrectly. I asked one of my workout partners, chiropractor Dr. Steve Erle DC and he gave me the laundry list of potential causes to having lower back pain. As Dr Erle says, "You can either live with the pain or do something about it."

Here is a list of things Dr. Steve and I came up with to narrow the answer:

1. Your bed is not good. You need a firm mattress (not too soft / not too hard). Your bed should form to the shape of your body.

2. The way you sleep:

a) if you sleep on your belly your lower back stays tight all night

b) if you sleep on your back your back is allowed to relax - this supports your spine.

c) If you sleep on your side put a rolled up blanket or pillow between your knees.

3. Stay hydrated! Sore muscles could be thirsty

4. Weak abs / lower back muscles - could just need to work them more - see New Lower Back Plan.

5. Stretching keeps the pelvis as well as lumbar muscles and ligaments pliable thus allowing joints to move more freely and less susceptible to pain. Also stretch psoas and piriformis muscles as these muscles place stress on the spine from the inside causing lumbar region to contract - these are often neglected lower back muscles.

6. Beginner PT programs / lower back plan and exercise like yoga and pilates will strengthen your core muscles which support the lumbar spine.

7. Posture -- poor posture is a result of spinal issues not a cause of them. If you have noticeably poor posture you likely have a spinal problem. These are best diagnosed by a Chiropractor.

From Dr Erle - What causes Back Pain?

The quick answer is gravity. The spine is the main weight bearing structure of the body and houses the central nervous system (CNS). The more you move the more wear and tear the spine takes. Therefore pain and injury are extremely common. 80 plus percent of the world's population will experience lumbar pain at one point over a lifetime. Lumbar pain is the number one reason for visits to primary medical physicians and number two reason for work absence.

You cannot avoid the effects of gravity, but you can minimize the effects of wear and tear. How? As a dentist is to tooth decay a Chiropractor is the spinal decay. Exercise; this is not just a recommendation, it's a must. The body is designed for activity, you therefore must remain active. Low impact activities such as yoga, pilates, stretching, running, resistance training, swimming are great ways to minimize the effects of wear and tear of the spine and reduce pain. High impact activities like football, ruck marches, gymnastics and or just sleeping wrong can lead to chronic spinal issues.

Start a low impact exercise program. PT as well as other low impact activities such as yoga should be done daily. Be proactive in your health care. Don't wait for back pain, that's like waiting until your teeth hurt to brush them.

However, if you are like 99.9% of all people you are going to wait until you have back pain before you'll do anything. If you wake up one morning only with stiffness and it goes away, you are likely fine. However, if you wake up every morning this way remember the seven most dangerous words in health care, "it will go away on its own." It not go away on its own and it will get worse and be harder to fix later. If you are having back pain more than one time a week, see your local Chiropractor. These are the doctors who spend more time than any other on spine related issues.

Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. If you are interested in starting a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle - check out the Military.com Fitness eBook store and the Stew Smith article archive at Military.com. To contact Stew with your comments and questions, e-mail him at stew@stewsmith.com.

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