Back pain is VERY common, in fact up to 80% of people will have back pain at some point.(1) But not all backs are the same and there are different reasons why different backs have issues. Here we’ll go over three of the most common causes of back pain and, more importantly, how to make them feel better!
Please note: it is always better to see a professional when it comes to your back. Please book in to see one of our professional therapists to help you recover safely, efficiently, and completely from your back pain. But in the meantime, here are three of the most common causes of back pain:
Cause #1: Tight muscles
It makes sense, right? There are dozens of muscles attached to your spine. Your sacrum alone (the bottom part of your spine before your tailbone) has 36 different muscles attached to it (2). If some or all of these muscles are tight they can pull on your spine and compress the bones and joints together. And when those joints get compressed, they can cause pain.
Solution #1: Stretches
These three stretches are some of the most commonly prescribed for lower back pain, and with good reason! They address some of the biggest muscles that attach to your spine and help to take the pressure off.
Lay on your back with your knees bent. Pull one leg up so that the side of the foot rests on the thigh of the stationary leg, and pull both legs in towards your chest until you can feel a stretch in your glutes
Lay on the ground, use a towel around the ball of your foot. With your opposite knee bent, use your arms to bring the leg up straight. You can also use a wall or a chair as shown in the picture.
Cause #2: Poorly managed load
Your body is built to do work, there’s no way around it. But if your muscles aren’t doing their job properly, your spine (specifically your intervertebral discs and your facet joints) can start to take up the load and you can end up with pain. Your core and hip muscles do most of the work of supporting your spine, and you need to make sure they are doing it properly!
Here are 3 exercises to fire up your glutes and core and get the work away from your spine:
Lay on your side with your knees bent in front of you to about 90 degrees. Keep your heels together and your hips still as you lift up your top knee.
Lay on your back. Lift your hips up, squeeze your glutes and hold for a moment before lowering back down.
Start on all fours. Slowly extend your opposite arm and leg off the ground. Keep the hips still and only lift the leg to hip height and the arm to shoulder height. Return back to the starting position and repeat on the other side.
Cause #3: Acute injury
This one is tricky. You’re going along, you don’t have back pain (and maybe you never have) then something happens. Maybe it’s a collision playing in sport, maybe a car accident, maybe you just stepped off a kerb in a funny way, and all of a sudden you have a pain in your back that just won’t go away.
This is the one you want to absolutely seek medical help for, especially if you have pain going down your leg or around your inner thigh and groin area. So start by seeing your GP or go to ED.
Once you’re sure there are no medical issues, be gentle with yourself. Find positions that don’t hurt, find movements (such as rocking, below) which make you feel better, and make use of heat packs and cushions to manage any discomfort.
There’s no specific solution for this one but here is an exercise that you can try provided your GP thinks it is safe for you:
Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet crossed.
Hold your knees wide with your hands. Slowly rock backwards pulling your knees to the sides of your chest and then
The bottom line is to avoid activities that hurt, but keep moving as much as you can.
After a week or so, when things have settled down, you can try the stretches above to get you moving again and eventually move onto the core and hip exercises when you feel able. Better yet, book an appointment and we’ll help you work out a comprehensive plan!
Back pain can feel mysterious but there is always a cause. And once you know the cause you can address it. Noone needs to live with mysterious back pain. If you’re experiencing back pain in Canberra then come to one of our ‘Fix Your Back’ sessions (LINK?) in our clinic or book in to see one of our clinicians for a comprehensive, personalised treatment program to get you out of pain and back doing the things you love!