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As important as knowing what to do when you have lower back pain, is knowing what not to do to in order to avoid further pain or re-injury…
The human spine naturally forms an S shape, with the spine curving forwards at the lower back, outwards at the middle back and forwards again at the neck. When we sit most of us have a tendency to slump, which reverses the natural curve of the lower back. In this slumped position the muscles and ligaments at the bottom of the back are stretched and more pressure is placed on the discs which is why sitting is a common factor in many low back complaints. A lumbar roll can assist in preserving the normal alignment of the lower back and help to alleviate neck and lower back pain. While many chairs have a built-in lumbar support, it is often inadequate to properly support the lower back because most chairs are designed for people of an “average” build.
If your chair doesn’t have any lumbar support, or the lumbar support isn’t substantial enough for your body type a lumbar roll is an inexpensive but effective addition. They are also very useful for cars which often have a bucketed seat shape putting your spine into a slumped position. The McKenzie lumbar rolls are very good quality and come in a variety of sizes to suit most people needs. They also comes with an adjustable elastic strap, making fitting and moving the rolls very easy.
Although holding a good posture when sitting can reduce low back stresses, holding any one posture for a prolonged period of time will still lead to increases stiffness and tension. You should therefore get up and move regularly. Those with acute lower back pain should avoid sitting for longer than 20 min without getting up. Microbreaks are a perfect way to break up periods of sitting and get the spine moving again.
When we talk about strengthening the lower back most peoples’ first thought is sit ups. However, sit ups are not a good exercise of choice for most people and especially for back pain sufferers. Sit ups place a large load on the spine which often worsens low back complaints. The trunk muscles can be more effectively and safely trained with alternative exercises such as side bridge, birddog and plank progressions.
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This post was written by Steffen Toates. Steffen is a chiropractor at Dynamic Health Chiropractic in Jersey, Channel Islands. For more information about Steffen click here.