Overuse and misuse of the muscles supporting your spine, poor muscle strength and inappropriate posture while sitting, standing and walking are also reasons why you may suffer from lower back pain.
Unexplained low back pain is very common, affecting about 80% of adults at some point during their lifetimes.
In the last 3 months, more than 25% of US adults report that they have experienced low back pain, which is the most common cause of job-related disability, according to the US National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS).
The direct and indirect costs associated with low back pain are immense, reaching $90-B a year in the US alone. In most cases, low back pain resolves on its own in a few days or weeks, but sometimes it persists for 12 wks or more, at which point it’s considered chronic.
It is estimated that about 20% of those who start out with acute low back pain end up with chronic low back pain, with symptoms persisting at 1 year.
While many cases of acute low back pain are due to sprains and strains caused by lifting something heavy, overstretching or twisting in an improper way, general degeneration of the spine that occurs with age can also be a culprit.
Further, researchers from Johns Hopkins noted in the journal Nature Communications that 90% of low back pain is nonspecific, meaning it has no apparent cause.
The researchers noted that even in cases of intervertebral disc degeneration, there may be no symptoms, meaning spinal degeneration is not always the reason for low back pain.
They suggested instead that an overgrowth of nerves into the cartilaginous endplates in the spine could be to blame for many cases of low back pain, and the study they conducted suggests that they are right.
Many people who see their physician for lower back pain are prescribed opioid painkillers, even though guidelines from the American College of Physicians (ACP) state individuals with lower back pain should 1st try heat wraps, exercise and other non drug solutions 1st, and prescription drugs should only be used as a last resort. Even then, opioids aren’t mentioned among the 1st-line drug options.
According to ACP: “Given that most patients with acute or subacute low back pain improve over time regardless of treatment, clinicians and patients should select nonpharmacologic treatment with superficial heat (moderate-quality evidence), massage, acupuncture, or spinal manipulation (low-quality evidence).
If pharmacologic treatment is desired, clinicians and patients should select nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or skeletal muscle relaxants (moderate-quality evidence). (Grade: strong recommendation).”
In fact, this inappropriate treatment approach to back pain is a driving force behind the opioid epidemic, according to Dave Chase, co-Founder of Health Rosetta, citing a 2018 JAMA Network Open paper.
The JAMA paper also recommends: “For chronic low back pain, comprehensive care should ideally include exercise, physical therapy, behavioral therapy, and, in some cases, complementary and alternative medicine.”
2-Minute Exercise for Back Pain
In the video at the top of this page, you will find demonstrations of Foundation Training exercises, which incorporate as many muscles into a given movement as possible, dispersing more force throughout your body, taking friction away from your joints and putting that tension into your muscles instead.
In addition to using compression breathing, you’ll want to perform the exercises barefoot and, ideally, walk barefoot as often as you can. With your shoes off, pay attention to pushing your feet into the ground.
Most people have weak feet with poor grip strength. Think of your feet as anchors for your entire body in a sea of gravity.
So, push back against gravity, stand as big, broad and as tall as you can. Try to really grab the ground with your feet by activating your arches, toes and ankles.
According to Dr. Goodman, most people will notice a difference in their body within a week or 2, within 3 weeks, you should notice profound differences, provided you are doing the exercises 5 to 10 mins every day.
You do not need to worry about recovery here, as you’re not exercising your muscles to failure, where you’re breaking down microfibrils in your muscles that would need time to repair.
It is recommended that you use a variety of Foundation Training exercises to reinforce proper movement in your body. However, if you are struggling with back pain, try this 2 min exercise, which is also demonstrated in the featured video.
For acute back pain, Dr. Goodman recommends doing this exercise as much as 10 to 20X a day. Hold each position for 10 to 20 secs.
Beyond exercise, additional tips to beat back pain include everything from sleep position and vitamins to grounding and massage therapy.
For many, a comprehensive plan works best to achieve long-term back pain relief.
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