There's no doubt that lower back muscle pain is what we generally call lumbar pain (because it affects the lumbar area), or simply "back pain".
It can start either suddenly or gradually, depending on the cause that generates it.
When it has vertebral origin the cause can be arthritis, slipped disc etc., otherwise it can simply be a matter of muscle contraction.
Most Common Causes of Lower Back Muscle Pain
Lower back pain affects about 80% of adults, but only in 20% of cases it is caused by vertebral issues.
Lower back muscle pain is usually due to six main causes:
- Posture and wrong movements: bad posture habits (especially for those who have an office type of job), along with a poor muscle tone, often causes lumbar back pain.
- Insufficient warm up: in fact, a warm muscle is always more elastic than a cold muscle, and generates less tension on the joints.
- Residual toxins: active and passive smoking, alcohol, smog environment and imbalanced diet can be some factors that contribute to back pain.
- Imbalanced strength and flexibility: this is what I insist on when I teach how to make your own workout routine. For every "pushing" exercise (bench press, shoulder press etc.) that you do, you also have to do the complementary "pulling" exercise (rower, lat machine etc.). Otherwise the risk is to develop more some muscle groups and less others, which may result in bad posture and back pain. For example, if you do ab crunches don't forget to do also lower back extensions!
- Low joint mobility and little stretching: this is similar to #2. Stretching allows, if practiced regularly, to stretch and release the muscles, thus creating less stress on the affected joints.
- Prolonged spinal disc compression: and this is similar to #1. Prolonged bad postures (example: sitting or bending forward) without much chance of movement generates discs dehydration and spinal muscular atrophy (especially if the person does not drink enough water throughout the day: 30cc per pound is ideal). If the cushions between the discs deteriorate, lower back pain can become difficult to treat.
Prevention and Treatment
Lower back pain prevention is based on simple principles, but they are very easy to forget.
First rule that you should already know: when lift any object (no matter how heavy) you should always squat and keep your back straight. Don't bend your back, when you lift make your legs do the work, not your delicate back muscles!
For example, while sitting it would be appropriate to keep your back in an ergonomic position, upright, leaning against the back rest for the entire length, with your feet flat on the ground.
When necessary it's also a good idea to place a small ergonomic pillow behind your back as an extra lumbar support.
This is what I currently use on my chair:
I am very satisfied by this little lumbar support, it's very comfortable and keeps my back upright like it should be naturally.
Working at the computer is no longer cause of lower back pain for me!
Here are my favorites lumbar supports:
I'd like to spend a word in favor of the air back cushion. It sounded stupid to use an air ball as a lumbar support but trust me, it's the only one that you can inflate as you prefer until you feel it comfortable for you.
I have a fit ball for this use. The name explains itself, in fact you can make it fit for you. It's great to use on the car seat as well.
Sometimes I also sit on my exercise ball, which forces me to keep my back upright, but I tend to get tired after a while.
Let's say that probably I couldn't use it as a 9 to 5 office chair, but who knows, maybe it's just matter of being persistent. Maybe if you don't give up you don't get tired any more...
Lower back muscle pain treatment is good to fix your back temporarily, but after that prevention is always the key.
The best treatment I've experienced is chiropractic. Many are skeptical, but I would recommend it...been there done that.
Along with chiropractic you would find back massage therapy very beneficial as well.
And of course, you can always use some anti-inflammatory gels or back pain relief pills:
- Icy Hot
- Voltarol Muscle and Joint Pain
- Bayer Back & Body
If your lower back muscle pain is quite bad, meaning that it makes it difficult for you to workout at the gym or to perform your normal daily routine (for example it affects your sleep), then go for a chiropractor combined with massage therapy and anti-inflammatory creams or analgesics.
This will certainly help relieve your pain and get you back to normal life, but it will also make you spend a bit of money (chiropractors are not cheap!).
Along with that, follow the tips I just gave you to prevent lower back muscle pain as much as possible by keeping a correct posture, and doing the correct exercises and stretches.
Trust me on this, there's so much you can do to prevent lower back pain!
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