What Should I Do About Lower Back Pain?

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41550667 - close up of a man holding his back in pain

Surprisingly, Americans spend a total of $50 billion on physical and rehabilitative therapy for lower back pain. While some cases may be more extreme than others, there are alternative ways to relieving back pain, many that can be completed in the comfort of your own home. Below are four ways to help relieve lower back pain. If you’re still experiencing pain or find it difficult to get through these tips comfortably, consult your doctor immediately to find a permanent solution to this issue.
1.       Stretch, stretch, and stretch some more! Many lower back pain cases are caused by prolonged inactivity. Here are some simple ways to stretch your back muscles:
a.       Static back: Find a comfortable spot on the floor and lie down on your back. Both legs should be bent at right angles resting upon a chair. Hands should be either on your stomach or palms up while your arms are outstretched at your side below shoulder level. Breathing should come from the stomach while the lower back relaxes. Hold this position for 5-10 minutes.
b.      Static Extension: This helps the back extend properly. First, kneel with your hands on the floor underneath your shoulders as your head relaxes towards the floor. Allow shoulder blades to come together and create an arch in your back. Elbows should be kept straight and hips should be shifted 6-8 inches so they aren’t aligned with the knees. Hold this position for 1-2 minutes.
c.       Supine Groin Stretch: Lie down on the floor with one leg resting on a chair. Your knee should bent at 90 degrees. Your other leg should be extended straight out, lying on the floor (this foot should be sitting upright to prevent rolling to one side). Both of your legs need to be aligned with your hips and shoulders. Hold position for 10 minutes, complete on the other leg.
d.      Modified Floor Block: For this stretch, you will lie down on your stomach. Your forehead should be on the floor and your feet should be turned in towards each other (also known as “pigeon toed”). Elbows should be resting on blocks or books so that your arms are off of the floor. Shoulders should be level as you breathe deeply and relax. Your bodyweight will fall to the floor during this position. Hold for 6 minutes.
2.       Focus on your trigger points. Tension is a major cause of body pain and trigger points are the home base for this pain. While it may be presumed that the pain is coming from one particular area of your body, it may be an issue surrounding the area rather than one main central point. Gently massaging the trigger points 5-7 times per day for 30 seconds one minute at a time is recommended. Simply easing the area of tension can cause a big difference. Once the trigger point is found, apply pressure in smooth strokes and massage in one direction. Some common trigger points of lower back pain are the gluteus medius (the middle top region of your gluteus maximus), your deep spinal muscles (these run along the left side of your spine), and the quadratus lumborum (muscles that are from the left to right around your back, located under the rib cage)
3.       Give yourself a deep tissue massage. Using a back roller intended solely for massages, roll over the area for 30-60 seconds. This method applies pressure while easily relieving tension. Areas effective for this method are hip flexors and quads, the lower back/thoracic spine, and hip abductors.
4.       Practice static stretches. These differ from the first set of stretches, as these resemble poses found in the practice of yoga.
a.       Hip Flexor: Place one leg in front of you and the other behind you. While keeping your back straight, push your back leg up. Flex your gluteus maximus and clench the abs.
b.      Runner’s Quad Stretch: While standing, bend one knee and pull your foot towards your gluteus maximus. Your back should be kept straight and your glutes should be clenched.
c.       Child’s Pose: Sit on your knees and lean forward until your forehead is resting on the floor. Arms should be stretched out overhead, resting on the floor with your palms facing down. You can repeat this twice for 30 seconds each.
d.      Pigeon Pose: Lie down on your stomach with your elbows resting on the floor (as if you are about to plank). Bring one leg up underneath you, resting across your abdomen. These can be repeated twice for 30 seconds each.