written by Brian Hoke, Sports Physical Therapist
Pain in the lower back is a quite common problem that affects all age groups. The lower back bears the weight of our head, trunk, and upper extremities, and there are many structures in the lower spine that may be irritated or injured. It is estimated that 80% of adults will experience at least one episode of disabling back pain over the course of their lifetime.
Back pain may come on suddenly and often occurs when we bend forward and rotate at the same time. Trying to lift something when in this position can easily result in a lower back injury. It can also occur gradually over time, particularly with prolonged static postures such as unsupported sitting. The pain may be localized to the lower back or it may radiate to other regions such as the hip or lower extremity.
If you’re wondering how to ease lower back pain, learn more below.
4 Easy Ways to Start Addressing Back Pain
Finding pain relief in your lower back can actually be quite simple and only requires a few lifestyle adjustments to ease the pain naturally.
Avoid Sitting for Too Long
In approaching lower back pain, many medical professionals recommend avoidance of prolonged sitting due to high pressures on the lumbar discs, the rubbery gel filled spacers between the bones of the spine that can bulge or rupture from repeated stress. When sitting is unavoidable, such as traveling by plane or car, using a lumbar cushion that better matches the natural curve of the lower back can improve spinal posture and reduce some of the aches and pains originating in the lower back.
Utilize a Standing Desk
Use of a standing desk is an alternative that improves the alignment of the lower back and can be used when it is necessary to perform work at a computer or laptop. Of course, when we spend more time on our feet, our foot posture takes on a much greater significance.
Many individuals tend to overpronate, a movement where the ankles roll inward toward the arch. As the ankles do this, there are changes in the position of the legs, hips, and ultimately, the lower back. It’s a bit like building a house… the first and most critical step is to start with a foundation that is level and stable, assuring that the walls and the roof of the house will also be straight and level.
Thus, improving poor posture problems with an ergonomic desk is helpful for those trying to learn how to relieve lower back pain.
Walk Regularly for Exercise
Another recommendation in the care of those experiencing lower back pain is to use walking as an exercise. Walking can be an incredible pain reliever for those experiencing chronic pain in their lower back.
There have been multiple studies that have documented the effectiveness of walking for people who are suffering from lower back pain. Of course, the same effects of overpronation when standing still are also present when we walk. A 2018 study confirmed that overpronation in patients with back pain pulls the legs and hips inward and places greater stresses on the muscles of the hips and lower back. Overpronation results in a loss of energy absorption at the ankle, and that can translate to higher impact loads being transferred to the legs and back.
Wear Supportive Shoes
Shoes and foot health are correlated but did you know that bad shoes and lower back pain are as well? Vionic shoes are specifically designed to better conform to the natural contours of the foot in the same way that a lumbar cushion better matches the natural shape of the spine. This innovative design will provide pain relief, reduce overpronation and mitigate the potentially damaging effects of overpronation. Vionic has carefully designed athletic styles for individual walking programs as well as casual and dress styles for other daily activities.
If you are experiencing lower back pain signals, consider making some of these lifestyle changes above. By improving poor posture and addressing these symptoms from the ground up, you can ease the pain and experience comfort in your everyday life. Should your symptoms prolong and you experience chronic pain, we suggest you consult with a chiropractor and podiatrist to get to the root of the issue.
Brian Hoke is a board certified Clinical Specialist in Sports Physical Therapy, avid educator, and specializes in orthopedic and sports physical therapy.