Exercises for Lower Back Pain

Low back pain is a common issue for adults, whether it is acute, chronic, or both, and it accounts for more disability than any other condition worldwide.

Data from a national survey indicate that at least one-fourth of adults in the United States have experienced low back pain in the past three months. Additionally, research indicates that as many as 80% of adults will experience low back pain at some point in their lives. This means that even if you haven’t experienced it yet, there is a good chance that you will in the future, especially given that back pain gets more common as you get older.

Overuse injuries (from doing the same kind of exercise over and over), muscle or ligament strains or sprains, trauma (from falling, for example), degenerative discs, spinal stenosis, osteoarthritis, and osteoporosis are all common causes of lower back pain, according to experts. Another major factor: sedentary lifestyle. A 2019 study published in the journal Applied Ergonomics found that call center workers with chronic low back pain were more likely to sit still.

According to Gillanders, you can use a foam roller to release tension in the lower back and apply an ice pack or heat (whichever you prefer) to alleviate short-term or chronic low back pain. According to Alex Garreau, a physical therapist at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, diaphragmatic breathing can also be beneficial. Allow your belly to expand with air as you slowly inhale, and then slowly exhale, allowing your belly to contract. Garreau explains, “This slows down your breathing, which can slow down pain signals and have a calming effect.”

Some warning signs of lower back pain: Stacey Cladis, a physical therapist at Northwestern Medicine in Chicago, advises calling your doctor right away if the pain radiates down one of your legs, if you experience numbness, weakness, or tingling in one (or both) of your legs, or if your bowel or bladder function changes. These symptoms could be caused by spinal cord compression or nerve compression. Also, it’s a good idea to see a doctor if the pain lasts longer than a week or prevents you from doing the things you need to do.

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