It is super true that prevention is better than cure. For low back pain, it is especially true as it’s unlikely we will see a true cure for acute low back pain episodes discovered anytime soon. So, prevention it is!
We know that 90% of acute low back pain is non-specific and as a result of acute inflammation to the area, muscle spasm and joint stiffness generally as a result of a strain to soft tissue. So how do you stop that acute strain happening in the first place? There are going to be both intrinsic (your body) and extrinsic (outside forces) factors that will need to be addressed in effectively preventing acute low back pain.
Managing the intrinsic factors is all about ensuring you maintain flexibility, joint mobility, core stability and general conditioning and fitness. By getting the intrinsic factors right you can greatly reduce your risk of acute low back pain. How do you ensure that you’re addressing all the intrinsic factors? Regular stretching and exercise is the simple answer. It is recommended that we do at least30 mins of physical activity 5 days a week (note: this is exercise on top of your regular daily tasks). By simply ensuring that a stretching routine is part of that you are well on your way.
Simply put, if you remain active with a combination of strength and cardiovascular exercise and stretch regularly you are ticking all the right boxes.
Turning our attention to extrinsic factors. What are extrinsic factors? These are the forces and positions that act on our body. When we talk about forces, the most common force is when we are moving a load ie: pushing/pulling, lifting/placing or twisting with weight. So how do you best manage these forces? Easy! Normally, these loads are stationary so it is all about where you position yourself to the load and what technique you use. Majority of the time when people hurt their back as a result of external force the injury could have been avoided by manipulating and managing that force better. When the force is moving, this creates a lot more unpredictability and risk of injury.
HOT TIPS ON LIFTING: KEEP THE LOAD CLOSE TO YOUR CENTRE OF GRAVITY AND LIFT/PUSH/PULL/TWIST WITH YOUR LEGS NOT YOUR SPINE
The second extrinsic factor is positioning and unfortunately, more often than not they are positions we put our self in voluntarily. SITTING!!!! We all know we sit too much and what effects it has on our health, but it also has an effect on your musculoskeletal system especially your lower back. When you sit for prolonged periods the muscles around your lower back become shorter and tighter, this then reduces your flexibility and joint mobility. When you’re not moving freely due to muscle/joint tightness, although you may not have pain your muscles are being conditioned only through part of your range of movement. This means when you move into a position outside of this restricted range you do not have the flexibility, stability or support, thus, increasing your risk of soft tissue aggravation.
The best way to prevent acute low back pain is to be assessed and identify your level of risk of acute low back pain. By having an assessment with one of our experienced Physiotherapist, they can identify and minimise any risk of low back injury and ensure you stay pain free and moving well!