Nearly all of us will have lower back pain at some point. The World Health Organisation (WHO) state that for most this can have a ‘profound negative impact on quality of life and work performance’.
Did you know that non-specific lower back pain is responsible for up to 14% of all time off work (NICE 2018).
Here at The Medical, a large proportion of our work is combating lower back pain and we know, as physiotherapists, how this can burden heavily on your way of life.
Remember that the musculoskeletal system is forever adapting to the environment and stresses that we place upon it, meaning often we can identify risk factors and changes taking place even before you get symptoms, allowing us to prevent any pain or loss of function at all. You don’t wait to see a dentist until your teeth have fallen out, and you don’t wait to see an optician until you can no longer see the TV, so why wait until you can’t go to work, play sport, do the garden or look after your grandchildren before you see a physio?
How do we safeguard ourselves against back pain?
Identify the risk factors:
Physical inactivity – can cause weakening of the stabilising muscles around the spine and potential shortening of tissue therefore limiting movement and causing pain.
Occupational factors – such as heavy lifting and adopting a poor sitting posture.
Obesity – can put unnecessary strain on the body’s structures including the vertebrae, the intervertebral disc and soft tissues.
As health professionals, physiotherapists are able to look at some of these issues and assess where it is you may be going wrong.
Are you in pain? Are you feeling stiff and immobile?
An initial assessment with one of our team will identify the areas causing you the problem, allowing us to build a bespoke treatment plan for you.
We will then work with you in treatment sessions, getting you back on track to feeling mobile again.
If you are unsure of the cause of your lower back pain/tightness, DON’T leave it to chance. Consult one of our physiotherapists TODAY and we can provide you with an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.
The NICE Guidelines, based on the best available scientific evidence for managing lower back pain, support the use of manual therapy (mobilisation, manipulation, soft tissue techniques) as part of a package, including exercise. Our physiotherapists are trained and expert in these treatment modalities, giving you access to the best practice in healthcare, and a speedy return to fitness.
Ways to help yourself?
For those of you sitting for long periods of the day at desks, you may be asking yourself ‘how do I keep mobile whilst at work?’
1. Take your full lunch break and get away from the desk and go for a short walk. Pace out and get those arms swinging to free yourself up.
2. Strike a balance between sitting, standing and moving around. If you take a phone call can you stand instead of sit? If you print something can you walk to the printer on the other side of the office to break the pattern?
3. Use correct lifting technique. If you have to move something in the office, use a wide stance and bend from the knees as if sitting into a squat. Keep your spine in neutral and keep the load close to your body.
4. Sit smart – ensure your seat has good lower back support with armrests and a swivel base. Consider placing a pillow or rolled up towel in the small of your back to help maintain normal spinal curvature. Keep knees and hips level and don’t allow shoulders to rise up to the ears. Consult one of our team today and we can conduct a work-based assessment to finely tune your working position.
5. Stand smart – maintain a neutral pelvic position to stop asymmetries developing. To understand how to align your pelvis correctly, speak to one of our physios.
6. Exercise regularly – even if you can’t find a quiet place to exercise in the office, spend 10 minutes stretching and mobilising the lower back in the evening to promote good mobility and reduce stiffness.
Below are 3 exercises, specific for the lower back, that could be of great benefit to you:
Position yourself on all fours with your hands under your shoulders and knees under your hips
Flatten you back, take a deep breath in and as you breath out, allow your bottom to sit back on your heels and your head to drop between your shoulders, whilst keeping the hands in the same position
Repeat 8-12 times x 2 daily
Hip Flexor Stretch
Take a large step forward and slowly lower your back knee all the way to the floor.
Once stable, check your shoulders are back and keeping your feet still, move the hips forward until you feel a stretch on the front of your back leg’s thigh. Hold for 30-60 seconds and repeat on the other side
Complete x 2
Lying flat on your back with your knees bent up and feet flat on the floor, press your lower back into the floor by 50%
Holding your arms out to the side for support, allow both knees to slowly lower to the floor on one side. Return to the centre and repeat to the other side.
Try to keep your shoulders in contact with the floor at all stages to maximise the stretch.
Repeat 8-12 times rest for 30 seconds and repeat.
These exercises are by no means an exhaustive list and there are many other exercises that could be of benefit to you. However, it is key to remember that all of these should be pain-free whilst performing.
Here at The Medical Bournemouth, we pride ourselves in giving you, our clients, the toolbox to fight away pain and restriction.