Updated: Aug 22, 2019
Lower back pain. What a pain in the...back!
Lower back pain is the leading cause of missed-work and doctors visits. 80% of Americans will experience back pain at some point in their lives. Americans spend 50 billion on treating lower back pain when most cases can be healed on their own (and do after 6 weeks).
Back pain is on the rise. The majority of lower back sufferers spend most of their day at a desk and are female. The crazy thing is, even when they go to their primary care physician, 9 out of 10 never find out what is causing their pain. Mind-blown. It seems inexcusable to me. In my experience training and stretching people, here’s my opinion on why we get lower back pain and what to do about it.
Top 11 causes of lower back pain
Repetitive non-movement. It’s hard to un-do hours upon hours of sitting in the same position (car, desk, couch are all the same position). Postural and muscle imbalances are going to develop. Collagen is also going to be created to make you stiff because you are not moving enough.
Repetitive movement. Standing or being on your feet all day will also cause muscles imbalances because we’re moving the same way over and over. Same goes for a job that requires repetitive and specific movements, like picking up boxes.
Trauma. Physical or emotional. Physical, could be a car accident. Emotional could be anything from a miscarriage to self-loathing thoughts or emotional abuse. It has been proven emotions are stored in the body and can cause dis-ease.
Digestive issues, particularly constipation. Drinking adequate water and moving more helps with constipation. Abdominal massage, like this one, is also very helpful. As well as, diaphragmatic breathing, like this example.
Lack of sleep. Sleep equals recovery. Everything is better with good sleep. Our bodies are able to recover when we get a proper amount of sleep. Our lymphatic system is also renewed at night, flushing stagnant waste (aka stiffness) out of the body. Aim for 7.5-8 hours a day.
Not enough water. Our tissues (muscles, ligaments, fascia, etc) are like a sponge. If the sponge dries up it get stiff. This is your body without enough water. Aim for 1/2 your body weight in ounces of water and a light yellow urine (see chart below for reference).
Too much stress. Stress raises cortisol. Cortisol breaks down collagen. Ligaments are collagen. Cortisol also breaks down the gut lining, causing inflammation in the body. Having high levels of cortisol all the time negates any positive effects of cortisol.
Smoking. Smoking reduces blood flow and oxygen to your body, which can keep your body from delivering enough nutrients to the disks in your back. You’re basically starving your body of oxygen, and you’re also slowing the healing process.
Being overweight. Being overweight puts additional stress on your joints, spine and ligaments. Maintaining a proper weight can help ease that unwanted extra load.