People who have suffered from lower back pain know that some types of movement do not feel good, however, there is increasing support that physical activity may help with lower back pain. Decades ago a complaint of lower back pain typically resulted in a healthcare professional restricting a patient’s movement to bed rest. Today, the guidelines are changing and more professionals are instead recommending that patients stay active as they recover.
The chiropractor is where many individuals who are experiencing lower back pain turn to for specific exercises and therapies that may be able to help them recover from that pain faster than if they had resorted to bed rest for a few days.
About Lower Back Pain
Each year, people miss work, appointments, and daily activities due to back pain. Typically, pain is sustained from basic movements such as bending, twisting, or lifting. Symptoms associated with lower back pain can include:
- Pain in the back in the form of an aching, stabbing, or shooting sensation
- Pain in one or both legs
- Limited range of motion for the body
- Inability to perform normal daily activities
While these symptoms can be painful and debilitating at times, the good news is that physical activity may help with lower back pain. There may be additional ways to prevent this type of pain from happening again such as regularly exercising, keeping muscles strong, and maintaining a healthy weight.
How Physical Activity May Help with Lower Back Pain
Two primary muscle groups support the back, deep muscles and superficial muscles. Each support different types of movements of the body.
- Deep Muscles. These muscles can act as stabilizers for the spine which in turn helps an individual maintain a healthy posture. The best way to care for these muscles is to keep them active.
- Superficial Muscles. As the name would indicate, these muscles are closer to the surface of the back and are used primarily for twisting and bending motions. Caring for these muscles well should include strengthening exercises such as lifting weights.
Keep in mind that for both the deep and superficial muscles to stay healthy, the solution is to keep them active so they remain strong for optimal performance. Now consider what laying in bed for several days could do to these muscles. That particular action requires little back muscle activity which means that not only are the muscles not being strengthened, they could actually be weakening.
Essentially the deep muscles are idle while a person is laying in bed. If on bed rest for several days, the muscles could weaken to the point that they may not be in the best working order when a person returns to normal activities. As a direct result, a person’s superficial back muscles may then try to overcompensate for that weakness. This can cause a number of additional problems such as stress on parts of the body where there should not be and therefore an increased risk for musculoskeletal injuries.
The effects of bed rest versus continued activity for lower back pain have been and continue to be evaluated. Some studies have followed a sample size of adults with varying levels of activity in their daily lives over the period of several years. MRI results for sample groups such as these typically show that those people who lived a more sedentary lifestyle and were less physically active reported experiencing a higher incidence of back pain, loss of disk height, reduced function, and back muscle fat build up.
Chiropractic Treatment of Lower Back Pain
Chiropractic treatment of lower back pain is designed to help relieve pain, strengthen the back muscles, and present better posture on a daily basis. It generally does not include the issuing of prescription or over the counter drugs to help combat pain. For many individuals who fear becoming addicted to certain pain-relieving medications, non-medicinal chiropractic remedies from a chiropractor can provide a better solution.
Although a patient may primarily be complaining of lower back pain, a chiropractor will still likely perform a physical examination. This is due in large part to the fact that although pain may be presenting in one area of the body, it could be caused by something happening in a different part of the body. A chiropractor will often watch the way a patient moves for indications of other issues at work in the body.
A short patient intake is necessary as well. Particularly if the patient has had a past back injury or surgery, this will be critical information to share with the chiropractor as it may have some bearing on the patient’s current status. Patients may also be asked about their occupation and daily activities to paint a broader picture of how they use their body every day.
Aside from the obvious wishes of a patient to feel less lower back pain, the chiropractor will question them about their specific goals such as being able to get back into the gym for weightlifting or being able to play unhindered with their kids or grandkids. This information will play a key role in what type of treatment plan and frequency of sessions is needed for them to reach those goals.
When it comes to chiropractic treatment of lower back pain, some recommended therapies may include:
- Exercises designed to strengthen the deep muscles for improved lower back stabilization
- Exercises designed to build up the strength of the superficial muscles of the back to avoid irritation or injury when twisting or bending
- Nutritional guidance to help patients keep their weight at a more manageable level that will put less stress and pressure on the spine and back muscles
Although physical activity may help with lower back pain, each patient’s treatment journey will be different due to their own individual health status and circumstances. Most treatment plans will require multiple visits to the chiropractor as well as a prescription for commitment to specific at-home exercises and nutritional lifestyle changes.
The fact that physical activity may help with lower back pain is bringing hope to thousands of people who want to minimize their pain while strengthening their back, and all without bed rest or a medication regimen. If you or a loved one are experiencing lower back pain, consider a consultation with an experienced and reputable Kingwood chiropractor today.