Protecting, strengthening and nourishing your lower back are essential to reducing your lower back pain and for supplementing your medical treatments and recovery.
In concert with your medical treatments, consider adding these 3 easy things to your routine to help take stress off your lower back and help it heal:
1. Use a stand-up desk for at least part of your day
Studies have shown that too much sitting is a common cause of lower back pain.1 Your posture while sitting, especially while leaning forward to look at a computer screen, changes the natural alignment of the lower spine and puts an unusually heavy load on the lumbar discs, joints, and other structures.
To avoid prolonged sitting, many people are turning to standup desks for at least part of their workday. Standup desks now come in a variety of shapes, functionality, and price points – from inexpensive desk toppers to fully adjustable, automatic, sleek models.
If you have lower back pain, it is best to start with standing for only part of the day and gradually increase your stamina. You can add a cushioned mat under your feet for additional comfort. Standing more, combined with a brief walk or gentle stretch every half hour to break up long periods of sitting, will make a big difference in the health and integrity of your lower back.
2. Stretch your hamstrings daily
Many people don’t realize that their hamstrings, the large muscles that run down the back of each thigh, can easily become too tight. Overly tight hamstrings transfer stress across your lower back and can contribute to back pain.
There are many hamstring stretches that are gentle on your back and easy to do: pick one or two that appeal to you and will be easy to incorporate it into your daily routine.
3. Sleep in a slightly reclining position
Many people with lower back pain feel more supported when their lower back is supported in a slightly reclined position, with the knees supported and elevated. This is especially true for several lower back diagnoses, such as osteoarthritis, spinal stenosis, and lumbar degenerative disc disease.
If you find it difficult to sleep on your back, you may want to try resting in this position in a reclining chair and/or in your bed while reading before going to sleep.
To sleep most comfortably in a supported, reclined position, consider switching to an adjustable bed, also called an adjustable base. These models are not just for hospitals anymore: there has been a flood of options available to buy directly, ranging from a basic model to sophisticated functionality and options.
One newer development is that many online mattress sellers offer a mattress base that is fully adjustable, and some offer free delivery and in-home setup. If you are considering a new mattress, consider adding an adjustable base that is made to go with that mattress, as the combination may work to really help your back.
As you well know, medical treatments tend to be costly, time consuming, and over time can become emotionally draining. We encourage you to supplement your treatment program with whatever you can do on a daily basis to help your lower back.
- Gupta N, Christiansen CS, Hallman DM, Korshøj M, Carneiro IG, Holtermann A. Is objectively measured sitting time associated with low back pain? A cross-sectional investigation in the NOMAD study. PLoS ONE. 2015;10(3):e0121159.