Managing Back Muscle Pain
Back Muscle Pain
Our back is a complex structure, and it provides support for our pelvis, ribcage, arms, pelvis and skull. Our spine is made up of bones that are called vertebrae. The bones are stacked together to form a ‘S’ shaped column. Our vertebra is cushioned by discs which are spongy tissue. The discs act like a shock absorber and give our spine flexibility. Our spinal cord runs through the centre of the vertebral column and this connects our brain to the rest of our bodies. There is a complex layer of muscles that provide structural support and allow us to move.
Why do we get Muscle Back Pain
Doctors don’t fully understand the causes of back pain. Most people with pain in their backs don’t have damage to their spine, which is significant. The pain usually comes from the muscles, joints and ligaments.
Some common causes of back pain are arthritis, ligament and muscle strains, sciatica, bulging intervertebral disc, osteoporosis, stress and structural problems. Often is it our lifestyle that will contribute to back pain. This may include being overweight, lack of exercise, sitting for long periods of time, poor posture and stress.
It might seem obvious that the key to preventing muscle back pain is to keep our back strong and flexible. Often muscle back pain can be prevented by making a few lifestyle changes.
- Regular Exercise – doing regular exercise is the key to a healthy back. Exercise helps to improve your posture and will increase muscle support of your spine. 30 minutes of moderate physical activity will be of huge benefit. Core muscle strengthing will provide stability to your joints and improve functionality. Stretching exercises will help you to maintain flexibility, and stretching our backs means our muscles are more supple and therefore less prone to injury. Yoga and pilates are both good sessions to help to strengthen our backs.
- Try a Water Workout – Back muscle pain can be very debilitating, and it can be tempting to head to the couch when back problems hit. It might be a better option for your health to head to the pool instead!
A water workout, when done gently and safely, can help alleviate back muscle pain and even prevent back problems from getting worse. Our back can become weak when we don’t exercise and this can result in backache. A water workout is a low impact activity that can condition and strengthen the right muscles to help support our spine, which will, in turn, help with back muscle pain. What is great about water workouts is that unlike working out on land, the water provides a cushion that takes stress off our backs. You can move more freely and this will minimize the risk of injury.
It will suit any age and level of fitness and the workouts are modified to suit different conditions and goals. A water workout can be just as effective as hitting the gym and it is much gentler on your body. The water will support your weight up to 90 per cent, which puts less pressure on your joints and spine and this also increases your range of motion. The water also provides at least 12 times greater resistance than air, so just moving in the water will challenge your body. You can build muscles without the risk of injury. The pushing through the water will improve blood flow to your muscles and the aquatic exercise will improve your heart and lung function by making them work against the pressure of the water.
Being in the water is soothing and relaxing and people say it helps diminish the perception of pain, especially back muscle pain. There are many water exercises to try. The best movements for back problems are those done in a standing position as people who experience backache often find standing the most comfortable position.
The aim is to build strength in the back, abdominal and hip muscles and to strengthen the muscles around your core as this will protect your back and improve posture and balance as well as improving back muscle pain. Try water walking, knee to chest, kickboard balance, superman stretch, water aerobics and lap swimming. Remember that whatever you choose, it’s important to protect your back from injury, so choose the right pool so that you can work in different depths or have your own lane when you need it. Make sure the water temperature is between 82 and 8 degrees which is the recommended temperature for exercise. Always warm up first to prevent injury, especially if you already have back problems. Stay hydrated, as this can be forgotten when you’re in the water. Wear water shoes if you are concerned about balance or stability as they are made of water-resistant fabric and have soles with traction. Most importantly, have fun while you exercise.
- Manage your weight and carry less –Trying to maintain a healthy weight will lessen the strain we inflict on our back.
We also add unnecessary strain and stress to our neck and spine when we carry heavy briefcases, suitcases and laptop bags. It might be time to carry less and buy a bag with wheels to keep weight off our back.
- Develop good posture – Its easy to forget the importance of good posture. Be aware of good posture, particularly when sitting at your desk or at home or in the car. Try not to slouch. Support like a lumbar or footstool might be a good purchase. It is important to take regular breaks to stretch your back as this will help change the position of your joints and it will loosen your muscles. This should be done every hour. Regularly remind yourself to sit upright in your chair and to roll back rounded shoulders.
- Mindfulness and relaxation – It could be helpful to learn some relaxation techniques which can reduce stress levels and muscle tension. Gentle exercise and massage, along with cold or heat pack, can relieve muscle tension. Mindfulness is a different form of meditation and it has been scientifically proven to reduce levels of pain.
- Sleep and shoes – A medium to firm mattress is said to be the best for helping to prevent back pain. It’s important that you have enough support to your shoulders and hips without the mattress sagging. It should keep your back straight. Avoid a pillow that pushes your neck into a steep angle and its best not to sleep on your stomach too much.
The shoes we wear are worth considering. They should be flat as this will put the least amount of strain on your back. High heeled shoes can cause damage to your back if you wear them too frequently. One inch is the maximum heel height suggestion.
Suffering from back pain can be extremely debilitating for some people. While most people will have pain in their lower backs at some point in time, it seems like muscle back pain will heal within several days. Prevention, like in most things, is the best course of action. Its important to first of all consult your doctor about your pain as it can be uncomfortable and debilitating. If you feel any tingling or numbness or the pain does not go away after a few days, then you should see a doctor. The reason for back pain is multiple and you can be affected at any age for different reasons. Muscle back pain can be relieved by using an ice pack and even over counter pain reliever. We have looked at a number of things we can do that might help prevent muscle back pain and help with keeping our backs at their best.