Low Back Pain (LBP) is the leading cause of disability in the United States. Low back pain can prevent a person from working, sleeping well, or staying mobile to maintain a healthy lifestyle. It has become clear in recent research that imaging does not always correlate with pain. This means that people who may show abnormalities on an x-ray or MRI, may actually be asymptomatic and in contrast, people with no abnormalities seen on imaging may actually have low back pain. The cause of this pain is neurophysiological and physical therapists can help to reduce the pain by helping improve the body’s response to physical activity.
To help reduce a person’s LBP, PTs often focus on enhancing muscular balance by improving the strength of the core/abdominal muscles and stretch the tight surrounding musculature that could be inhibiting proper movement. When working to improve muscular imbalances, we reduce the load and forces that the lumbar spine may be experiencing, ultimately reducing low back pain and beginning a pain free life.
Here are some tips and guidelines to prevent/improve LBP
Carry an object close to you and use your legs: When moving an object of any weight from the floor, it is important to remember proper form. This means pushing the hips backwards, bending at your hips and knees, maintaining an upright spine, and holding the object as close to your body as possible. When standing, maintain closeness to the object as you are moving. This significantly reduces strain on the low back and allows your leg muscles to do most of the work.
Sit with proper posture: As mentioned in previous blogs and videos, maintaining good posture will help reduce stress on the low back. It is great to use tactile and visual cues to remind yourself throughout the day to maintain good posture.
Watch the following videos to learn how to improve range of motion:
Watch the following videos to learn how to perform stabilization exercises:
Written by: Dr. Sara Polito, PT, DPT