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Tips for reducing low back pain

Acute low back pain implies that you have had your low back pain for less than 3 months. We will all experience some acute low back pain from time to time. The following acute low back pain self-treatment tips should be followed to reduce the intensity of the acute low back pain and enhance its recovery.

In many cases recovering from low back pain requires maintaining the normal curvature of the spine. Maintaining the normal spine curve does not mean moving and walking like these is a pole strapped to you, it simply means finding your neutral position of the spine and maintaining this in daily activities. Your chiropractor and physiotherapist at Sydney Spine & Sports Centre (S3C) will help you to find this. To allow for the shortest recovery time, it is also important to support the hollow of your back. In the first 10 – 20 days after you experience acute low back pain follow these instructions:

Sitting

Humans were not designed to sit as much as we are. Regardless of how strong we are or how much we go to the gym, it is important to follow these sitting tips to promote the best health of our spines. As always, contact us at Sydney Spine & Sports Centre (S3C) if you have any questions.

  • Take regular breaks from sitting every 10-15 minutes to stand up and move around
  • Put a back support on your chair, such as a lumbar roll or rolled up towel and place it at the hollow of your back
  • Keep your hips and knees at a right angle, a foot rest can help this
  • Try not to cross your legs and instead keep your feet flat on the floor
  • Find a good sitting position when you’re not using a back support or lumbar roll

Driving

At times, driving can be much worse for your back than sitting at an office desk. When driving, it is best to use a back support, such as a lumbar roll or ‘D’ support and move the seat close to the steering wheel. In doing this, you are supporting the hollow of your back and maintaining the neutral position of the spine.

Standing

In some cases, standing can be no better than sitting. The key thing to do when standing is to take regular breaks and use a footstool to vary the load through the low back and limbs. It is best to take multiple breaks per hour where you go for a small work to neutralise gravitational loads and posture.

Squatting and kneeling

When it comes to squatting and kneeling, it is best to plan for the movement. Try to help support your back by facing the object and keeping your feet apart. Tighten your stomach muscles and use your legs, rather than relying on your back.

Lifting objects

When you have acute low back pain it is best to try to avoid lifting objects, especially heavy objects, as much as possible. However, if you are going to lift objects, the chiropractors and physiotherapists at Sydney Spine & Sports Centre (S3C) suggest:

  • Do not lift objects that are heavier than 14kg
  • Always wear solid footwear
  • When you are about to lift an item that is lower than the level of your waist, ensure your back is straight and bend at your hip and knees.
  • When lifting off from a table, push or slide it to the edge of the table so that you can access it and hold it firmly and close to your body. When picking it up, bend your knees and come up straight to a standing position.
  • To place objects down, place your feet apart, tighten your stomach muscles and bend your knees and hips, just as do when you lift an object up

Reaching overhead

When suffering with low back pain reaching overhead so cause further pain and discomfort. There are certain ways that you can reach overhead that are considerate to you low back, for example:

  • Elevate yourself by using a chair or stool to bring yourself to the level of the object you are aiming to reach.
  • Be as close to the object as possible.
  • Have a good idea of the weight of the object.
  • Never use just one hand, always use both hands.
  • Stand square on to the object so its directly in front.

Sleeping

When suffering with low back pain a poor mattress can be a constant source of irritation. Here are some simple tips from Sydney Spine & Sports Centre’s chiropractors and physiotherapists to help.

  • Sleep on a firm mattress or put a board underneath your mattress, or alternatively, put the mattress on the floor.
  • Use a back support, such as a lumbar or rolled up towel, to make your low back more comfortable and the hollow of your back more supported.
  • Do not sleep on your side with your legs curved up towards your chest. Instead, sleep in a position that will support the curvature in your back. Again, a rolled up towel can help this, between the legs.
  • When you are planning to stand up from having been in a lying down position, turn towards your side, curve both of your knees and then swing to the side of the bed. From this position, sit up by pushing yourself up with the support of your hands and avoid the motion of bending forward at the waist.

Other low back pain tips:

  • Sit in a high-back chair with supportive armrests, rather than sitting in a soft couch, which will make you round your back and won’t support your back.
  • When at work, ensure the height of your desk is adjusted so that you sit up close to your work and tilt it up to you. Be sure to relax your shoulders by keeping your arms on your chair or desk.
  • When sitting in chairs that have a turning function, make sure when you twist with it that you move your whole body, rather than just your waist
  • When moving to stand up from a sitting position, move to the front of the seat of your chair first. Then, stand up with straightened legs. Avoid bending forward at your waist and once up from the chair, stretch your back by doing 10 standing backbends (extensions)
  • Avoid activities that require you to bend forward at the waist as this will cause strain on back
  • When you feel a cough or sneeze come on, stand up, bend your knees slightly and lengthen the curve in your spine

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