Lower back pain and stiffness affects millions of people. In fact, four out of five people will experience lower back pain at some point in their lives. It can result from an injury, strained muscles, arthritis, structural problems or disk issues. Whatever the cause, lower back pain and stiffness can make it difficult to walk, sleep, work or do everyday activities.
Start with a Diagnosis
Mild back pain and stiffness will usually get better with rest, pain relievers and some gentle stretching. In some cases, physical therapy will be recommended, which can be very beneficial both in the short- and long-term (prevention). In more severe cases, you may need cortisone injections, manual manipulation and even surgical repair.
It's important to start with a diagnosis before trying at-home remedies, which could make the problem worse. To determine the cause of your back pain, your healthcare provider may order an x-ray of the spine, an MRI, CT scan or EMG (electromyography) to check for nerve damage. He or she may also order other tests to make sure your back pain is not being caused by an underlying issue, such as kidney stones.
Once you receive a diagnosis from your healthcare provider, as well as prescribed treatment, you can begin to safely reduce pain and stiffness.
Who is Prone to Lower Back Pain?
Some people are more likely to develop lower back pain than others. Risk factors include:
- Age: People over 40 tend to have more back pain because disks (the soft, rubbery tissue that cushions the bones in the spine) begin to wear with age. As the disks weaken and wear down, pain and stiffness can occur.
- Weight: People who are overweight/obese are more likely to experience back pain. Excess weight puts pressure on joints and disks.
- Sedentary lifestyle: A lack of exercise can lead to weakness and tight muscles, which in turn can cause back pain. If your job involves sitting for long periods every day, you may be more prone to back issues, especially if you have bad posture.
- Strenuous jobs: If your job involves heavy lifting or constant bending, you may be more prone to back injury.
- Disease and structural problems: People who have a family history of osteoarthritis and other disease have a higher risk of back pain. In addition, conditions such as scoliosis that change spinal alignments can cause back pain.
How Can I Prevent Lower Back Pain?
While you can't prevent pain that results from disease or structural problems, you can avoid weakness, tight muscles and injuries that cause lower back pain and stiffness. By strengthening the muscles surrounding the spine, as well as abdominal muscles (your core), you can support the spine and prevent common back issues.
It's also important to maintain a healthy weight and avoid putting undue pressure on vertebrae and disks. And, to avoid strain and injuries, be sure to lift properly - using your legs (not your back).
Easy Stretches to Prevent and Relieve Lower Back Stiffness
In addition to exercises that strengthen your core (abdominal muscles), which support your spine, daily stretching can prevent and relieve stiffness and pain. Physical therapists recommend three beneficial stretches, including the hamstring stretch, a knee to chest sequence, and spinal twist. The following video demonstrates each of these simple stretches done on a PhysioBoard (see below):
Use the PhysioBoard to Help!
Most back stretches involve lying on the floor, but many people are unable to get down and up from the floor to exercise or stretch. This is especially true if you are already experiencing back pain or are recovering from surgery. Thankfully, there is no need to get down and up from the floor. You'll notice that the stretches being performed in the video are being done on a mattress with the use of a PhysioBoard.
The PhysioBoard transforms your bed into a supportive, effective exercise surface. It's made of a unique material that is firm and sturdy, yet lightweight (only 11 lbs.), which makes it easy to use. Simply place it on your bed when you're ready to exercise or stretch and then remove the PhysioBoard when you're done. Unlike bulky exercise tables, PhysioBoard can easily be stored behind a door or in a closet.
Mattresses do not provide a proper surface to maintain correct form and posture. You may actually do more harm than good by stretching and exercising on a mattress! PhysioBoard is the solution!
People who have used the PhysioBoard love it.