Binge watching movies from a fixed position on your bed all day, every day seems like it may very well be the only option to help you power through the coronavirus pandemic while staying at home… but did you know that doing this for too long can potentially lead to body stiffness and increased lower back pain?
According to medical experts about 80% of adults experience lower back pain at some point during their lifetimes due to common causes including:
- Lower back strain
- Degenerative disc disease
- Improper spine alignment and stability
- Herniated disc
- Radiculopathy or sciatica (pain from the back radiating down the leg)
- Spinal stenosis
- Other causes related to the musculoskeletal system (the body’s form, support, stability and movement mechanisms)
And now more than ever with this lockdown, people need to get creative to try to prevent and/or alleviate back pain at home.
At-home lower back pain therapies
- Limit your bed rest. If you have lower back pain, your first instinct may be to lay in bed or sit for long periods of time. According to medical experts this can do more harm than good. This can lead to serious stiffness and a long-term increase in pain. In fact, prolonged bed rest can amount to loss of about 1% of muscle strength each day. The sooner you start moving or even engaging in light to moderate exercise, the faster you may improve overall.
- Get active!Maintenance of physical activity is essential to treating and/or preventing back pain. At the most basic level, that means standing, walking and limiting sitting/lying down throughout the day. But if you want to take it to the next level and push your body, try incorporating aerobic activity like jump roping, jogging, dancing (Zumba) or even kickboxing. Medical experts also recommend incorporating strength training workouts to target the core and hips, such as fire hydrants, superman’s and planks. Many exercises can be found on free home exercise apps, such as 7 Minute Workout or Nike Training Club, along with the proper techniques.
- Apply ice or heat therapy. According to medical experts, heat therapy tends to help relax muscle tissue and relieve back pain. That being said, though, people need to take a personalized approach to heat or ice with respect to pain complaints.
- Stretch. This one is a bit tricky as stretching is extremely specific to each person, however if you have been given specific stretches to do daily by your physical therapist or trainer, make sure that you are taking the time to do this.
- Be mindful of what you’re eating. Excess weight around the mid-section can be especially strenuous for your lower back. Some foods to avoid overly eating would include:
- Sugary drinks
- Processed snacks (potato chips) and baked goods
- High-fat dairy products (ice cream)
- Constant take-out from restaurants
- Fried food
- While some foods to try to incorporate more often into your meals would include:
- Beans and legumes
- Lean poultry and fish
- Healthy fats (coconut oil)
To avoid overeating or over-snacking, try to plan ahead with healthy meals, set a schedule of when you are going to eat each day and limit giving in to cravings (though it’s okay to give in every now and then!)
- Improve your posture. This is a simple but very important way to keep the back and spine healthy. Some simple techniques include:
- Being mindful of sitting up straight when standing or sitting (and avoiding that slouch!)
- Keeping a pillow or rolled-up towel placed behind the lower back while sitting
- Keeping feet elevated on a low stool or a stack of books to relieve pressure from the back during prolonged periods of sitting
- Switching sitting positions often and periodically
- Buy one of our posture correctors!
When should I seek help for my lower back pain during the lockdown?
If your lower back pain becomes so ‘all-consuming’ that you cannot function, medical experts have advised calling your doctor. Additionally, seeking immediate medical attention if you experience any of the following symptoms along with your back pain:
- Weakness in your legs
- Incontinence (inability to control urination)
- Pain waking you from your sleep
- Numbness below the waistline