Anyone who has suffered from lower back pain has probably seen a health care professional for treatment. Unfortunately most of the time treatment is relegated to over the counter or prescription pain medication, anti-inflammatory pills or topical pain ointments and an informational pamphlet. While these are effective treatment forms, they are not long lasting and should not be considered a full treatment plan.
One of the most effective—and most overlooked—treatment plans for lower back pain relief is exercise. Stretches and regular exercise, when combined with other forms of pain relief therapy, are a legitimate part of a successful pain treatment regimen.
Next to trauma, muscle imbalance is the most common form of back pain. Muscle imbalances can be corrected under the supervision of a physical therapist through muscle balance therapy, which relies on targeted stretches and exercises. Just as there isn’t one specific cause for lower back pain, there is not one customized set of exercises to reliever lower back pain.
Muscle Imbalance: What & Why?
A muscle imbalance occurs when opposing muscles are not in balance in terms of strength. This can occur due to over or under use of a specific group of muscles. For example if you sit for long periods of time—in a car or behind a desk—then your muscles may grow weak and loose due a lack of activity. If however you are physically active and you regularly participate in sports or work out, these repetitive motions can cause one set of muscles to become very strong and very tense, and the opposing muscles to become weak and loose. The end result of this imbalance is lower back pain.
As time presses on, these imbalances in muscles start to pull on the spine until you are left with postural dysfunctions. Postural dysfunctions can be harmful to back health because they place additional strain and tension on the spine. When the spine is misaligned out of the natural ‘S’ curve, the joints and discs in the spine can become worn and lead to pain in the lower back.
If you are a physically active person and you are experiencing lower back pain, the first thing you must do is take a few days to rest. Even if being a little inactive is driving you crazy, it is an essential step in the recovery process. Resting will give your muscles a few days to rest and relax, thereby relieving the tension that contributes to back pain.
It is important to remember that when it comes to treating lower back pain, too much of one thing is not a good thing. Too much rest is as damaging to your recovery as too much activity, particularly in the first days after the onset of pain. Whether you are active or not, resting is essential during the first few days, but then movement and exercise become more important to healing.
As you gradually begin activity it is important that you identify your symptoms to help with getting an accurate diagnosis of your postural dysfunction. You should take note of when the pain worsens and when it subsides, as well as the type of pain you experience. Your postural dysfunction will determine where the pain is and help your physical therapist determine what type of exercises and stretches should be included in your treatment plan.
Muscle balance therapy will likely be a part of your treatment as it works to strengthen the muscles and return the alignment of the spine to normal.
Lower back pain exercises to relieve pain will be targeted based on the location of the pain. By taking advantage of the muscle balance therapy program, you will be able to conduct a personal assessment that will provide you with the tools necessary to determine postural dysfunctions.