My 4-Year Journey to Relieve Lower Back Pain: Discover What Worked for Me
When I was 29, I found myself coaching a client at 6 am in the winter. She was working on back bends, so I dropped down to demonstrate the movement. Stiff and cold from the early morning, I immediately regretted the decision; a tweak of pain informed me that I’d done damage.
Up until that point, I had never experienced lower back issues, but what followed was four frustrating years of trying to relieve lower back pain that permeated my every thought and action.
The anxiety would set in anytime I’d try a new movement or when I knew I’d be sitting a lot:
- “Will I be in pain all week because of X”
- “Will I have to stop working and find a new job?”
- “What will I be like in my 40s and beyond if I’m this broken at 30?”
I spent the next 4 years working with coaches, spending thousands of hours on research, and trying to get to the bottom of my own back pain, all in an effort to relieve lower back pain for myself and use this knowledge to help my clients.
I think the most frustrating aspect of dealing with back pain is the frustration itself, the missed opportunities to play with your kids, to enjoy a walk, or to simply live freely. Life is already filled with challenges, and this constant companion of discomfort is not making it any easier to relieve lower back pain.
The fundamental reason why so many people experience chronic back pain is due to your spine’s lack of variety and movement. But even the active among us often sit in an office chair for 8 hours a day. In research performed by Dr. Joan Vernikos for NASA,
it was observed that stagnation, staying in the same position for long periods of time, came with a myriad of health consequences. It can lead to blood pressure fluctuations, decreased heart function, and skeletal dysfunction, among other implications.
– Dr. Kelly Starrett
Let’s dive into what’s worked for me and my clients to relieve lower back pain.
Step 1: Prioritise Movement Throughout Your Day
The key is to start small. I mean really small. Stand up every hour, stretch a little, take a short walk, or do a couple of back exercises. Consistency is your best friend here. It’s not about making huge changes overnight but about incorporating small bits of movement into your everyday life.
A simple rule is for every 60 minutes you sit, walk for 2.
Step 2: Change Posture throughout the day
This transformed my back pain. If I sit for 8 hours today, I will have an achy back.
Now I change my posture throughout the day.
I have a standing desk, which I can adjust to sit and then I also sit on the floor and work on my coffee table.
Step 3: Understand Rate of Perceived Symptom (RPS)
This idea, proposed by Joe Gambino on my podcast, is crucial for rehabbing an injury. If pain from a flare-up is 4/10 or below and improves within 48 hours, you are on track with your recovery. If it’s higher or takes longer than 48 hours, the program might be too challenging, or a specific movement is aggravating the issue.
Step 4: Customized Exercise Routine to Relieve Lower Back Pain
View pain and injury as signs of weakness in your body. Avoiding movements may seem logical, but it makes the body weaker and more injury-prone.
A customized exercise routine designed to relieve lower back pain meets you where you are at and helps you build strength and mobility safely.
Step 5: Seek Professional Guidance
Navigating through this alone is hard. Having an expert to guide you through flare-ups, pain, and the responses to exercise can be invaluable.
Remember, your current pain and injury don’t have to be forever, especially if you take action to change your patterns and behaviors. Movement, when done correctly based on your physical condition and limitations, is always a good idea when it comes to relieving lower back pain.