What to Do If You Strain Your Lower Back
When you hurt your back, two questions will likely cross your mind: “Does this mean I’m getting old?” and “What can I do to fix it?”
Back injuries, pulls and strains can happen to anyone, but they might be more common with age and with increased activity. Luckily, there are preventative measures you can easily incorporate into your everyday routine, as well as some strategies to help your body heal if you do find yourself injured.
Acute lower back pain is most likely linked to a muscle or ligament strain. Either of these tissues can become stretched or torn from activity, leading to spasms and pain in the lower back. If you notice chronic back pain that doesn’t get better over time or acute pain that inhibits everyday activities, consider visiting a doctor.
It’s possible to manage these types of aches at home, however. Most of these injuries take a few days or weeks to heal, but sometimes the process can last longer. For the easiest recovery, take care of your body the moment you start to feel pain. If the pain is severe, rest for a day or two — but usually no longer than that, or you run the risk of weakening your muscles and increasing the chance of further injury once you get moving again.
Here Are Some Additional Tips to Address Lower Back Pain:
- Applying a cold pack following an injury can help reduce swelling. Follow with heat therapy to stimulate blood flow so your body can repair the tissue.
- Anti-inflammatory medication can target the source of inflammation and reduce it.
- Other pain medications or muscle relaxers, which require a prescription, are also an option.
- Visiting a chiropractor or massage therapist can assist with loosening tight muscles and the promotion of the body’s natural healing process.
- Lower back exercises can encourage the body to heal and keep your muscles used to movement. Be sure to know your limits and to stop if anything hurts severely. You should also modify any regular exercise you do on a day-to-day basis to make sure you don’t quickly re-injure the area.
- Yoga offers some especially helpful benefits for your lower back, when practiced regularly. There are also specific poses that can help alleviate pain and increase blood flow to your back.
- Keep moving! As long as your doctor is okay with it — and you aren’t overdoing it — keep your body moving. Weakened core and back muscles mean a higher probability of future injuries. Once you feel you are back to 100 percent, find a way to keep these muscles active and strong.