Back pain is one of the most common physical problems facing adults. Today, we'll look at lower back pain, and you'll learn why it can have serious ramifications for your bone health.
Then we review studies that show how to decrease back pain or prevent it from starting in the first place– without resorting to toxic pain killers. Unsurprisingly, the healthy behaviors that can alleviate back pain fit perfectly into a bone-building lifestyle. And last but not least, we also share an exercise to prevent lower back pain.
All About Lower Back Pain
The lower back is the nexus of most back pain that people experience. This area, called the lumbar region, includes the five lowest vertebrae of the spine. Those vertebrae are protected by pads called intervertebral discs. They function somewhat like shock absorbers.
The vertebrae are held in place by ligaments and are attached to muscles via tendons. They protect the bundle of nerves in the spinal cord that allows the body to communicate with the brain.
With all of these interconnected components, it's no wonder that this part of the body is so prone to aches and pains. Here are common causes of lower back pain:
- Congenital skeletal irregularities like scoliosis
- Sprains (torn ligaments)
- Strains (torn tendons or muscles)
- Traumatic injury (can injure tendons, ligaments, muscle, and herniate or rupture spinal discs)
- Intervertebral disc degeneration
- Normal wear and tear of aging (called Spondylosis)
- Arthritis and other inflammatory conditions
- Sciatica (caused by pressure on the sciatic nerve)
- Spinal stenosis (a narrowing of the spinal column which puts pressure on nerves)
- Herniated and ruptured discs
- Osteoporosis (due to fractured vertebrae)
The lower back, or lumbar region, is the most common location of back pain. It contains many connected parts, including the vertebrae, intervertebral discs, nerves, ligaments, tendons, and muscles. There are many potential causes of lower back pain, listed above.
Lower Back Pain And Bone Health
As previously noted, poor bone health can lead to back pain in the event of a fractured vertebra. However, the reverse is also true. Back pain can lead to a deterioration of bone health.
Chronic back pain can discourage people from getting the exercise they need to build stronger bones. Many fear that physical activity might make their back pain worse, and as a result, they live a sedentary lifestyle. Ironically, this choice is unlikely to alleviate back pain, but instead, it deteriorates the strength of both muscle and bone. This weakening effect can exacerbate back pain, and make further injury more likely– including fracture.1
Another way in which lower back pain can affect bone health is that people take painkillers, whether prescribed or over-the-counter. All too often, doctors will respond to a patient experiencing back pain by writing a prescription for a drug.Drugs are acidifying, so attempting to manage chronic pain with drugs makes it much harder to maintain a balanced pH.
Back pain can lead to bone loss because it discourages regular exercise. Additionally, doctors often prescribe painkillers to patients with back pain. All drugs are acidifying, which triggers bone loss.
Studies Confirm How To Safely Reduce Back Pain
A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that people who exercise have less severe back pain, and a lower risk of developing back pain, compared to people who don't exercise.2
The researchers analyzed data from multiple studies that included more than four thousand participants. Here's what they learned:
“Exercises designed to strengthen the spinal muscles in combination with stretching or aerobic exercise can reduce the subsequent occurrence of LBP (lower back pain) by approximately 30%, with decreases in the intensity of pain and associated disability as well.”2
Exercise not only prevented the occurrence of lower back pain in many cases, but it also reduced the severity of pain and helped people to maintain their physical function.
The above study looked at a wide range of participants. Another study that focused on people aged 60 or older found similar results. The researchers concluded that strengthening exercises in particular help alleviate pain and improve body functions.3
Studies have found that strengthening exercises that focus on spinal muscles combined with stretching or aerobic exercise prevent lower back pain, reduce the severity of back pain, and help people to maintain their physical function.
Exercises For Reducing And Preventing Back Pain
Exercise is safe for people with back pain. A study published in Spine Journal found that exercise does not increase the risk of future back injuries.4
However, if you suffer from back pain, don't do any exercise that causes acute pain and avoid exercises that apply pressure on your lower back, like toe touches, sit-ups, or leg lifts.
Exercise helps alleviate back pain by building core muscle strength to support and protect the spine, by increasing flexibility, and by helping maintain good posture. The types of exercises used in the studies cited above include:
- stretching exercises for the spinal muscles
- strengthening exercises for core and lower body muscles
- aerobic physical activities
- endurance and coordination exercises
- posture and balance exercises
Here's an exercise you can incorporate into your workout to build core strength and prevent or reduce back pain:
What This Means To You
Don't let back pain keep you from living your life and taking care of your bone health. Core strengthening exercises and flexibility-increasing stretches can help you beat back pain, or ensure you never suffer from it. And when you address the source of the problem, you don't need toxic pain-killers.
For more back-strengthening exercises like the one above, check out SaveTrainer. This video is taken directly from SaveTrainer, the Save Institute's online platform for on-demand exercise programs. No matter what your goals or needs are, SaveTrainer can help you get there.
The same exercises that help you prevent back pain also help you maintain your overall wellbeing and your bone health. That's the beauty of a holistic approach to wellness. Every healthy thing you do multiplies, making it easier to feel young, strong, and ready to take on the world.