While there are systemic causes of lower back pain that may require medical care from a physician, the pain and discomfort you are feeling is likely the result of a musculoskeletal problem. Consequently, your first course of action should be to see a chiropractor near you for an immediate assessment.
But we digress.
Instead, the intent of this article is to answer your query regarding the worst activities for lower back pain. Are there things that you’re doing on a daily basis that could be aggravating the underlying injury and contributing to pain and discomfort? Yes, there are, and there are steps you can take to make a positive change and complement chiropractic care. Let’s review!
4 Daily Tasks That May Be Causing and/or Aggravating Lower Back Pain and What You Can Do About It
I. Sitting (Office and Home)
Thought we’d lead with advice about avoiding strenuous exercise? Nope. Instead, we want to draw your attention to the most common of lower back pain-inducing daily activities – sitting. If your chosen profession and/or lifestyle places you in a sedentary position for hours on end, you’re primed for lower back pain and discomfort.
While you can make changes at-home to get off of the sofa and be more active, you may feel powerless when working in an office environment for 40 hours per week or more. Ergonomic office chairs can help, but they are far from ideal. Ask head office and/or HR for a standing desk that you can rotate in and out of your daily workload. It’s a small investment (for them) that will pay dividends in the form of fewer absentee days (for you) and increased productivity. A pain-free worker is a productive one. If you hit a brick wall with our request, you can bring in your own exercise ball which you can rotate with your chair throughout the day.
What about those of you who work from home? Or what about downtime hours in the evening in front of the TV? You can rotate “normal” seating at home during “screen time” with the following positions:
- Lay on your abdomen with your elbows under your shoulders with your neck outstretched and facing the screen.
- Sit on the floor in front of the couch or wall with your glutes (rear end) as close to the edge as comfortably possible. Ensure that your glutes and spine actually touch the front of the couch or wall. Sit upright, with your legs stretched out in front of you and facing the focal point (TV). Take the same position when working on your laptop, with it placed comfortably on your lap at a close enough distance from your elbows so that you don’t stretch to reach the keyboard.
- Lay on the floor on your side in a straight line. Place your hand under your ear while keeping your neck outstretched with your face facing the screen. Rest the knee that is on top over the bottom knee to assist in stabilizing your hips. This takes pressure off of our lower back.
While you can’t exactly practice any of the above when outside of the home or office, we do encourage you to be more mindful of how you sit elsewhere. Consider your posture when dining out, going to the movies, and more. Mindfulness of your seated posture will go a long way in keeping your lower back free from pain.
The way you sit and operate a vehicle while driving is a common culprit. If you find that lower back pain kicks in soon after you turn the key in the ignition, you can probably point the finger at poor seated posture. Moving forward, pay close attention to driving ergonomics and take note of the following:
- Sit with your knees level with your hips.
- Sit at a comfortable distance from the steering wheel. You should not have to stretch your arms to reach the steering wheel.
- Sit so that your feet are able to easily press the accelerator, brake, and clutch without having your back separate from the seat.
- Take breaks on drives that last longer than two hours. Park safely, exit the vehicle, stretch your legs, and take a brief stroll.
- If our vehicle’s driver side does not have a lumbar support system, install one. It will make a very noticeable difference.
There’s another way driving may be contributing to lower back pain – stress. Anxious drivers experience anxiety. Anxiety will increase muscle tension, which in turn aggravates lower back pain. While delving into behavioural health concerns connected to driving may span beyond the scope of this article, chiropractic care and psychology go hand-in-hand more than most people realize. Thus, it’s only reasonable for our clinic to provide some insight into how to mitigate driving anxiety and subsequent lower back pain. Please follow these steps:
- Be aware of your feelings while driving, and remind yourself to stay calm when behind the wheel.
- Avoid high-traffic routes when possible, even if it adds more time to your commute. Wouldn’t you rather leave a little early and remain pain-free?
- Drive defensively, not competitively. Allow others to merge, pass, and leave plenty of room between yourself and the vehicle in front of you
- Consider another form of transportation.
III. Household Chores
People often consider the way they position their bodies when at the gym (as they should), but few do the same when doing simple duties at home. For this reason, you can chalk common household chores up as a primary cause of lower back pain.
The endless gauntlet of weeding the lawn, scrubbing the bathtub, picking up toys (etc.) can place your lower back in peril. While we’d be happy to give you a get-out-of-chores pass, the other occupants in your household probably won’t let that fly. Instead, remember to do the following when doing chores that require you to reach down low:
- Spread your feet apart and stand as close as possible to the object/item you are cleaning, pulling, or lifting. Once established, bend at the knees, not the waist.
- Tighten your stomach muscles as you lift something up and lower it down. Do the same when squatting to scrub a tub or wipe the floors.
- Hold objects as close to your body as you can when lifting or lowering. If it’s too heavy to do so comfortably, get someone to help you.
- Stay upright when standing up with an object. Never bend forward with heavy items in hand.
- Don’t twist your back when bending to reach, lift, pull, or carry an object.
Once again (as with sitting and driving above) we encourage you to be mindful when doing any chores around your home interior and exterior.
This is not in reference to how you sit (above) or hold your cutlery when eating. Instead, we’re referencing what you eat.
That’s correct; what you put into your body on a daily basis can make eating one of the worst activities for lower back pain. Certain foods and beverages contribute to lower back pain due to their inflammatory properties. These include the following:
- Foods and beverages that are high in sugar
- Egg yolk
- Trans fats
- Refined carbohydrates and grains
- Red meat
- Most processed foods
You needn’t cut these items out of your diet by any means (unless suggested by your family doctor for other reasons). However, you may consider moderation. Try excluding certain combinations for a couple of weeks to see if it makes a positive difference in your lower back pain. If so, adjust your long-term diet accordingly.
Adjusting how you sit, drive, do chores, and eat can all help mitigate lower back pain and discomfort. That being said, there is no substitution for professional chiropractic care. Lower back pain can be alleviated by having a chiropractor work your facet joints and prescribe supplementary treatments including shockwave therapy to release trigger points and reduce chronic inflammation.
If located in the Greater Edmonton area, contact us today to schedule an assessment and begin your journey to enjoying a pain-free existence.