3 Quick Tips for Sudden Onset Lower Back Pain
1. Stay calm and confident
Twinges in the lower back are extremely common and can be thought of as like the 'common cold' of the spine.
A bad cold can certainly knock you around and make you feel pretty crappy. With a cold, you know you're going to get better so you just accept it is part of life and don't stress too much over it.
On the other hand, a lower back flare up can sometimes leave you feeling rather vulnerable and fearful of damaging your spine.
Some typical thought patterns may be along the lines of:
- 'Am I ever going to get better?'
- 'Did I bulge a disc?'
- 'Do they even heal?'
- 'I may do more damage if I keep moving'
Negative thought patterns can trigger off a cascade events that can put your body into a 'fight or flight' state where some muscles get tight (superficial power muscles) and others (deep stabilisers) tend to become inhibited.
We know from pain research that the intensity of pain you experience correlates with the THREAT of tissue damage, not ACTUAL tissue damage.
Any way you can reduce the perception of threat can go a long way towards getting you on the right track with greatly reduced pain.
Spending a few minutes on these re-activation exercises will help no doubt help engage the core muscles.
But really it's more about pushing through the mental barriers and regaining confidence in your body's ability to heal.
"Your Body is an Incredible Self-Healing Machine" (Kelly Starrett).
It is amazingly robust and resilient.
We just need to set up the right environment for quality healing to take place.
2. Keep moving and stay at work if possible
If your back pain is more severe, you may need 1-2 days of rest and time off work, but then you gotta get moving.
Staying active (and even trying to get your heart rate up a little) will increase blood flow through the body and promote the healing response.
Being at work can be a good distraction from the pain and means you're not sitting around at home feeling sorry for yourself.
Take frequent short walks when you're at work.
3. Change your position frequently
Don't be sitting or standing in any one position too long.
If you have to sit at work, once again vary the position as much as possible.
Slumping is fine occasionally.
Don't get into the trap of holding yourself bolt upright in the 'perfect' posture.
Learn to chill a bit.
"Variability of posture trumps a perfect posture".