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back pain

Top 5 Causes of Lower Back Pain

Your back is one of the most complex parts of your body. It is made up of bones, muscles, joints, organs and your spinal canal – which houses your spinal cord, one of the most important components of your nervous system.

As impressive as the back is, there is a lot that can go wrong with it. Some back injuries can be very serious, but the most common back issue is lower back pain.

Lower back pain is not usually medically serious, but that doesn’t make it any less disruptive to your life. Determining exactly what is causing your back discomfort is an important element of your treatment. Here are five common causes of lower back pain:

1. Poor lifting technique

Whether you are at the gym, moving furniture, or at work you need to be sure to exercise proper lifting technique at all times. Straining your back is completely avoidable when you use these proper lifting techniques:

  • Don’t lift with your back! – You’ve likely been warned not to lift with your back when you pick up something heavy like a couch or box of books. So how do you lift these heavy items? You should bend your knees, use the strength in your legs and keep your back flat when lifting heavy objects.
  • Don’t overdo it – You won’t impress anyone by lifting more than you should and you definitely won’t impress anyone by throwing your back out. Don’t lift more than you can handle.
  • Keep it close – Keep the object you are lifting close to your body
  • Don’t twist when you are lifting something. Avoid pivoting, turning or twisting your torso and keep the weight directly in front of you.

2. Weight
If you are overweight (or pregnant) you are more at risk of lower back pain due to the strain of carrying extra weight in front of your body.
To protect your back (and improve your overall health) consider a low impact exercise routine like yoga or Pilates. Both yoga and Pilates will:

  • Help you lose weight
  • Strengthen your core, back and stabilizer muscles
  • Increase your flexibility

3. Sports injuries
It is important to stay healthy and active to protect your back, but even athletes who are in excellent physical condition can experience lower back pain caused by the sports they enjoy. Golf is a particularly common cause of lower back pain among middle-aged people, while sports like baseball/softball, squash, soccer, basketball, hockey and football can also result in lower back pain.

The best way to protect yourself from lower back injuries during sports is to:

  • Warm up by stretching
  • Strengthen your core and back with yoga or Pilates
  • Increase your flexibility

If you are already suffering lower back pain from a sports injury then you should consider non-pharmaceutical, non-invasive techniques such as physiotherapy, sports massage and even acupuncture to get back on the field, court or course.

4. Sitting

While not as dramatic as a sports injury, sitting for prolonged periods can be just as damaging to your lower back. Sitting can compress your back, cut off blood supply and put pressure on muscles, discs and ligaments. To avoid or reduce back pain caused by extensive sitting:

  • Get up regularly and walk around
  • Practice yoga or Pilates
  • Invest in an ergonomic chair, medicine ball or consider a standing desk

5. Medical Conditions
It is important to always visit your doctor or medical professional when you are experiencing lower back pain to ensure that it is not the result of serious medical issues, such as:

  • Arthritis or joint pain
  • Spinal injury
  • Cancer
  • Sciatica
  • Slipped disc

​According to the Canadian Physiotherapy Association, “four out of five Canadians experience at least one episode of lower back pain (LBP) at some point in their life.” If you’re one of the many Canadians suffering from lower back pain the good news is that you don’t have to suffer. Book an assessment today with one of our physiotherapists and start your road to recovery.