Millions of Americans are in a constant search for relief from lower back pain. In fact, a sore back or lower back pain is one of the most frequent causes of trips to the doctor, second only to symptoms of the common cold.
What Causes Back Pain?
In many cases, back pain is caused by muscle strain from such activities as sitting in the wrong position or lifting heavy objects. Doctors, then, frequently will tell their patients to stay active and simply avoid the activities that caused the pain in the first place. They also often advise sufferers of back pain to perform a series of physical lower back exercises that focus primarily on strengthening the muscles of the back, stomach, and legs.
Exercises May Help
Most of these lower back exercises are simple to do and patients can perform them at home. Stretching exercises, such as toe touches, are recommended to keep muscles and their supporting tissue limber and less susceptible to injury. Others can include aerobic exercises for the heart and other muscles to speed up recovery and strength training.
Many strength building lower back exercises are done without extra equipment and combine stretching and strength building. These include lying on your back and lifting both legs simultaneously or reversing the order and doing straight-leg or bent-leg sit-ups. Deep knee bends also can be thrown into the mix of exercises that can be done without equipment. However, another form of exercise will involve the use of free weights to lift them above the waistline. These can include bicep curls and shoulder shrugs.
Weights are included in isolation exercises to strengthen the back muscles and reduce back pain. One such exercise will have you setting up a bar with liftable weights on either end on a stand or rack that nearly matches your height. Using both arms along either side of the bar, lift the weights using your legs and stand back from the rack, placing your feet about shoulder width apart. Then, keeping your head and back straight, you bend your torso parallel to the floor and then return to standing.
If weight lifting is not your cup of tea, or your injury may have other causes that are affected by the condition of your spinal column, you may want to consider trying inversion therapy using an inversion table. If you have never heard of inversion therapy, it is a method of using gravity to lengthen the spine while decreasing muscle activity. Studies have shown that this can cause temporary back pain relief, reduce the pain of compression of the spine, and relieve muscle spasms.
An inversion table is a piece of equipment that allows you to strap yourself in on a cushioned platform and then spin the table until your feet are above your head. Using this method has been shown to separate spinal vertebrae by as much as three millimeters as it takes the gravitational pressure off of the nerve roots. In fact, many chiropractors and physical therapists recommend inversion therapy to their patients needing back pain relief. When they use it regularly, patients with such conditions as spinal stenosis, disc herniation, and degeneration have found their symptoms are relieved.
While using the inversion table is safe for most, those who have high blood pressure, glaucoma, or heart disease may want to first consult their doctor. This is because when you are inverted for more than a few minutes, the pressure in the eyeballs increases dramatically as the heart beat slows and blood pressure rises.
Still, regular sessions of inversion therapy using a table has been recommended by doctors as a safe alternative to back surgery for sufferers of spinal disorders. Those with such conditions are advised to seek out every possible remedy short of surgery, since back surgery is expensive and can be problematic in and of itself.