First aid for your lower back pain while living with it
Disclaimer: I am not a professional trained doctor or therapist, all honest opinions are mine from my past 5 years experience. This post does not contain any affiliation link. Please consult your doctor first when you notice you have discomfort in any area.
I still have a vivid memory of the first day my back hurt. How come I couldn’t turn around my back? my legs were numb, I had to hold my breath and used all the strength on my arms to only lift myself just a bit. I was shocked, I had no idea what was wrong with me, a straight A+ yoga student, never had any problem physically (never had any muscle strain or any injury before) had to experience this. I was hoping it was just a nightmare that I could end the other day when I woke up.
But, sadly it didn’t turn out to be this way, I tried my best to rest, to recover, and did some yoga that was supposed to loosen the tension of my back, gluteus…etc. stayed in bed the whole week, it seems my back has less pain after 2 weeks, then I thought, I was able to work out in the gym again, after an hour of weight training, the second day in the morning, the whole pain was back when I open my eyes, I sweated and cried. I’ve been haunted… I was in a nightmare that I didn’t know how to get out of!
Is this scene familiar to you?
I had this image repeated many times in the past five years… It seemed like it was gonna stay with me forever.
However, those tears of pain can be less. Let’s start with key First Aid:
- DON’T MOVE! STOP whatever you are doing now if you are feeling severe pain!
In the Acute Stage, there is nothing you can do rather than stay in bed, just rest, and may use a heat mat on your back to help relax the muscle. Do not do anything to irritate the nerves that pinch on your back more. it is only getting worse. Do not force yourself to yoga, even though the stretch poses claim will have the benefit to your back. it is not always helping when in terms of a nerve pinch case. I learned this the hard way… I was way too eager to get back to normal, and those deep hip stretch yoga forced the nerves terribly.
Also, do not sit too long, constantly change your position to verify your pain root cause area.
2. Consulting your doctor (physical therapist/rehabilitationist) :
Usually, the muscle strain should be recovered from 3 days to a week. If the lower back pain doesn’t subside after a week, The injured area is numb even affecting your legs, you can still feel the pain hidden in your deep hip, spine area, you are entering the Sub-Acute Stage. the pain is still bothering you, contact the doctor ASAP, fully describe how you feel and what is the position hurts you. If you can get an X-ray, do it! I was so wrong in contacting chiropractic first, and the examination did not point out anything wrong with my spine, but I may just have a muscle strain.
I didn’t blame it for knowing very little of the situation, because, by only physical contact on the back, it is hard to detect a slight bit curve or tilt of your spine or pelvic.
3. Relax and be patient:
If the pain is still not away after weeks or months, you are entering the late stage. During this period, your pain level should be down to 10%. I describe this to friends and family in this way: It feels like you are wearing your dental braces, you are getting used to it, you live with it, you know how to make yourself feel better or worse by doing certain postures. Once you do squat, body pump, you can feel the pain in the following days, just like you got a follow-up checking and adjusting dental braces at the beginning. it pains you, but you are not too bothered by it. You feel way better and can sit longer than before.
There is no guarantee your back will be back at any time but follow any treatment that your doctor suggests doing. Such as acupuncture, heat therapy, pull-ups in the gym daily for 5-10 mins, spine decompresses machine…etc.
Patience is the key! Be patient: healing first. workout is not the priority at early stages.
Beyond first aid, here’s what I have learned to make me feel better while living with the lower back pain:
1. Always do Lunge instead of Squat!
This is probably the best tip my physician had told me. As long as you can feel the lower back pain, do not do anything that requires squatting. If you must have done it, such as clean your cat’s litter box, play with your kids or pets, grab the thing from the floor, or training your legs, all you can do is the lunge.
Always one leg at the front, have the awareness that by placing your one leg in front to create a second point to distribute the weight of your upper body, compared to only having your back as the focal point for your body weight, it is a game-changer!
image resource freepik.com
2. Training deep breaths and being “HARD-CORE”
It turns out our core muscles have a way bigger influence on our spine than we know. since the front muscle (our cores) lifts our middle and upper body weight enhances what the good postures should be. By doing so, our spine also gets less pressure to hold up the whole body weight. Imagine your belly as a balloon, inhale deeply to fill out the balloon, feeling the movement by putting your hand on top of it. training deep breaths to keep the core muscle strong.
3. Wearing flats, not heels
I LOVE wearing heels, I know… I get it. It instantly gives a sophisticated look to any outfit. elongate my legs, making my petite frame better. However, wearing heels too often will weaken the core muscle, putting huge stress on your knees, and most of it, the Anterior pelvic tilt, which has a huge connection to lower back pain. Not until today did I realize it, also inspired my healing process to take a different direction.
While I finally decompress my spine, I wear low heel boots trying to see how I feel. Immediately I can tell that my core muscle has less strength due to the position that forces your weight on your back, legs and toes.
4. A pillow talk
Well, not in the gossiping or flirting way. I am seriously talking about the pillow, which is a quite helpful tool when it comes down to sitting or lying down. Since the pressure on the sciatic nerve causes radiating pain, we would do our best to keep the body straight so the Herniated disc is not going to irritate the nerves. I found that putting a pillow underneath your knee can relieve the pressure on the spine while sleeping. Doctors also suggest that if you are a side sleeper, you can put a pillow in between your knee or underneath the knee. Both could keep your body aligned without curling up the spine.
5. Avoid any training equipment that puts you in the sitting position and work on the leg parts.
such as Seated leg curl, seated leg extension, leg press machine(basically you are squatting!)!
Only train yourself in a position that is either fully flat on your back, such as yoga or pilates, or lie on the bench, or in a plank position.
In my experience, the leg machines that would not cause me pains are inner thighs or outer thighs abductor machines.
However, it may be different from person to person, I highly recommend you to take notes on your workout routine.
6. Stretch! Stretch! Stretch!
Keep your muscles flexible and relieve the tension constantly! Take 5 mins break every 30 mins, walk a little bit, stretch, and ask yourself, how do you feel now?
7. Deduct sitting time, especially on soft seats, sofa, bed, and hollow seat.
It is nice to sit on a soft surface, it feels cozy and comfortable, but it puts lots of pressure on our back because they are working hard to keep us straight, sometimes it will cause an unusual curl up on the lower back for a long time. same as the hollow seat- toilet.
8. Keep good position always!
Constantly check out your position, do not tilt to one side, or curl your back
Alright! Should we take 5 to do some stretches now? 🙂
All will be well!