By Dr. Gholam Sarwar, Physiotherapy
Most of us suffer from lower back pain at some point in our lives; be it from a sedentary lifestyle, spending hours at the office desk or from strenuous physical exercises. In most cases, a little bit of rest does the trick. However, if the lower back pain persists for 3-6 weeks, physiotherapy is recommended.
How does physiotherapy help?
The main purpose behind physiotherapy is reducing lower back pain and increasing muscle and bone function, so that such instances are avoided in the future. Physiotherapy is the first line of defence against lower back pain. More drastic measures such as surgery are undertaken once physiotherapy fails to do is job.
Physiotherapy is often recommended when the back pain is caused due to lifestyle factors, a minor injury like a fall or other moderate factors. For more severe back injuries, doctors recommend surgery straight away when there is no scope of performing physiotherapy.
A physical therapy program for back pain usually has two components:
- Passive physical therapy to help reduce the patient’s pain to a more manageable level
- Active exercises
Passive Physical Therapy – Modalities
The physical therapist may focus on decreasing pain with passive physical therapy (modalities). These therapies are considered passive because they are done to the patient. Examples include:
- Heat/ice packs
- TENS units
Active Physical Therapy – Back Pain Exercises
In addition to passive therapies, active physical therapy (exercise) is also necessary to rehabilitate the spine. Here are some of the common exercises for back pain:
- Back Stretch: Put your hands underneath your head while lying back. Bend your knees but put your feet on the ground. Roll your legs to one side and hold them there for 10 seconds. Repeat three times for each side.
- Deep Lunge: For this, you need to kneel on one knee with the other foot pointed towards the front. Lift the back knee up and hold it there for five seconds and then bring it down. Repeat this exercise three times for each side.
- One Leg Stand: This is the simplest of exercises. Hold on to a wall for support while standing and face towards it. Then slowly hold one leg and bend it behind you. Hold in the same position for five seconds before bringing it down. Repeat the process three times for each leg in five second gaps.