By Dr. Sharon Sunayana, Physiotherapy
Lower back pain is one of the most prevalent forms of pain that brings people to the doctors. Lower back pain is mostly caused by muscle strain, sprain in the ligament, slipped disc, bad posture or a number of musculoskeletal problems. Symptoms range from a dull ache localised to the lumbar area, a sharp pain that travels down one leg, pain that gets worse with movement and muscle spasms. Physiotherapy can be a safe and effective way of treating lower back pain without resorting to surgery. Most physiotherapy programmes will incorporate a number of exercises to relieve lower back pain and prevent it from recurring. These include:
Proper stretching of the muscles of the lower back will help provide relief to muscles that have been strained or sprained due to bad posture, injury or heavy lifting. This prevents muscle atrophy, which is a shrinking of muscles that may develop if the muscles are not used for a long time. Stretching also helps retain a normal range of motion in the lower back so that you don’t lose functionality and movement. It is best to follow an individualised stretching routine that has been developed by your physiotherapist and will target your specific concerns. Generally, for lower back pain, stretching the lower back muscles, abdomen, buttocks, pelvis and hips, is the most effective for pain relief.
Dynamic Stabilisation Exercises
Dynamic stabilisation exercises are intended to strengthen the muscles surrounding the spine so that your body is able to support and perform everyday movements with perfect posture. Depending upon your body’s condition, your therapist will suggest exercises ranging from free hand exercises like hamstring stretch, arm or leg raises, pelvis tilt to exercises involving the use of exercise balls or balance machines.
Core Strengthening Exercises
Core strengthening exercises help to strengthen the muscles of the lower back and abdominal muscles so as to develop a ‘belt’ of muscle surrounding the spine. The stronger the muscles surrounding the spine are, the better the spine’s ability to support the body and lesser the strain on the vertebrae and discs of the spine. These exercises include abdominal strengthening exercises such as crunches, sit-ups, side plank as well as hyperextension exercises which can be performed on machines or hyperextension benches.
The specific routine for physiotherapy will be designed by your physiotherapist depending on the specific diagnosis of your lower back pain and it is recommended that you practice the exercises 3 to 4 times a week for successful pain relief and restoring normal movement.