At the end of a long day, do you find yourself massaging your low back and wishing you could just sit down? Have you ever laid on the floor trying to work out a kink in your back? Do you avoid activities that involve a lot of walking because you know you’ll wind up dealing with lower back pain the whole time?
Lower back pain can rob you of your life, making you reluctant to do anything that might make it worse. And there are dozens of different things that could be causing your pain. Read on to discover fifteen of the most common causes of low back pain and what you can do about it.
1. Lifting Injuries
One of the most common reasons people have low back pain is due to lifting injuries. Maybe you were trying to help a friend move a couch, maybe you tried a new exercise at the gym, or maybe you were grabbing a new box of paper for the office. It’s very easy to bend from the waist, lift with your lower back, and strain the muscles there.
If you tweaked your back lifting something, the most important thing to do first is to give it plenty of rest. Use ice or heat as needed (though only for twenty minutes at a time with each) and give your back time and support to heal. And in the future, be sure you bend at the knees and lift with your legs to avoid injury.
Take a moment right now to take stock of your current body position. Are you sitting up straight, your spine aligned over your hips, and your low back supported by a pillow or your chair? Or are you slouched down, your hips curled under and your shoulders slouched forward?
Most of us spend our days hunched over desks, and over time, this position takes its toll on our bodies. Your back can begin to ache as ligaments, vertebrae, and tendons are pulled out of line. Getting proper lumbar support can help get your back into a healthier position and reduce your pain.
3. Poor Sleep Posture
You may be surprised to learn that your posture matters when you’re sleeping, too. But poor sleep posture can wreak as much or more havoc on your body as a walking posture. At least when you’re awake, you can shift positions when you become uncomfortable; when you’re sleeping, you may maintain that strange position all night.
If you have bad pillows or a hard bed, it can pull your spine all out of alignment. Consider getting a memory foam pillow that cradles your head while providing plenty of neck support. You may also look into getting a knee pillow to help pull your hips and back into alignment, reducing your back strain.
4. Menstrual Pain
If you have a period, you may experience low back pain every month. During your period, your uterus is working harder than usual to expel the lining it created in case you got pregnant. This overwork can lead to an achy, cramping pain in your low back, especially around your spine.
If you’re experiencing period pain, try using a hot water bottle or electric heating pad to soothe those muscles. A warm bath or gentle massage can also help. And, of course, if your pain is severe or constant, talk to your doctor; you might have a more serious condition going on.
You may be surprised to learn that smoking can actually cause low back pain in some cases. After all, what do something that only affects your lungs and respiratory system have to do with your back? But smoking affects every system in your body, not just the ones the smoke directly touches.
Doctors believe smoking may damage the small blood vessels that feed into your spine, keeping everything nourished. It can also weaken your bones, increasing your risk for osteoporosis. Both of these things can cause your back to hurt, and it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor about how to quit smoking.
6. Bad Shoes
What shoes you wear can impact everything from your posture to what activities you participate in. And if your shoes aren’t giving you the right kind of support, they can start to make your backache. Your hips may get pulled out of line, putting more pressure on your low back and causing pain.
High heels are especially bad for your low back, so try to avoid those if possible. If you do have to wear heels, look for options with a wider, lower heel or a low wedge platform. If you aren’t wearing heels, make sure your shoes have plenty of arch support, and avoid backless shoes like flip flops that provide you with no heel stability.
7. Poor Exercise Habits
Most of us don’t work out as much as we want to, but did you know your poor exercise routine could be causing back pain? Your body relies on a number of different muscle groups, including your core and pelvic muscles, to hold your back in a proper posture. If these muscles are neglected, it can be harder for you to maintain a healthy position for your back.
If you find that you’re having low back pain, try to incorporate some core strength exercises into your routine. Yoga and Pilates can be helpful, as can water aerobics. In general, you want to start with gentler exercises that won’t place more strain on your back while those muscles get stronger.
8. Extra Weight
Another consequence of a bad exercise routine is that you may start to carry a few extra pounds. This extra weight can place a little more strain on your back, making it harder for you to keep proper posture. This can also become a problem for people who have larger breasts, as they can pull you into a hunched position.
If you think extra weight may be the culprit behind your back pain, prioritize your exercise routine more. Try to eat a healthy, balanced diet, including lots of fresh fruits and vegetables and some lean proteins. Avoid fad or crash diets, as they don’t create lasting results and can cause you to lose weight in an unhealthy way.
9. High Stress
You may notice that your back aches more during unhappy or stressful times in your life. Muscle tension is a common side effect of stress, and many of us carry that strain in our backs. Take a moment to pay attention to the muscles in your shoulders, back, and neck, and see if you can feel tension there.
If you’re dealing with a stressful situation in life, try to take more time for self-care. Set up a meditation practice for just five or ten minutes a day, and try to make exercise a priority. A massage can also be a great way to relieve stress and muscle tension at the same time.
10. Foot Problems
In some cases, back problems can literally start from the ground up. Many of us take our feet for granted, but they carry us through every situation in our lives. If you have an undiagnosed foot problem, the effects of it may begin to show up in your back.
Flat feet, high arches, or other foot problems can change the way you carry your weight and impact your gait. This, in turn, places strain on your back in different places. If you’re suffering from low back pain, you may want to talk to your doctor about whether your problem could be related to your feet.
11. Nerve Injuries
Our body has more than seven trillion nerves that run through it, providing us with the ability to sense the world around us. Most of these nerves connect through your spinal cord, a thick bundle of nerves that runs the length of your back, carrying messages from the rest of your body to your brain and back. If any of these nerves have been damaged or scarred, you could start experiencing low back pain.
If you’ve had an injury or operation around your back recently, some of your nerve endings could have developed scar tissue around them. When you move, this stiffer tissue could pull on those nerves, causing pain. If you believe this may be your problem, talk to your doctor about what treatment options are available to you.
Epidurals during childbirth can also cause some increased low back pain, especially if you had a C-section. An epidural temporarily cuts off all sensation below a certain point on your body. Then during labor, you may wind up in a position that strains your back and be unable to feel it.
When you have a C-section, you also have to go through a longer period of inactivity in order to allow your body to heal. This can weaken your abdominal muscles, which can lead to poor posture. If you recently had a baby and now you’re dealing with low back pain, talk to your doctor about ways to get your body back to its old healthy state.
13. Poorly Fitting Clothes
Most of us don’t think about the way our clothes impact and restrict our movement. But take a moment to imagine the way you walk, stand, sit, and shift while you’re wearing tight pants or a suit compared to when you’re lounging in pajamas. When we’re in tighter clothing, our movements are a little more restricted and unnatural, which can place more strain on our backs.
Take a look at your clothes and pay attention to whether they’re too tight. If you recently gained some weight, you may need to get a new size that fits you better. If your clothes are leaving impressions on your body at the end of the day, there’s a good chance you need to get a different size.
14. Height Issues
It may come as a surprise that taller people can be at more risk of back problems than shorter people. The taller you are, the more structure your body is having to support, and the more strain your back will be under. Think of it like trying to build a tall, thin Lego tower and how much less force it would take to knock that tower over than a shorter tower.
People with beasts tend to be especially at risk for height-related back pain since that extra weight can throw you off balance. If you tend to stand head and shoulders above the crowd, spend some more time focusing on strengthening your core and your back. This can help provide additional support so your spine isn’t carrying so much of your weight.
Your back pain may sometimes be thanks to an infection or other medical problem. For instance, bladder and kidney infections can cause low back pain, as can certain kinds of cancer. One of the common symptoms of appendicitis is also pain around the back or side.
If you start experiencing unexplained low back pain, it’s always a good idea to make an appointment with your doctor. Make sure you tell them about any other strange symptoms you’ve been experiencing, no matter how unrelated they seem. They may be able to look at your symptoms and diagnose an underlying problem causing your pain.
Discover How to Manage Lower Back Pain
Lower back pain is miserable and can keep you from living your fullest life. But knowing some of the reasons it happens can help you figure out the best way to fix it. And if you’re in doubt, make an appointment with your doctor; they can tell you for sure what’s wrong and give you advice on how to fix it.
If you’d like to find tools to make your life pain-free, check out the rest of our site at Everlasting Comfort. We have everything you need to live your most comfortable life, from pillows and cushions to oil diffusers and humidifiers. Shop our collection today and start kicking pain to the curb.