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10 Things You Can Do to Manage Low Back Pain

Information provided on the blog is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose or offer treatment plans.

  1. Start a regular exercise routine
    • Aim for 30 minutes of aerobic activity 4-5 days/week
    • Biking, walking and swimming are all great examples of exercise
  2. Work your core!
    • The muscles that make up the core, particularly the transverse abdominis (also known as the corset muscle) assist in supporting and protecting the low back
  3. Straighten up
    • Society has promoted a forward flexed posture—sitting at a computer, looking down at our phones, watching TV—this puts pressure on the posterior musculature and can contribute to low back pain
    • Try to pull your shoulders back and tuck your tailbone under, don’t stand with your knees locked or with an exaggerated curve throughout your low back
    • When sitting, try using a lumbar roll (a small pillow or rolled towel) placed at the small of your back for increased support
  4. Ergonomics
    • Make sure your desk area is set-up for your body.

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  1. Get moving!
    • Prolonged positions such as sitting or standing can aggravate the low back
    • Try to stand up or take a short walk every 30-45 minutes to promote blood flow and mobility to the area.
  2. Ice versus Heat
    • Ice is great for more acute injury (within 48 hours) to decrease pain and inflammation
    • For more chronic pain, heat is better because it promotes blood flow and circulation to the area, which is important for the healing process.
  3. Re-think your footwear
    • Wear comfortable shoes that are supportive; avoid wearing high heels as these place additional stress on the back.
  4. Drink plenty of water
    • According to a study performed by the Mayo Clinic, dehydration may aggravate chronic conditions such as headaches or low back pain.
  5. Watch your mechanics
    • When lifting objects from the floor, especially when they are heavy, lift with your legs and not your back—stand over the object, squat down (don’t let your knees go past your toes), and as you straighten up keep your back flat, core tight, and push from your heels.
  6. Stop smoking
    • Smoking causes decreased oxygenation to tissues and slows down the healing process, leading to more chronic conditions. It can effectively increase your risk of back pain.

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Jon Gallas, DPT

Jon Gallas is a doctor of physical therapy for OrthoIllinois. He's also an avid runner and biker, who likes to work with endurance athletes to stay healthy and perform better.


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