How To Relieve Lower Back Pain (also known as Sciatica)?

Hi Friends of Oompf, its Alvan here. Today I will be talking about lower back pain and how to relieve it.




What is Sciatica?


Sciatica refers to pain that radiates along the path of the sciatic nerve, which starts from your lower back through your hips and buttocks and down each leg. Typically, sciatica affects only one side of your body. Pain associated with Sciatica can be severe however, most cases resolve with treatment which does not involve surgery within weeks. People who have severe sciatica that is associated with significant leg weakness or bowel or bladder changes may need surgery.


Symptoms


Pain that radiates from your lower back to your buttock and down the back of your leg is the hallmark of sciatica. You might feel the discomfort almost anywhere along the nerve pathway, but it's especially likely to follow a path from your low back to your buttock and the back of your thigh and calf. The pain can vary widely, from a mild ache to a sharp, burning sensation or excruciating pain. Sometimes it can feel like a jolt or electric shock. It can be worse when you cough or sneeze, and prolonged sitting can aggravate symptoms. Usually only one side of your body is affected. Some people also have numbness, tingling or muscle weakness in the affected leg or foot. You might have pain in one part of your leg and numbness in another part.


Causes


Sciatica most commonly occurs when a herniated disk, bone spur on the spine or narrowing of the spine (spinal stenosis) compresses part of the nerve.


Some of the factors that lead to it are:

1. Age

Age-related changes in the spine, such as herniated disks and bone spurs, are the most common causes of sciatica.

2. Obesity

Excess body weight can contribute by increasing the stress on your spine.

3. Prolonged sitting

People who sit for prolonged periods or have a sedentary lifestyle are more likely to develop sciatica than active people are.


Prevention

There are several ways to prevent it such as posture awareness, bodily movement proficiency and regular exercise. They are all interlinked with each other. I will explain why:


Proper posture

Sitting all day will make the front of your body tighten up—especially your hip flexors, rectus femoris (thighs), pectoral (chest) muscles, shoulders, and the front of your neck. When these muscles tighten up, it creates musculoskeletal imbalances. For example, tight hip flexors can cause an anterior tilt, which shuts down your abdominals and your glutes. So if you run after prolonged sitting, then those big stabilizing muscles simply won’t work. All these imbalances will eventually lead to lower back pain and more. By improving your posture, you will lessen the extent of these muscular imbalances through less tightening of some of the muscles mentioned above but it is not enough. But if those muscles are tight, you can perform some stretching exercises which will be explained later.


Movement proficiency

Some of the movements in our daily lives, if bad, will increase the risk of getting lower back pain. For example, when you pick up something heavy from the ground, if you do not know how to perform the movement right of picking up the heavy item, you will adopt bad posture to execute it and thus, may injure your lower back in the process. The right way of lifting something heavy is to let your lower extremities do the work. Move straight up and down. Keep your back straight and bend only at the knees. Hold the load close to your body. Avoid lifting and twisting simultaneously. In fact, Deadlift is the movement to learn so that this skill of learning how to perform and execute a perfect deadlift can be carried over to lifting something heavy from the ground due to its similarity! Therefore, learning the right movement pattern will decrease the risk of getting sciatica which leads to the most important key measure: Exercise.


Regular Exercise

Needless to say, regular exercise is the key factor to prevention. By doing certain exercises in your regular daily routine can also make a huge difference Some of these muscles you can focus on strengthening is the posterior (back) part of your body—like your back, glutes, and hamstrings. While stretching the anterior (front) muscles such as your hip flexors, pelvis, and chest relieves the tightness that also plays a part in muscular imbalances as explained earlier. This helps counteract the tightness that ensues when you're in a seated position, plus strengthens the muscles that we need for good posture (to be strong enough to simply sit upright and stand up straight).


As you realise by now, exercising seems to be the key prevention measure because it can help to improve your posture through resolving muscular imbalances and in the midst of exercising, you will learn how to move efficiently and effectively so that you lessen the risk of injury to your lower back and other areas of your body.


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