Avoiding activity because of back pain can actually make it worse. In fact, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke says exercise may be the most effective way to speed recovery from low back pain. When you don't use those muscles, you can lose flexibility, strength and endurance, causing more — or worse — lower back discomfort.
If you have acute pain, you may require medical attention. However, most back pain can be relieved by gentle strengthening and stretching exercises.
Strains and sprains resulting from injuries or overuse are common causes for lower back discomfort, which affects most of us at some point or another in our lives.
How to Prevent Lower Back Pain
1 Stand when you can: Sitting for long periods invites tight hamstrings, weakened gluteals and tight hip flexors. If you have to sit for a long time, change positions frequently, get up and move around for several minutes every hour or do a few squats, as they strengthen most all your lower body muscles. When you do sit, the best chair for preventing back discomfort is a straight-back chair.
2 Get moving: Keeping backs flexible by walking or with moderate activity such as swimming, low impact aerobics or bicycling can be the best medicine. Regular physical activity can help to reduce inflammation and muscle tension.
3 Stay conditioned: Strengthen and stretch lower back muscles, along with muscles that support the back, such as abdominals, hips, gluteals and hamstrings (back of thighs), at least twice a week. If these muscles are weak, any sudden surprise movement could result in an injury.
4 Think before you lift: Avoid picking things up by bending over from the waist with straight legs. Place feet shoulder-width apart, contract abdominals to support your back and bend your knees into a squat position. Hold the object close to your body when you stand up.