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Why Your Lower Back Hurts

More than 80% of the population will feel lower back pain at some point in their life (I sometimes wonder how that statistic isn't 100%).

So it's important to understand how and why it may come about to know how to best treat it.

The Physical

We may trigger lower back through:

- a muscle strain or pull

- a sudden increase in training intensity (load or volume)

- not moving enough or staying in the same posture for too long

This is the most obvious and easy to comprehend because we can see a clear link between physical action and our lower back pain.

The best advice in these instances is to moderate the intensity of your training, (but not to avoid it!) when it comes to your lower back. Not pushing through pain and giving yourself an adequate level of recovery is key here.

Movement is medicine if you're sedentary and not training. Even if we're not doing something strenuous, sitting around and barely moving our spines is a good way to create weakness and dysfunction in the area.

The Psychological

Back pain can also be triggered by:

- fear of movement

- negative thoughts/beliefs about pain

- anxiety and stress

- frustration and anger

- depression

Outside of anything physical happening to your lower back, all of these factors can create the feeling of lower back pain. It lends itself to the fact that not all hurt equals harm and our mind is a powerful factor in these instances.

Our mind can be a pro and a con in this case because our perceptions of pain can affect our outcomes. Just believing we'll get better tends to make it so.

The Lifestyle

Other general factors that can cause lower back pain include:

- poor sleep

- smoking

- excessive alcohol consumption

- poor diet

- lack of physical activity

General care taken with our bodies leads to better outcomes when we're talking about pain. Poor habits like not moving and eating low-nutritional foods contribute to lower back pain.

General Health Issues

Certain conditions have the added side-effect of causing lower back pain. These include:

- heart and lung disease

- osteoporosis

- obesity

- diabetes

- taking medications

- mental health issues

As you can see, pain is a multi-factorial phenomenon and it's incredibly difficult to nail down one specific cause of your lower back pain.

Did you train too hard, or did you get a lousy night's sleep, skip breakfast, and try to power through a workout, leading to a back strain?

Do you have a weak spine, or do you have poor habits when it comes to things like smoking and drinking alcohol?

Over 90% of low back pain isn't caused by an ominous pathology, but again it's hard to nail down a specific cause.

It's important to understand that there are factors outside of the typical physical issues (injury and lack of movement) that can contribute to our lower back pain.

And understanding is the first step towards treatment and a positive outcome free of back pain.

To your good health,

Coach Stephen


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References: 📚Beyer et al. (2015) Am J Sports Med 📚NICE guidelines (2020 update) 📚Qaseem et al. (2018) Ann Intern Med 📚Stochkendahl et al. (2018) Eur Spine J. 📚Wong et al. (2017) Eur J Pain.

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