How to Reduce Lower Back Flexion Pain [5 Ways]
Your lower back pain could come from how you’re bending and moving. Here’s your chance to learn about lower back flexion pain and how it can affect your daily life.
What Is Spinal Flexion?
Spinal flexion is the medical term for bending forward. While bending forward may seem simple because you’ve been doing it your entire life, taking time to understand how flexion works and affects your body can help you guard against both spinal and muscular lower back pain.
The most common type of flexion that causes damage to your back is when you are lifting or carrying a heavy object, also known as loaded flexion. Loaded flexion is dangerous because the additional weight you are carrying can directly impact your intervertebral discs.
Intervertebral discs are the small shock absorbers positioned between each vertebra in your spine. A healthy disc stops the vertebrae from grinding against each other and plays a vital role in your back’s flexibility and mobility. However, when a disc is damaged or herniated, it can no longer perform its role in protecting your vertebra, leading to lasting, constant, and even severe back pain.
How to Flex Without Pain
Because incorrect lower back flexion can damage your back, it’s essential to learn how to do it correctly.
Proper technique can help prevent injury, but the method doesn’t make you invulnerable to damage. Always consider what you are lifting before you lift, and know your limitations. If something is too heavy, put it down and ask for help.
Here are two of the biggest ways to help protect your back when lifting.
1. Bend with your knees, not with your back. When you are lifting, always keep your back properly aligned. Keep your chest forward and squat down, bending your knees to reach something on the ground. This position puts the pressure and weight of bending on your legs, which are better suited for carrying weight than the sensitive discs and vertebrae in your back.
2. Plant your feet shoulder-width apart. A solid foundation will help you better distribute your weight and prevent your body from twisting or turning, which will help you be safer while you lift.
Back Pain in the Morning
When you have a good night’s rest, the discs in your spine are no longer actively supporting weight and can relax. Because they’re no longer under pressure, your spinal discs absorb additional fluid throughout the night and decompress to about 25% larger than after a long day on your feet.
This extra padding in your spine isn’t always a good thing because the additional fluid can cause additional pressure on your spine. Paired with spinal flexion, it creates the perfect recipe for back pain and injury. Because everyone experiences this recovery period when they sleep, you should avoid flexion activities in the morning.
If you’re struggling to avoid flexion in the early morning, consider starting your day by taking a shower and shaving, brushing your hair, or doing your makeup while standing up. Be mindful about bending down to put on your shoes, as your back is sensitive during this period, and it is common for people to injure their lower back during this activity.
5 Methods for Reducing Lower Back Flexion Pain
Your posture absolutely plays a role in the health of your spine. Keeping your posture in mind as you rest and while you move can help prevent injuries and help reduce the pain from any existing injuries.
Remember, you should have two different types of posture—dynamic posture and static posture. Dynamic posture is when you are moving, while static posture is when you sit, stand, or lie down.
A key part of both postures is to keep your spine aligned and avoid keeping it twisted or turned for an extended period. Maintaining your posture throughout the day can help prevent aches and pains. It also helps improve circulation throughout your body and to injured areas, which can help improve recovery times from injuries.
Your spinal discs are composed of more than 70% water. Throughout your daily functions, about 25% of it can exit and enter the disk, changing the disc pressure and protection it can provide your spine.
While you may have heard you should have eight glasses of water every day to stay hydrated, the truth is that proper hydration is a bit more complicated than that. While eight glasses a day is a good starting point, hydration depends on your activity level, age, gender, and where you live.
A better approach to checking your hydration levels is with your urine. If you are hydrated, you should feel the urge to urinate between six and eight times a day. When you urinate, if the color is a concentrated yellow or amber or has a strong urine smell, you need to drink more water. If you are adequately hydrated, your urine will be a pale yellow and have very little or no smell.
The best way to prepare your back for spinal flexion is by doing it yourself in a controlled environment through yoga and stretching. By gently stretching your back, you improve your spine’s flexibility, strength, and mobility.
Remember that as you stretch, you should only go as far as you are comfortable. If the stretch feels uncomfortable or you feel a stabbing or throbbing pain, release the stretch or try a variation.
Because your back is a key part of all movements, daily exercise is a great way to strengthen and condition your back. You don’t need to go out and run a marathon to feel the benefits of exercise; a simple 10 to 15-minute walk can improve your back’s health.
If you have recently injured your back, you should always consult your doctor to determine what activity level you can safely manage. Always follow your doctor’s directions and instructions to avoid overextending yourself and exacerbating an existing injury.
A neuro-muscular electrical nerve stimulation (NMES) unit sends electrical signals directly to the nerves in your back, causing it to flex and contract. An NMES unit like NeuroMD’s Corrective Therapy Device® for back pain creates a controlled environment where you can safely and gently work your back muscles. By using the unit, you can gently strengthen and condition your back muscles without the risk of overextending or reinjuring an existing injury.
Spinal Flexion and Herniated Discs
Carrying too much weight and experiencing too much spinal flexion can lead to a herniated disc injury.
Normally, a disc in your spine sits between two vertebrae. The center of the disc is a jelly-like substance that cushions movements and protects your back from injury. If left on its own, that jelly nucleus would spread everywhere and leave your spine, but luckily there is a rubbery exterior called an annulus that keeps the jelly nucleus contained between the vertebrae.
A herniated disk is a tear or weak point in the annulus that allows some of the nucleus to seep out.
Many people who have herniated discs never notice it and experience no pain. The herniated nucleus solves itself in less than a month, and there are no lasting signs there was ever an injury.
Some people experience pain, pressure, tingling, and numbness due to the hernia because the excess fluid presses on the nerves that travel through the spine. For those who experience pain from a herniated disc, rest and relaxation for a few weeks can be enough for your body to heal and repair the damage.
When Should You See a Doctor?
If your pain starts to travel down your arm, leg, or back, or you are experiencing weakness in your arms or legs, you should seek medical attention immediately. This can signify complications that may require surgical attention to treat.
If your pain is intense enough that it stops you from holding a regular conversation or is enough to stop you from your everyday daily activities, it’s time to see a doctor.
Here are some of the most commonly asked questions about lumbar spine flexion and its role in back pain.
Why Does My Lower Back Hurt When I Flex My Back?
Lower back pain when bending over is due to excess strain on your back muscles. If you’re experiencing severe lower back pain, you may be suffering from a herniated disc or other back injuries.
What Causes Back Pain with Flexion?
The most common reason you experience back pain with flexion is overexertion of your back muscles. However, trauma to your back or a herniated disc can also lead to back pain with flexion.
How Do You Fix Lumbar Flexion?
If you are looking to fix lumbar or spinal flexion, it’s important to first understand what spinal flexion is. Spinal flexion is any bending or contraction in your spine. Flexion is the opposite of extension, which is about elongating and stretching.
As the most simple example, lumbar flexion is bending down to touch the ground, while lumbar extension is stretching up to touch the ceiling. Because flexion is a normal part of the movement of your body, there is nothing to fix.
If you are experiencing pain while performing a lumbar flexion, there is most likely an issue with your back muscles. Rest and relaxation are good places to start because your body will heal most back injuries in only a few weeks.
What Is Lumbar Flexion Syndrome?
Lumbar Flexion Syndrome is when your lumbar region (lower back) is more flexible than hip flexion motion. This causes the lower back to continually slouch and arc inward and can lead to pain in the lower back, out to the sides of the stomach, and sometimes down the legs.
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