Modern life should be a walk in the park, full of conveniences designed to take the strain of back-breaking labor of the not-so-good old days. Daily living is set up to ensure efficacy and productiveness; from ready meals to remote working. As a result, we generally have much less physically demanding lives.
Yet, nearly everyone has or knows someone suffering from back pain, and it’s not the après workout pain we all know and love. This pain in the lumbar spine region (lower back) can be a result of injury, disease, or even without any obvious cause (known as non-specific pain).
Having escaped the yoke of physical labor, most of us sit at desk jobs, hunched over computers. Instead of walking to work, we sit in our luxury SUVs and drive. At home, we slump on our soft, comfortable sofas and stare at electronic devices. This all takes a toll on our bodies, including posture, weight gain and back pain.
Back pain was once the domain of the aged, however our sedentary lifestyles have broken down that generational barrier. It is no longer uncommon to hear 20-somethings complaining of their bad backs which they haven’t blown out on heavy *ss deadlifts. No, these are keyboard warriors, much more Big Bang’s Sheldon Cooper than eight-time Mr Olympia winner Ronnie Coleman.
When presented with back pain, doctors diagnose nearly half of people with sciatica. This is due to the sciatic nerve, the longest nerve in the body, running down the back of the pelvis, the buttocks and legs to the feet. Irritation and or compression of this nerve can lead to sciatica.
Degenerative disk disease (aging) and piriformis syndrome (where the piriformis muscle located in the buttocks spasms) can also cause nerve irritation or compression. However, slipped or herniated disks are more likely to be the cause of a diagnosis of sciatica. This can sound a death knell for those who like to keep fit, as many doctors advocate rest and avoiding physical activity.
Knowledge is power and knowing how to prevent and treat lower back pain is essential. To get to the bottom of any back pain it is always best to consult a professional to diagnose or rule out sprains, fractures, arthritis, spondylolisthesis (a condition where the vertebrae in the lower back slip out of place) and other conditions. However, even with a diagnosis of sciatica, all is not lost.
Even if your sciatica is from piriformis syndrome, there are ways to help yourself that don’t just include painkillers and TV box sets. There are exercises to improve back flexibility and core stability, which translates into improved back health. They are easy to perform and even if you don’t have sciatica, can help to keep your back in prime condition.