Lower back pain is one of the most common types of pain-related sleeplessness.
8 out of 10 of us will experience lower back pain at some point in our lives.
The most likely causes of lower back pain are poor core stability due to poor posture and weak abdominal muscles, bending and lifting with incorrect techniques, excess weight and poor sleeping posture. Sleep disruption seems to make the pain feel worse. So what can be done?
For lower back pain, it is always better to see a physiotherapist earlier rather than later.
They can help diagnose the cause and give you some tips on how to take good care of your back. A physiotherapist will first assess and explain what the problem is. He or she will want to know if back pain is preventing sleep or if you wake in the night and then feel pain.
The problem will then be treated with a wide variety of different therapies including manipulation, massage, back strengthening ‘pilates’ type exercises, posture re-education, acupuncture and visualisation exercises. Advice will also be offered on self care as well as home exercises.
The following Good Sleep Expert tips may offer relief and prevention:
- Sleeping position: Your sleeping position could be making the problems worse. If you lie on your back try using a pillow under your knees and if you sleep on your side try putting a pillow between your knees.
- Mattress check: Ensure your mattress is suitable for your situation. If you are sharing a small mattress, you may sleep in awkward, uncomfortable positions because you are being crowded out. If your mattress is too soft or too old your back may not be getting enough support. A banana mattress will make things worse.
- Pillow check: It is important for your pillow to support your neck and lower back in the correct mid-line posture
- Bed height: Your bed should be a height that makes it easy to get into and out of bed. When getting in, sit on the edge, lower your body on to one elbow and shoulder, and draw up your knees and then feet. Reverse the procedure to get out.
- Pay attention to your posture during the day: More and more of us are leading sedentary lives and required to sit for long periods so correct sitting posture is important. When sitting, try and choose a firm backed chair. Sit up and use the back rest for support; push your buttocks well to the back of the chair and your back will naturally fall properly into the backrest of the chair. When sitting in a chair without a backrest, strive to sit up straight. Drop your shoulders down and bring your chest up, like there is a string coming down from the roof, pulling your chest up. When sitting at a computer, push your chair and your tummy close to the desk. Make sure that the monitor is situated directly in front of you and limit lap top use or make sure that you use a second keyboard and separate the screen from the key board. If sitting for a long period of time, it really is important to get up and stretch every 20 minutes. If standing at a counter for long periods of time or in a queue you should also make sure you pay attention to your posture.
- Analyze your footwear. Depending on how much running you do try to replace running shoes every 6-8 months since they are made from soft materials and flatten after repeated use, causing your foot to lose support, which in turn will cause back problems. And vary the height of your shoes. You don’t need to wear flat shoes all the time, just make sure you wear a variety of different heel heights.
- Back strengthening exercises: It is important to do some strengthening and coordination exercises, such as pilates, to keep your back muscles and pelvic floor strong, as weak abs and pelvic floor muscles support your lower back. Weight training and stretching exercises will increase muscle tone and help make your back healthier. Make sure you consult a physiotherapist before beginning any exercise program and he or she can teach you appropriate exercises and work with you to create a programme that suits your needs.
- Wrap up warm: Drafts can magnify muscle spasm so wear as many air trapping layers as possible. Bear in mind too that stress can also increase muscle spasm so watch your stress levels.
- Core stability exercises: Pull your tummy muscles in 100 per cent, and then release 70 per cent retaining a 30 per cent contraction and try to maintain this during the day. One way to help you do this is to tie a string around your tummy at a 30 percent contraction. The string should feel comfortable not tight.