Most adults have experienced some pain from standing for a long period of time. You need only look at the products available for back pain to know this is true. From creams and rubs to shock therapy to special shoe inserts to a wide variety of pills, the store is packed full of products that claim to give you some relief from back pain. If you have been experiencing lower back pain, especially pain caused by standing for long periods, you may be wondering how to get some relieve. To fix your back pain problem, you need to understand what causes the pain, how to prevent it, and how to treat it.
What Causes Lower Back Pain?
Lower back pain is an extremely common condition that plagues numerous people every year. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, up to 80% of adults may experience lower back or lumbar pain at some point in their lives. The problem seems to have gotten worse in recent years, with more cases of back pain being reported every year. Medical professionals contribute this increase to an increasingly sedentary lifestyle.
Lower back pain can vary from person to person, ranging from a dull or aching pain to a sharp or stabbing sensation. The severity can be mild or severe and may be short-term or could last more than 12 weeks resulting in a chronic pain condition. In some cases, back pain can resolve itself with rest, but more severe or chronic pain often requires therapy or medical treatment.
To understand what could be causing your pain, it is important to understand a little about the biology of the lumbar or lower region of the back and spine. This region is home to numerous vertebra and their associated intervertebral discs. Additionally, there are two large muscles, the nerve roots that connect the spine and brain to the legs and lower body, various tendons that support your body’s movement, and a collection of smaller nerves.
Spine Health indicates that lower back pain can be caused by the nerves, muscles, intervertebral discs, tendons, or other structures in the lumbar region or lower back. Nerves can become irritated, muscles might be strained, discs could be compressed – anything that adds stress or causes inflammation can cause serious lower back pain. This could be a result of sudden injury or abnormal movement, or it could be brought on by consistent stress over time.
How Can Standing Too Long Cause Pain?
Standing for long periods can be a cause of or contributing factor in lumbar pain. What may start as a dull ache or a little discomfort can turn into severe pain after standing for too long. This pain may take hours to appear, often worsening overnight. It can take days or weeks to find some relief. When this happens frequently, moderate back pain can worsen, or the condition could become chronic.
According to research reported by WebMD, standing for more than two hours at a time can increase muscle fatigue, cause inflammation and result in lower back pain, which may have a significant impact on mobility and lifestyle. Standing increases the stress on the muscles and tendons in the lower back. It can also compress the intervertebral discs. This contributes to inflammation, which can add nerve pain to the equation.
What Can You Do to Reduce Lower Back Pain?
If you have been experiencing lower back pain from standing, it is time to take action. The longer your pain continues, the worse the condition can become, so getting started right away is essential. To reduce your pain, you need to focus on things you can do while standing and while resting.
To improve your pain level while standing, try the following techniques:
- Shift Your Weight
While standing, you can get some relief from pain and reduce the likelihood it will occur by regularly shifting your weight. This process changes the position of your muscles, preventing the stress and reducing the risk of inflammation associated with staying in the same position for too long. Try standing with your weight shifted to the right for 30 to 60 seconds and then switching to the left side. You can also shift your weight forward to your toes and then back to your heels in the same manner. Try to do this at least two times per hour.
- Stretch it Out
Another quick fix when you begin to experience pain from standing is to gently stretch the muscles of your lower back, sides, and glutes. These muscles can all start to tighten while standing, which contributes to strain, inflammation, and pain. Try stretching gently to touch your toes, bending slowly side to side, or slowly pulling your knee to your chest. These stretches help to loosen tight muscles and relieve some of the pain you are feeling. Aim for at least one minute of stretching for every hour of standing.
- Take Frequent Breaks
Although this may not be possible for some individuals, one of the best ways to reduce the pain felt from standing too long is by taking frequent breaks to sit down and allow your back and leg muscles to relax. Sitting or lying down for a few minutes can have a major impact on how compressed and sore your lumbar region gets. Even if you do not get frequent breaks, be sure to take full advantage of break time by sitting, gently leaning forward across your knees to stretch the back, or lying flat for a few minutes.
To reduce pain and treat lower back pain after standing, try the following:
- Ice, Heat, & Medication
Another method that can offer relief from low back pain involves using a technique to reduce inflammation. Inflamed muscles press on nerves and create the pain sensations that cause discomfort and restrict your mobility. Using a combination of ice, heat, and anti-inflammatory medication can help reduce much of the pain you feel after a long day on your feet.
- Give Therapy a Try
Several techniques exist that offer pain relief specifically geared toward the lower back. Physical therapists can work with you on stretching, strengthening, and recovering from injury. Their techniques can be done even after therapy is complete to prevent further injury. Chiropractic practitioners can also offer some relief, and their methods aim at keeping the body in line to prevent future issues.
Additionally, therapy methods like traction can help alleviate stress on the lower back resulting in greater mobility and pain relief.
What Else Might Help?
There are some other changes you can make that may go a long way to improving your lower back pain. Strengthening your back, regular stretching, and a healthy diet may help you reduce pain and prevent it in the future. Consider taking some or all of these steps to aid in reducing your pain:
- Strengthen the Muscles of Your Lower Back
Increasing the strength of the muscles in and around your lower back can make you them more supportive, so they reduce stress on the muscles and nerves in the area. It can also increase the resilience of these muscles, making them better able to handle extended periods of stress and shortening your recovery time. Be sure to start small and maintain appropriate form when focusing on these muscles to prevent injury.
- Make Yoga or Gentle Stretching Part of Your Routine
Adding regular stretching to your daily routine can contribute to the flexibility and strength of your spine and its supporting muscles. This can help reduce the risk of injury, improve your pain level, and reduce the likelihood of back pain in the future. Yoga or other stretching techniques focus on slow, lengthening moves that are low-impact but work to increase strength, which are great for individuals already suffering from lumbar pain.
- Eat More Nutritious Foods
Nutritious foods contain a variety of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that can contribute to overall health and improve many conditions, including lower back pain. This is especially true of foods that fight inflammation – one of the primary causes of pain. The Cleveland Clinic indicates that eating nutritious foods like those rich in omega-3s and protein and limiting inflammation causing items like red meat, sugars, and fried foods can help fix back pain.
Back pain when standing may have been a problem for you, but you can fix it. By focusing on making little changes while you are standing, you can help prevent the pain from occurring. Understanding the options available for treating yourself when lumbar pain does occur can speed your recovery and reduce your discomfort. Finally, making some life changes can make your lower back pain a thing of the past. With these tips, you are on your way to reducing your pain and improving your mobility.