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Lower Back Pain - The Upright Ape's Achilles Heel


I am willing to bet that ever since the first Homo Sapien rose up to peer over the swaying grass of the African plains that shortly thereafter some poor schmuck was doubled over in his cave howling about his low back. It is simple physics really - in the upright position we create a huge concentration of stress at the discs in the lumbar spine.


Low back pain is so ubiquitous that we actually make memes about it. Just check out this great video by musical comedian Tom Cardy lamenting humanities most common musculoskeletal problem.


So rest assured my very unhappy friends. You are not alone. But luckily there are some excellent strategies that can get you back on track.


  1. Oral Anti-Inflammatories: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen or naproxen, can be effective in reducing inflammation and alleviating pain associated with back issues. These medications can help manage acute pain episodes and allow individuals to engage in rehabilitative exercises more comfortably. Typically I recommend utilizing these type medications at a high dose for a period of 5-7 days to help quell the initial inflammation after a back injury. It is best to consult with your friendly neighborhood orthopedist as to what dose is appropriate for your age and health status.

  2. Heat Compress: Applying heat to the affected area is a time-tested method for relieving back pain. Heat helps increase blood flow, relax muscles, and reduce stiffness. Individuals can use heating pads, warm compresses, or take warm baths to soothe sore muscles and alleviate discomfort. It's crucial to balance heat application with caution, avoiding excessive heat that could lead to burns or skin irritation. I typically recommend doing this once in the morning and once in the evening during episodes of acute back pain.

  3. Aerobic Exercise: Multiple studies demonstrate the effectiveness of low intensity aerobic exercise for the relief of low back pain. The reason this is effective is that during exercise the body releases multiple local and hormonal chemical modulators that relax skeletal muscle. I recommend the use of a recumbent bike, as it is the lowest stress on the lumbar spine, for 20 minutes per day at a pace that induces a light sweat but

  4. Physical Therapy: A comprehensive physical therapy program can incorporate various modalities, including exercises, stretches, and manual therapies, to address back pain. Physical therapists focusing on strengthening core muscles, and improving flexibility.

  5. Muscle Relaxation Techniques: This includes modalities like chiropracty, acupuncture and massage therapy: Massage therapy can be beneficial for relieving muscle tension and promoting relaxation. A skilled massage therapist can target specific areas of discomfort, helping to improve blood circulation and reduce pain. Regular massage sessions may complement other treatment modalities in a holistic approach to back pain management.

  6. Inversion Therapy: Inversion tables or devices allow individuals to hang upside down, creating a traction effect on the spine. This method is believed to decompress the spine, reduce gravitational pressure, and alleviate back pain. However, it's essential to use inversion therapy cautiously and consult with a healthcare professional, especially for individuals with certain health conditions.


I hope that helps! And of course, if you are experiencing more severe back pack pain that is increasing in intensity or accompanied by numbness, tingling, or acute deficits in strength please seek out a health care provider right away. You can always give us a call at 408-353-0203 and we will get you sorted.

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