Low back pain (LBP) is a common problem — 8 in 10 adults will experience it at some point in their lives.
But did you know there are some causes of LBP that are more common for males?
WellTuned spoke with Tyler Waclawski, certified exercise physiologist at BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, to find out more.
How common is low back pain?
Waclawski: Nearly 65 million Americans report a recent episode of back pain. And 8% of adults experience chronic back pain to the point that it limits their everyday activities.
What are the most common causes of low back pain in general?
Waclawski: We use our lower backs for most movements and activities throughout the day. That makes our lower backs particularly susceptible to injury.
In general, the most common cause of low back pain is injury caused by:
- Lack of flexibility
- Lack of core strength
- Improper form when lifting weights or heavy items
What are the most common causes of low back pain for males?
Waclawski: When it comes to males, look out for 5 things:
- Weak core muscles
- Lifting more weight than you should
- Tight hamstrings, glutes and hips
- Conditions that cause muscle spasms and nerve pain (ex. sciatica, piriformis syndrome)
- A strained or tight thigh muscle
Specifically, pay attention to the tensor fascia latae (TFL) muscle, which provides pelvic stability and is frequently injured by runners.
What can males do to prevent low back pain?
Waclawski: The two most important things are to:
Neither has to be a major undertaking! Adding just a few minutes of movements and stretching goes a long way to improving strength in these crucial areas. And most can be done in your work clothes and without gym equipment.
And, if you aren’t currently doing any core or mobility exercises, you should notice improvement even faster. Just make sure your healthcare provider signs off on the exercises before you start.
What about people who suffer from chronic lower back pain?
Waclawski: Working toward less pain may seem tedious and discouraging at times, but slow, steady improvement is the most achievable approach.
- Your back is being used frequently throughout the day, so it will take time to recover the more it’s used.
- If your pain reaches a debilitating level, seek medical attention to make sure there aren’t any underlying issues causing the pain.
Aside from that, there’s no reason chronic lower back pain should discourage you from working towards recovery with the right guidance and supervision.
More on low back pain from WellTuned
- Acute lower back pain 101: causes, treatments & prevention
- 10 facts about low back pain — and how to prevent it
Get more information about specific health terms, topics and conditions to better manage your health on bcbst.com. BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee members can access wellness-related discounts on fitness products, gym memberships, healthy eating and more through Blue365®. BCBST members can also find tools and resources to help improve health and well-being by logging into BlueAccess and going to the Managing Your Health tab.