Lockdowns, Inactivity and Lower Back Pain

With the lockdowns over the past 2 years and people being less active has this resulted in more lower back pain issues?

In this week’s blog I take a look at some of the evidence from around the world to see what effect lockdowns and inactivity have had on lower back pain.

Lockdowns and health

Love them or hate them lockdowns have now become part of daily life for some people in many countries around the world.

Many services such as gyms and even parks were closed off to the public so many people were unable to undertake their normal exercise routines.

picture of outdoor gym closed off during lockdown

It had a terrible effect on peoples weight with the average weight gain in the USA being 29 pounds and in the, UK 7 pounds during the lockdown periods.

Not only does this bring many people into the obese category, therefore, increasing their risk of covid complications but the inactivity that came along with lockdowns also had an effect on lower back pain.

Lower back pain and inactivity

You see when we are unable to exercise, go to the gym, run in the park our muscles begin to atrophy.

Muscular atrophy is essentially a reduction in muscle mass whereby the muscle fibres reduce in size and in overall number leading to decreased muscle strength.

Atrophy of the muscles around the spine, especially the paraspinal muscle has been implicated in many low back pain studies.

diagram showing paraspinal muscles associated with lower back pain
Anatomy of the Paraspinal muscles surrounding the spine

So, in simple language the more inactive we are the weaker the muscles supporting our spine become and the more chance we will have of exacerbating existing lower back pain or having a new occurrence of lower back pain.

Has there been an increase in lower back pain during the pandemic?

So we understand how inactivity can cause back pain but has there been an increase in the number of people complaining of lower back pain?

Researchers from across the world have been studying the incidence of lower back pain/chronic back pain during the pandemic and have seen a definitive increase in both incidence rate and pain intensity of pain.

Separate studies from Brazil, France and Saudi Arabia have all noted a significant increase in lower back pain and pain intensity.

They have attributed this to the lockdowns which in turn have resulted in more people adopting sedentary behaviors along with poor working from home ergonomics.

Work station and back pain

I have already discussed this in a previous blog article here but having the correct home office set up goes a long way to preventing and managing lower back pain.

Research undertaken on office workers during the pandemic lockdowns found that compared to previous work in the office almost 40% participants reported increased pain in their lower back.

diagram for correct position at sitting and standing workstation to avoid back pain

If you are continuing to work at home you need to ensure you have the correct ergonomic set up in your home office to lessen your chances of back pain.

The role of exercise and back pain

It should be apparent by now that sedentary behaviors are detrimental to not only our general health but also our back health and we should be taking preventative action now to help our future selves.

I have discussed the need for exercise and back health in a previous article here and listed some of the best activities for back pain.

senior man on wooden deck performing front plank core exercise to prevent lower back pain

If you want to start right now I suggest you have a look at my beginner’s core exercises video below which can be done at home without the need for any special equipment.

Tackle your lower back pain now!

There is no time like the present to start taking control of your back pain.

You can start with my above exercise but I also encourage you to include more bouts of activity throughout your day.

Taking a short walk around your block/building or simply going up and down your stairs a few times every hour or so will definitely help.

Try to reduce the time spent in one position, get up from your desk and taking a walk around the room every hour or so will also help.

man sitting in office chair exercise at work

Staying active and exercising are some of the best things that you can do and they are free and accessible to everyone.

It will also help with reducing those extra pandemic pounds that many of us acquired during this time.

If you have tried to reduce your back pain and have been unsuccessful please sign up for my lower back pain relief email newsletter or check out my YouTube channel for more helpful tips and exercises.

If you need further help you can also check out my 21 days lower back pain recovery program.

If you have found this information helpful and useful please feel free to share this with others who may also be suffering from lower back/sciatica pain.

Spread the love people!

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