If you have recently changed your car tires or lifted a heavy object and felt pain or aching during the activity or later in the evening or the next day, you are not alone. This type of low back pain is very common and is called mechanical lumbar pain.
Don’t worry, mechanical low back pain is not dangerous, and can usually be relieved and treated easily.
Mechanical lumbar pain occurs when the spine goes through certain positions or movements that load the spine too much in one specific direction such as:
As a consequence, the load on these tissues/joints will create an imbalance in the load and pressure on one side of the spine causing movement stiffness and resulting in mechanical back pain with or without radiation into the leg (also known as Sciatica) depending on the amount of compression that occured.
Some joints and tissues in the lumbar spine can get a bit stiff or blocked with changing tires or lifting heavy objects, and if they remain stiff or blocked, mechanical pain will develop and will last until the normal and full spine flexibility has been restored, essentially restoring the normal mechanics of the spine.
If the spine is missing flexibility or if the movement is not fully restored after the stiffness appears, the lumbar spine will stay mechanically limited and people will fee:
If mechanical low back pain or stiffness doesn’t go away in a few days it is usually not necessary to see a doctor, to wait in the emergency room for hours, to take medication to just mask the symptoms, injections, x-rays or other imaging.
A physiotherapist can see you much sooner and has the right knowledge and training to precisely examine, clarify, and treat these types of low back pain problems, since most of the time these are mechanical and just need the right exercise.
Physiotherapists who are McKenzie MDT Certified (see official list on www.McKenzieInstituteCanada.org) have a much higher level of post-graduate expertise to not only confirm the the type of back pain and find an effective solution faster, in less visits, but will also teach you how to treat back pain on your own, without medication and without depending on a therapist for many visits. This approach will save you valuable time and money.
The best way to relieve back pain and stiffness with long-term results is to first make sure you have the right diagnosis of low back pain. The biggest subgroup of low back pain is mechanical, and these individuals need to find the right movement/exercise that will unblock the stiffness and restore their lost movement, but they also need to temporarily avoid/eliminate the wrong movement/exercise. When this is done correctly, the mechanical pain will subside rapidly, and the tissues will then have the right conditions to heal on their own.
Try these exercises carefully, and remember, the goal is not to mix them all up, but to identify the right one for your low back pain and then repeat only that specific movement a few times per day for a few days. The correct exercise should gradually decrease the back pain when repeating it, while the wrong exercises to avoid are the ones that increase the pain when repeating them.
The correct exercise will feel good to repeat and will restore your lumbar spine mobility. The wrong exercises will produce a bad pain, or a new pain down the buttock down the leg, and might also stiffen up the spine even more.
If you’re not sure which exercises you should select in order to relieve your low back pain or stiffness, you can speak to one of our Certified McKenzie MDT Physiotherapists or book an appointment for an evaluation.
To relieve and treat low back pain or lumbar stiffness that persists after changing or lifting tires or a heavy object, make sure that you have the correct diagnosis of mechanical lumbar pain and find the correct exercise that relieves your low back pain, reduces back stiffness, and restores lumbar mobility. Repeat the good exercise for a few days and temporarily avoid the wrong exercises.