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Lower Back Strain - Self Help

Shaun Pownall's picture

Straining our lower backs is quite a common occurrence and can happen at any time. 

It could happen at work (bending forward to quickly), during a sports activity (twisting whilst playing tennis), and any other day to day activity that we do. 


Knowing how to reduce the risk of this happening and knowing how to treat yourself if this does happen is important for everyone to be aware of. 


First things first


When you have first strained your lower back, you should feel a fair amount of pain and a restriction in movement. 

During this stage, you need to begin with:

  • Resting the area without any pressure being applied. 
  • Applying a cold compress for 15-20 mins every 2-3 hours whilst sitting or lying down, can help to bring down the inflammation and pain felt from the strain. 
  • Adding a heat source such as: hot water bottle, wheat bag or warm bath, can help to make the muscles pliable again and more likely to move with less pain. 
  • From this, you want to start movement and stretching of the area as soon as possible, if this is a minor strain. If this is more of a severe strain, follow the start protocol and get yourself in contact with a medical professional if need be.


What not to do


  • You don’t want to compress the area, like using a back brace.

The reason why we don’t want to compress the area is because this can cause the area to tighten up again. Also, it’s preferred to use the muscles such as core and glutes to help take the pressure off our lower back, as a compress like a back brace won’t teach you what muscles should be activating to keep you upright. 


  • Also, elevation is taken out for the simple reason that it can be too hard to lift your torso above heart level so this can be left, and the exercises/stretching can be focussed on more. 


Slow down, don’t stop


Decreasing the activity level can help from preventing the area from inflaming again but using a variety of stretches with some light movements can significantly improve the recovery rate of this type of injury. 


Eventually, you should be able to get back to normal day-to-day activity without any pain. 

This type of injury (if minor or moderate) can heal quite quick, within a few days to a week with:

  • the right recovery exercises, 
  • a good amount of hydration (to flush out any toxins) and 
  • rest/sleep for the area to repair.


As always, if the area is not recovering as you would expect it might need some hands on therapy and individually tailored exercises.  If you need any more help or advice, book an appointment online.


Shaun Pownall's picture
About Shaun Pownall

Level 5 Advance Sports, Injury and Rehabilitation Therapist.  

He is interested in any Strength Sports and does Powerlifting in his free time.

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