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Understanding and Managing Acute Lower Back Pain

Acute lower back pain is a largely common condition that comes with distressing symptoms, particularly if the back pain comes on with no major incident or injury. Whether you're dealing with out of the blue discomfort or looking to prevent it, this blog post aims to provide you with valuable insights into understanding, managing, and preventing acute lower back pain.

Understanding Acute Lower Back Pain

Acute lower back pain refers to sudden, sharp pain that typically lasts for a few days to a few weeks. It often arises due to overload of the muscles, ligaments, or other soft tissues in the lower back. However, is never in isolation. It commonly coincides with changes in day to day activities, poor sleep, periods of higher stress, under-fuelling and overworking. While the pain can be debilitating in the beginning, the good news is that majority of cases of acute lower back pain improve with proper care, graded exposure back to activity and self-management.

Managing Acute Lower Back Pain:

Avoiding Prolonged Postures

Trying to consistently move and change positions throughout the day will help minimise the associated stiffness and sharp pain you can develop when shifting between sitting and standing after long periods.

Pain Relief

Heat Therapy

Gentle Exercises and Activity Modification

Here Sarah (and Sunny!) shows Flexion (bending forward) exercises for Lower back pain:

Following from previous Flexion videos, here is Sarah and Sunny showing controlled range extension (bending backward) exercises for Lower Back Pain.

Pain Traffic Light System:

Lower back pain in these cases can be debilitating and unbearable however, high pain levels don’t always mean there is structural damage or that the pain means the injury is worsening. In the clinic we like to use a traffic light system to help guide whether pain during activity is okay, needs to be monitored or is too much and activity should be ceased.

(Canva image with traffic light for visual affect?)

  • Pain scale out of 10 =

  • 0-4 = Green & Go

  • 5-7 = Yellow & Proceed with Caution or Modify

  • 8-10 = Red & Stop

Preventing Acute Lower Back Pain:

Engaging in regular physical activity helps maintain strong muscles and a healthy spine. Consistent progressive loading is important, with pain more likely to occur with low or high spikes in training loads. You should incorporate a large variety of trunk and pelvic exercises that focus on different movement patterns so our body is prepared for all types of positions. Avoiding certain movements completely decreases our bodies overall capacity and increases susceptibility of hurting ourselves when challenged in those positions day to day.

Ergonomic Considerations

Whether at home or work, ensure that your environment supports good posture. Invest in ergonomic furniture and accessories to reduce strain on your lower back.

Stress Reduction


Here Sarah shows us 90/90 Breathing and Pelvic Tilt techniques.

In conclusion, Acute lower back pain can be a temporary setback, but with the right approach, you can effectively manage the pain, promote healing, and prevent future episodes. Where necessary, seeking allied health professional guidance to help identify the causes, create a management plan, and adopt healthy habits, will help ensure that your lower back remains strong, flexible, and pain-free.

Remember, self-care, consistent exercise and a proactive approach are key to a healthy back and overall well-being.

Team Motus x

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