If you’re experiencing lower back pain when bending over, you’re not the only one.
According to studies, up to 23% of the world’s adult population suffers from chronic back pain, with a one-year recurrence rate of 24% to 80%. (1)
But you’re probably wondering what causes pain when bending over, and I’m here to satisfy your curiosity and give you a few tips for pain relief.
Just keep reading.
Table of Contents
- Lower back pain when bending is a common complaint in adults, and it can be caused by injury, strain, or an underlying problem.
- Gentle stretching exercises are perfect for relieving lower back discomfort, increasing range of motion, and preventing muscle spasms.
- Always consult a doctor if your pain doesn’t improve in a couple of days or prevents you from walking or moving.
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7 Common Causes of Lower Back Pain When Bending Over
Whenever you experience lower back pain when bending, it’s natural to worry. But as you’ll see, most causes are not serious, and the discomfort will resolve with rest.
However, severe pain can be a warning sign that something is wrong with your spine and surrounding areas. And not getting help on time can make your condition worse.
So, you should see a doctor to rule out serious medical conditions, some of which I’ll mention below.
#1 Back Injury
Strained muscles are one of the most common reasons for lower back pain. Here’s how it happens.
Bending puts pressure on the lower back, even when you perform everyday activities, like lifting. And repeating the same action over and over overuses the muscles, leading to strain.
Moreover, it’s easy to make a movement that overstretches the back muscles/ligaments excessively, causing them to spasm and hurt.
Damage to the lower back muscles or ligaments also causes inflammation, contributing to pain when moving or resting.
Stiffness, limited range of motion, and muscle spasms are the other common complaints of people with a lower back muscle strain. In addition to traditional treatments, many find relief through massage for chronic pain.
The best treatment is rest combined with applying ice and heat. But if you’re not feeling better after a few days, you should talk to your doctor about non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs.
#2 Muscle Spasms
Muscle spasms are another possible reason for lower back pain when bending. A spasm is a sudden muscle tightness, which can feel like a twinge or a sharp pain.
As specialists from Spine-Health explain,
“A back spasm can occur after any type of strain or injury to the soft tissues (muscles, tendons, or ligaments) in the spine.” (2)
But bad posture, poor sleep position, muscle overuse, nerve compression, or dehydration can also cause painful spasms that make your life difficult.
Massages, hot/cold compresses, and stretching exercises can help with the pain. Or you can try over-the-counter pain relievers.
#3 Herniated disc
The human spine is made from 23 spine discs, which provide cushioning, absorb pressure, and protects the spinal cord.
A herniated disc means one of these discs protrudes and presses on a nearby nerve. And that’s why you’re in pain. You may also feel muscle weakness or leg numbness.
The usual treatment involves non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs, physical therapy, and rest. In severe cases, doctors can recommend surgery.
The cartilage that protects your joints wears down with age, which leads to joint pain, inflammation, and swelling. That’s what doctors arthritis.
There’s one type of arthritis that affects the lower back, resulting in chronic pain. It’s called ankylosing spondylitis, and in severe cases, it can cause the bones in the spine to fuse.
If you don’t treat it in time, this bone fusion can lead to immobility. So, seek medical attention for pain, low-grade fever, weight loss, and poor posture.
Osteroartis and rheumatoid arthritis can also affect the joints in the back, causing inflammation and discomfort when bending.
If you have a herniated disc and the disc puts stress on the sciatic nerve, you’ve got sciatica. It can cause a burning sensation or sharp aches from the back to the legs.
The good news is that sciatica can get better without any surgery for most people, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. (3)
The vertebrae are the small bones that form the spinal column. Spondylolysis occurs when a weakness or a stress fracture occurs in one vertebra.
It’s one of the leading causes of lower back pain in adolescents that engage in physical activities that put pressure on the lower back, such as gymnastics, weightlifting, or football.
Nonsurgical treatment involves rest, physical therapy, bracing, and NSAIDs.
Spondylolysis and spondylolisthesis are related. When a stress fracture weakens the bone so much that it can’t maintain its proper position, the affected part of the vertebrae slips out of place.
When it affects children, spondylolisthesis occurs most often during rapid growth. You should watch out for back stiffness, tight hamstrings, and problems with walking or standing.
Treatment can be surgical or nonsurgical, depending on the grade of slippage. Specialists also consider spondylolisthesis and spondylolysis to have a genetic
Now, let me give you some tips on reducing lower back pain when bending over.
5 Tips to Reduce Lower Back Pain When Bending Over
You can reduce lower back pain at home with these simple tips. However, you should consult a doctor if your lower back pain is intense and impacts your quality of life.
#1 Try Back Stretching Exercises
Back stretches are perfect for maintaining muscle flexibility, reducing stiffness, and strengthening your ligaments.
Stretching also relieves lower back discomfort, strengthens your core muscles, and encourages proper posture. However, you have to exercise regularly to reap the benefits.
For those needing extra support during these stretches or during daily activities, a lumbar brace can be beneficial. However, you have to exercise regularly to reap the benefits.
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Here are some exercises to try:
#2 Avoid Lifting
If you’re hurting when bending over, avoid lifting heavy weights. If you must bend to pick something off the floor, keep your back straight and bend your knees.
Watch this video to learn more:
#3 Consider NSAIDs
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (ibuprofen or naproxen) can reduce pain and inflammation after a back strain. However, they have many side effects.
#4 Maintain a Healthy Weight
If you’re overweight, you put extra pressure on your spine and back, increasing the risk of back pain. Losing even a few pounds can tremendously affect your lower back pain.
#5 Go to a Massage Therapist
A professional massage therapist can loosen the tight back muscles that are causing you pain. A massage can also improve flexibility, increases blood circulation, and restores range of motion.
1. Is it normal for my back to hurt when I bend over?
It’s not normal for your back to hurt when you bend over. You may have a strained muscle, herniated disc, or another underlying condition.
2. When should I be worried about lower back pain?
Consult a doctor if your condition doesn’t improve after a couple of days of conventional treatment (rest, massages, hot/cold compresses) or if it’s getting worse.
3. How long does lower back strain last?
You should recover from a lower back strain without a month, depending on the severity of the strain.
Lower back pain when bending over is common in adults because bending can stretch the back muscles, strain them, or cause a disc to move and press against a nerve.
Fortunately, resting, applying hot/cold compresses, and massages can reduce the lower back ache and allow you to return to normal activities.
But you should consult a doctor if the pain persists or gets worse. Many treatment options can restore your normal range of motion, even without surgery.
What do you think about these 7 common causes of lower back pain when bending? How do you deal with lower back pain? Share your thoughts in the comment section.
1. Casiano VE, De NK. Back Pain [Internet]. PubMed. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2020. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK538173/
2. DO ZM. What Is Your Back Muscle Spasm Telling You? [Internet]. Spine-health. Available from: https://www.spine-health.com/blog/what-your-back-muscle-spasm-telling-you
3. Sciatica – OrthoInfo – AAOS [Internet]. www.orthoinfo.org. Available from: https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases–conditions/sciatica/