Back pain can be a challenging and persistent issue, especially for women in their 40s. Whether it’s due to a sedentary lifestyle, the demands of work and family, or getting back into a fitness routine postpartum, back pain can greatly affect your quality of life and limit you in doing what you enjoy. If you’re tired of living with back pain, you’re not alone. In this blog post, we’ll explore the causes, prevention, and treatment options for back pain, with a particular focus on how physical therapy can help.
Understanding the Causes:
Before we dive into solutions, it’s essential to understand what causes back pain. For women in their 40s, a variety of factors can contribute to this discomfort:
1. Sedentary Lifestyle: Hours spent sitting at a desk or in front of screens can cause excess stress on back and hip muscles and joints. This can lead to trigger points which can result in pain and weakness.
2. Muscle Weakness: Over time, muscle mass naturally decreases. In fact, as you hit your 30s, we lose 7-10% of muscle mass per decade. Unless you are consistent with strength training and lifting weights, by the time you are in your 40%, you’re likely significantly weaker than you were in your 20%. This can put excess strain on your back especially on busy days when you’re running around after the kids, running a lot of errands, or spending a couple hours cooking..
3. Hormonal and Body Changes: Moms tend to experience back pain postpartum. This can be due to weakness in the core after having a baby. You may even have a diastasis recti or prolapse that’s undiagnosed. Many women we see postpartum are experiencing back pain due the these or even pelvic floor overactivity. Many of them report symptoms of back pain, pain with sex, hip pain, bladder leakage, and even constipation. Perimenopause and menopause can affect bone density and muscle tone, increasing the risk of back pain.
4. Injuries: Previous injuries or accidents can manifest as back pain later in life. This is because you may have recovered from the injury, meaning, the injury itself has healed. But you may not have ‘rehabbed’ the injury, meaning strengthening the muscles around the injury to make your body resilient to reinjury. If you haven’t properly ‘rehabbed’, it’s very likely that your back may be vulnerable to recurring flare ups.
5. Posture: Poor posture itself is not so much the problem as is ‘prolonged’ poor posture. If you tend to stay in any posture for an extended period of time, you are activating certain muscles constantly, leading to overactivity in those muscles resulting in tension. This is very common in the neck, shoulder, low back and buttock muscles
Preventing Back Pain:
Being proactive about your back pain is the best way to handle this. Prevention is the best cure, and you can take steps to minimize your risk of back pain:
1. Daily Walks: Walking is the #1 most proven exercise to help with back pain. Try your best to walk daily, getting 8,000-10,000 steps per day. You can even purchase a walking pad to place at your desk so you can do slow walks while working at your computer or while you are on a call.
2. Regular Exercise: Incorporate strength and flexibility exercises into your routine. Improving your mobility in your hips and back can be particularly beneficial. But it’s imperative that you also incorporate strength training exercises into your weekly routine for a minimum of 20 minutes, 2 times per week. Here’s a good place to start: https://youtu.be/T1Yc-7WQZHE
3. Ergonomics: Set up your workspace to minimize strain on your back and maintain good posture. Click here to find out how to set up your workstation: https://youtu.be/noSQewzI3pQ
4. Healthy Diet: Nutrition plays a role in maintaining strong bones and muscles. Ensure you get enough protein, calcium and vitamin D.
5. Stress Management: High-stress levels can contribute to back pain by increasing the input to your nervous system, making your body hold tension and be more sensitive to the pain. Explore relaxation techniques such as meditation and deep breathing. Yoga is a great way to incorporate meditation, breathing and flexibility into your exercise regimen.
6. Proper Lifting Techniques: Always lift heavy objects with your legs and not your back to avoid injury. Your strength training routine should incorporate squats and deadlifts which will help bulletproof your back to avoid lifting injuries.
The Role of Physical Therapy & Strength Training:
At Body Moksha Physical Therapy, we provide one-on-one strength training sessions as well as physical therapy. If you’re prone to back pain or a novice when it comes to strength training, doing one-on-one strength training sessions can give you a safe starting point to have a routine that you can do at home or at the gym. We will prescribe you the right exercises, watch you do them, and make sure you are using the right amount of weight. Doing too little won’t help, and doing too much will hurt. We will find the sweet spot for you to make positive changes. When back pain does strike, physical therapy sessions are a highly effective and non-invasive treatment option. Here’s how it can help:
1. Customized Treatment Plans: An expert physical therapist will perform a full evaluation to get to the root cause of your issue. For most people, back pain is triggered due to an issue somewhere else in the body. For some is pelvic floor overactivity, for some is abdominal muscles weakness, and for some it’s stiffness in the hips causing strain on the low back. We will find the root cause of your issue and create a tailored plan that addresses your specific needs and concerns.
2. Pain Relief: Through various techniques, physical therapy can alleviate pain and discomfort. We provide trigger point dry needling which is a very effective treatment to address trigger points and tension in painful muscles. The results are similar to what you would expect after a massage but much more effective and long lasting. We also use therapeutic massage to help release tension in tight and painful muscles to improve your mobility and help accelerate healing.
3. Strength and Flexibility: Targeted exercises can strengthen your core and back muscles, improving your overall condition. We make sure we incorporate strength exercises specific to your weakness to build capacity in those areas so you don’t risk injury in the future.
4. Posture Correction: Physical therapists can help you understand and correct poor posture habits so you can avoid creating tension in the first place.
5. Education: You’ll learn how to prevent future injuries and manage your back health independently.
Choosing the Right Physical Therapist:
When seeking physical therapy for back pain, you’ll want to find a trusted, experienced professional who has worked with active women aged 40+ who want to get back to a specific activity. Consider the following when making your choice:
1. Credentials & Expertise: Ensure the therapist is licensed and experienced in working with middle-aged active adults. If you’re dealing with pelvic floor issues, make sure your therapist is experienced and has advanced certification in working with women with pelvic floor involvement.
2. Reputation: Look for reviews and testimonials from previous patients who were dealing with a similar issue as you. These can go a long way in helping you decide who you should work with.
3. Communication: Your therapist should listen to your concerns and be open to questions. Make sure you have their undivided attention so they can truly get to the root of your issue and create a very customized plan to get you back to your specific goals, rather than taking a cookie cutter approach. A customized plan for a 45 year old female with back pain should look very different than a plan for a 20 year old female. Also, make sure you have access to your physical therapist by text, phone, or email so you can ask questions and clarify any confusion when you are not with them.
4. Customized Care: They should have the time to listen to your needs and goals without being distracted by other patients they are tending to. This will give them the time to focus on you so they can tailor the treatment to your unique needs. Every person’s situation is unique with regards to how much time they have, what resources they have, their access to exercise equipment, as well as what their specific goals are. If you want to get back to running, playing golf, paddle tennis, or anything else, make sure you find a therapist who has worked with those clients and can get you there.
Back pain doesn’t have to be a constant companion in your life. By understanding the causes, taking preventative measures, and considering physical therapy or learning the right things to do to strength train, you can regain control over your back health and overall well-being. Our expert physical therapist’s are committed to providing personalized and effective care to help women in their 40s and 50s lead a pain-free and active life. Don’t let back pain hold you back any longer; take the first step towards a healthier, pain-free future today. Click here to book a call with one of our awesome team members to learn how we can help: https://bodymoksha.com/phone-inquire-chatham
If you’d like to talk to a back pain specialist at Body Moksha Physical Therapy to find out if physical therapy is right for you, email us at [email protected] or call/text us at 973-310-2678.
Just for this month, we are offering free back pain consultations.
This is for you only if:
- You’ve been having back pain either on and off or persistently for months and it hasn’t improved.
- You’ve tried other treatments like chiropractic or massage but still struggling.
- Your back pain holds you back from taking care of your family or doing the activities you enjoy.
Our back pain specialists block out their schedule for 30 minutes to meet with you to help you find out:
- Why are you in pain.
- How long you will be in pain.
- What other drug free treatment options are available.
- What you can do at home to speed up your recovery.
- What we can do to help speed up your recovery.
Click here to inquire: https://bodymoksha.com/consult-visit-chatham
Author: Dr. Tejal Ramaiya, PT, DPT, CSCS, CMTPT-DN, TPI-MP2
Owner & Doctor of Physical Therapy at Body Moksha Physical Therapy