Why? The origins of back pain.
There are a variety of potential causes for back pain. Nearly every single human will experience back pain at some point in their life. Luckily, it is not typically caused by some terrible underlying problem such as infection, tumor or major structural damage. However, it's always important to first get an appropriate diagnosis before deciding how to solve the problem. Dr. Mike Evans explains in this video . . .
Chronic Pain is a Disease Itself
Some people with back pain can develop an ongoing, daily pain that becomes "chronic". With chronic pain, our nervous system (the brain) goes haywire and gets fixated on pain despite the "painful" tissues being healed and back to normal. This is a similar process to "phantom limb syndrome". A great video from Australia explains the problem of chronic pain fantastically . . . .
Getting Back on Track
Unfortunately, there is no easy or quick fix to the issue of chronic back pain. Far too many people rely on medications to provide temporary relief without addressing the underlying problem -- and in the process, often make pain worse in the long run. Outlining a long-term plan is the first step to recovery. Many things contribute to chronic or recurring back pain, but these are the primary issues that need to be addressed. . .
Stress & Mental State
Sitting too much
We, as humans, are designed to walk and stand most of the day. Unfortunately, our modern lifestyles have us sitting in chairs nearly round the clock from a young age. Over time this leads to a weakening of the core muscles and poor posture -- and more tension in back muscles.
The most important thing to realize is the being physically active, within reasonable limits, does NOT further "damage" your back. In fact, being a cough potato, greatly increases the chance of the pain worsening. Certain activities may be aggravating to the pain at first, but regular moderate activity (to the level of sweating!) can take many forms -- swimming, stationary equipment, walking, etc. Swimming or water aerobics are probably the best place to start if you are really out of shape. You should stop if the activity is causing severe pain, but a small amount of discomfort and soreness is okay.
Aim for 20-30 minutes of moderately heavy activity at least 4 days per week.
Weak or Imbalanced Core
Lots of options for improving core strength and flexibility.
Physical therapy exercise videos from Excel Physical Therapy are fantastic.
Pick 5 exercises to do each day from Core, Posture and Back sections. They show most exercises as repetitions, but "static" poses (holding in the active position) is also a good choice. You should build up to doing 20-30 repetitions (or holding pose for 30-60 seconds) of each exercise for 2-3 sets -- with very little rest in between exercises. The total work-out should take no more than 20 minutes.
Things NOT to do! Crunches or excessive amount of "traditional" set ups, sit up "machines" or assistance devices.