And how you might fix your lower back pain, too!
Have you tried the McKenzie Method? It worked well for me in treating a deadlifting injury
The book is cheap and short, the exercises are simple, and it should only take at most a couple sessions to figure out whether the pain is "centralizing" (explained in the book), which indicates whether or not the exercises are appropriate for your problem.
Back pain can be all kinds of different things, but for me, mine feels similar to what you describe. My solution was weightlifting, specifically (but not limited to) deadlifts/squats, utilizing and balancing the muscles that you believe are weak/unbalanced. (Also, since sitting is/was painful, a standing desk) I know you said "I don't want to have to do something forever" but since weightlifting exercise seems to be so beneficial to many things beyond back pain, doing it "forever" is probably a good idea regardless of whether or not you have back pain.
Back pain can be really difficult. I've personally found PEMF therapy: https://mattcook.substack.com/p/what-pemf-can-do-for-pain
to be extremely effective for back pain. It also has the benefit of being extremely low risk.
Fortunately, after 30 years of experimenting with my own back-pain it's now a solved problem for me: I no longer have any back-pain since a couple of years now.
The solution was trivial in retrospect: do the *right* exercises for about 15 minutes, 3x per week. These 45 minutes are well spent since they also count towards "physical activity" that we need anyways to keep our health. So why not spent this time for benefitting your back as well?
The sedentary human is the reason we need those exercises. If we'd still climb trees, hunt and gather etc. instead of sitting in front of the screen, we wouldn't need them.
Be warned: Doing random stretching routines will likely not be sufficient in many cases, as those would barely touch the root-causes and thus you need to do them for longer periods and often daily to prevent recurring pain.
Also it may be short-sighted to only treat back-pain related body-areas, 'cos knees, shoulders or your neck or even your hip suffer as well in today's civilized lifestyle.
So it comes down to the following formula: Your body adapts itself to our immobile lifestyle, reducing musle tissues which long-term causes pain on weared out joints.
To counter this, you need to give your body incentives to restore those muscle's strength+flexibility by doing the right exercises.
The more precise those exercises target the correct muscles + using the right amount of force during the exercises, the less time you need to spend doing them.
Ten minutes a day is enough if you know exactly what you're doing.
Let me know if you need more info and good luck!
I'm 33 and my lumbar pain went from occasionally annoying to constant and moderately severe over the last 6 months. I saw a PT in person and he was as unhelpful as you described.
- I've been working through this channel, because Dr Starrett usually does a before/after mobility test, so you can feel for yourself any improvements. https://www.youtube.com/c/TheReadyState/search?query=lumbar Rediscovered this recently, so no results yet.
- I'm also planning to get a X-ray of my lumbar spine from the side, so I can compare my spine to a healthy spine (sacral base angle, angle between L1 and L5, and posterior shift), and measure improvements over the months/years.
> "I turned 29 a few months ago, which means I have lower back pain. I’m not sure why it means that, but I think literally every man reading this will wince in agreement."
Literally true (spoken as someone who just turned 30 about a month ago).
Always validating to hear someone with a similar experience. I'm also in the same boat, e.g., I'm trying to be better about stretching. I have a referral for PT but am kind of on the fence given the cost. The other thing is just being more mindful about not pushing my body too intensely.