10 Tips for Back Pain Relief
Back pain is one of the most common health issues everyone will deal with at least once in their life. Unfortunately, many of us become culprit to back pain more often than not. According to the National Institutes of Health, lower back pain is the number one cause of job-related disability.
There are many possible causes of back pain like strains, herniated discs, injury, etc. It’s also possible that certain individuals are more prone to having back pain due to a genetic component (particularly those with structural deformations such as spine curvature or ankylosing spondylitis). However, some of the more common reasons why so many people experience back pain are due to sitting too much (especially for those who have desk jobs), poor posture, and weak supporting muscles.
In desperation for relief, many people resort to over-the-counter pain killers (that can have damaging side effects with long-term use), visiting various specialists and purchasing ergonomically designed chairs/supports that usually cost a pretty penny. These are successful for some people, but not everyone has the time and/or money to go to these extents.
If you’re experiencing back pain, don’t let it get you down…you can feel better! Here are some less-costly tips that you can try to see if you can find some relief on your own:
- Improve Your Posture
Don’t let yourself slouch or slump. Maintaining good posture—standing and sitting up straight reduces the pressure on your nerves and can help relieve the pain. A good strategy to practice while you’re going through each day is to try to keep your abdominal muscles contracted and tight (this should automatically cause you to sit or stand up straight).
- Keep Moving!
When people have sore backs, they tend to avoid activity—this just makes it even worse! Find activities that don’t aggravate the pain such as low impact activities like biking, water aerobics, etc.
One of the causes of back pain is being overweight. Exercise can help maintain a healthy weight, as well as strength and flexibility.
It’s not just stretching your back that’s important. Many times, a sore back is linked to other muscles that are tight such as your hamstrings or hip flexors. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends that adults should do flexibility exercises at least two or three days a week.
Each stretch should be held for 10–30 seconds, to the point of tightness or slight discomfort, but not to the point of pain. Stretching can reduce back stiffness and discomfort!
- Strengthen Your Core
Your abdominal muscles and obliques are the muscles that stabilize your core. When they are weak, it causes poor posture, which results in back pain.
Strengthening these muscles can help improve your posture and decrease pressure on your back. There are many core-strengthening exercises in addition to the traditional sit-up such as planks and bridges.
- Wear Comfortable Shoes
Wrong footwear will put pressure on the spine, causing back pain. Besides avoiding certain types of shoes, like high heels and flip flops, consider proactively purchasing special shoes that can help prevent or ease your back pain. Otherwise, running shoes will be a good start.
- Sleep on Firm Mattress
Sleep on your side on firm mattress to reduce the curve of your spine. Besides that, different sleeping positions put added pressure on the back. To help lessen this effect, sleep with an extra pillow. If you sleep on your back, put a pillow under your knees, if you sleep on your side put a pillow between your knees. Try to limit sleeping on your stomach.
- Practice Self-Massage
While it’s nice to have a professional massage every now and then, they can get to be expensive. There are ways you can achieve similar benefits in the comfort of your own home.
In addition to using your hands, you can use a tennis ball, frozen water bottle, foam roller, or baseball bat wrapped in towels by rolling them along your back against the floor or back of a chair…or have a family member do it for you.
Cold and heat therapy can also be beneficial, so try alternating with hot and cold packs while you’re watching TV or reading!
- Avoid Long Sitting
Sitting, in general, is a static posture that increases stress in the back, shoulders, arms, and legs, and in particular, can add large amounts of pressure to the back muscles and spinal discs. Have yourself a good stretch or a walk every 30 minutes of sitting.
- Get Pain Relief from Special Gel or Cream
Rub affected areas with gel or cream that contains bioactive ingredients that can improve blood flow, reduce inflammation and relieve muscle pain.
- Supplement Your Diet
In addition to eating a balanced diet rich in vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains, you may benefit from inflammation-modulating supplements such as curcumin, black tea, white willow bark, fish oil, and bromelain.
Inflammation is the underlying cause of all health issues, so keeping it in check is key to managing them, especially back pain!