Back pain is very common in our society. People almost always experience back pain at some point in their lives. Many people end up with chronic back pain that keeps them from enjoying many activities and makes life in general much more uncomfortable. Here are some quick tips to soothing your back pain easily and quickly.
Things You May Need:
If you are experiencing back pain as the result of an injury, you will need to check with your doctor to see if it serious. If this is a minor injury involving the muscles and not the spinal cord and nerves, take an OTC pain reliever- ibuprofen is especially good- to reduce inflammation and apply ice packs for no more than 15 to 30 minutes at a time. Ibuprofen is also good for more serious injuries involving the spinal cord and the nerves, but you definitely want to have a doctor checking you out when that sort of injury is involved- DO NOT just self-treat.
Once the initial inflammation has been reduced, you will need to apply heat to your back. Keep taking ibuprofen as directed- 200-800 mg, depending on your doctor’s recommendation or advice. Heating wraps or pads just melt away the pain. Hot baths are also great for loosening up the muscle fibers in the back.
Stretching is a very important part of exercise that everyone should do, especially people with back pain. Make sure that you are warming-up first (for at least 5-10 mins.) Do not stretch “cold” muscles. When you take gym class in college, they tell you to imagine the muscles like “taffy”- when it is warm, it can be stretched, when it is cold, it will break if stretched. This is why warming up is very important before exercising or stretching. Go on a walk, do a workout, do some light yoga, or whatever and then do some deep back stretches.
Make sure you are strengthening your whole body!! Do strength-training for the surrounding muscles- especially your core. Your core must be strong to support your spine and hold your body upright, in proper posture. Doing Pilates and yoga are great ways to get core strength and become more body-aware so that you will be more likely to sit, stand and walk in proper alignment for good back-health. See the resources at the bottom of this article page.
There have been studies that show that supplementation of Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, Magnesium, and Selenium can improve back mobility. If you aren’t already, take a multivitamin and check the label to be sure you are getting at least 100% of your RDA for each vitamin.
Keep moving!!! One of the most common reactions to back pain is also one of the worst things you can do: immobility. Go on a walk every day for 20-50 minutes. Make sure you are walking with good posture and keep your core “engaged” (tighten the core muscles).
Get your back massaged. If you think this is too expensive, remember that you can’t put a price on your health- ever. You can also go to a massage school and get a rub-down for much less than going to a spa. Another option is to have a close friend or partner massage your tight muscles.
Always be sure that you maintain proper alignment and posture. Imagine your shoulders, down and back, and in-line with your hips; your abs are up and in, and if you are standing , tuck your tailbone down a little, and keep your knees in-line you’re your hips. Check your posture every hour, no matter what you are doing. If you have a desk job, be sure to get up and walk around, doing light strengthening and stretching moves frequently. Anything that can be done while you are moving is better than sitting or slouching in an office chair. Consider using an exercise ball to sit on rather than a chair- this forces you to keep your posture in-check. If you can’t use an exercise ball, try getting a little pillow to support the small of your back.
Tips & Warnings
• Vary your workouts so your muscles don’t get used to what you are doing.
• Incorporate pilates and yoga into your exercise repertoire.
• Buy those heat pads that you can stick on while you are at work- they are quite thin and can’t be seen through clothing. This will help keep your back muscles nice and loose.
• Clear any exercise with your doctor
• Seek medical attention if your pain is severe, sharp or you experience any numbness.