Back pain affects millions of people. Sometimes this is due to injury, but it can also be because of lifestyle issues that lead to tight muscles and strained joints. But there are several things you can do to offer relief for your back pain.
Strengthen Your Core
Unlike other parts of your body, your back relies on the muscles on both sides for every movement. That means the muscle strength you have in your abdomen is just as important as the muscles on your backside.
By strengthening your core muscles – which are often very weak – you can take a lot of the pressure off of your back and relieve pain and tension. Strengthening your core means strengthening the muscles of the belly.
There are many exercises that can help you to gain core strength. One of the most effective types of exercise is Pilates. Pilates can be done on the floor or on machines. In fact, there is even a type of Pilates, called Polestar Pilates, especially made for people recovering from back injuries or surgery.
You may have heard of CrossFit training in recent news. This is a new trend in exercise that helps you to develop overall fitness in many different areas. But one of its key concepts is building core strength.
You may be afraid that CrossFit is too intense if you have back problems, but you can modify the program by using lower weights as you build strength. As long as your doctor approves the program, you’re good to go.
There are also traditional exercises such as sit ups and crunches that build core strength. A full sit up isn’t recommended if you have a bad back, but crunches can be very good.
Just make sure that you’re performing exercises properly. You can often get good instruction from exercise videos and you might also consider joining a class to help you learn proper technique.
Strengthening your core will help you to have more strength in all areas of your body – your back and your limbs all depend on a stable core to do their work. You’ll also enjoy better balance and coordination.
Finally, when you develop core strength you’ll also find that your torso feels longer and leaner. You’ll enjoy both the way you feel and the way you look as you focus on this area of the body.
Move Your Body
At one time people were told to get a lot of bed rest when they had backaches. But we now know that can actually make things worse. It’s best not to stay too still or you’ll risk having even stiffer muscles.
You don’t want to overexert yourself, but walking can be a great exercise to help you keep moving. And walking also helps you to have good posture – better than you might have when you’re seated.
While light exercise is good, performing exercises that might strain your back are a bad idea. For example, you shouldn’t lift heavy objects or do a lot of activities that require bending.
You should also avoid any movement that is similar to what has caused you to become injured or sore in the first place. This could cause your pain to get worse instead of better.
Focus on Flexibility
In addition to core strength, it’s also important to have flexibility. This allows your muscles to stretch without becoming overextended. There are several ways you can improve your flexibility.
First, never stretch on cold muscles. Your muscles need to move and warm up so they can become more pliable. A few minutes of walking can help you get warmed up enough for stretching.
Yoga is an excellent practice for stretching the muscles all over the body, especially the back. However, you want to make sure not to overdo it when you’re practicing this art.
There are yoga blocks and straps that can help you to participate even if you’re not flexible enough to complete the entire motion. You can also use folded towels for support.
Beyond yoga, you can participate in stretching and relaxation classes that are designed to help you gain flexibility, but aren’t as intense as yoga. If you’re not interested in joining a physical class, you can find instructional DVDs or even streaming video to help you get started.
Tai Chi is also a practice that can help you to gain flexibility. This is a martial art that helps you to gain peace, coordination, flexibility, and balance. You’ll enjoy the mind and body approach of this art.
Get a Good Night’s Sleep
Sleep is often difficult when you have back pain. And if you have a bad bed, sleep can actually make back pain worse. If you wake up in the morning with a stiff back, chances are your bed is in need of help.
Ultimately, it would be best to purchase a new mattress. People who have back pain often enjoy using a memory foam mattress or one that can be adjusted using air.
But if that’s not in your budget, you can also try adding a memory foam topper to your existing mattress. This can help you to get more cushioning and to keep your spine aligned better.
You may also want to try sleeping on your side with a pillow between your legs. This helps you to have better spinal alignment while you sleep. If you sleep on your back, pillows can be supportive under your knees instead of between them.
And you should avoid sleeping on your stomach if you have back pain. This position causes your spine to twist and can cause neck and back pain. You’re better off trying to get used to a better position.
You should also take a look at your pillow. Many people sleep on pillows that are unsupportive and past their prime. Some of the most supportive pillows on the market are made of memory foam.
You can even have the added benefit of cool-touch technology that helps your pillow to stay cool while you sleep. If your pillow is old and flat, you should start shopping for a new one. This simple switch can help ease pain in a big way.
Practice Meditation and Relaxation
Back pain can often be caused by tension related to stress. And while it isn’t always possible to eliminate stress, you can learn to deal with it in ways that help you to feel better.
Meditation is one way you can practice relaxation. If you’re not sure how to get started with meditation, you may want to consider purchasing guided meditation tracks.
These contain relaxing music and prompts to help you quiet your mind and let go of tension. Even just listening to relaxing music can help you to slow down and let your muscles rest.
If you don’t have time to spend meditation or you just don’t feel comfortable doing it, you can also try deep breathing. Even a minute or two of deep breathing can help you feel better.
Not only can it actually allow your muscles to relax, it can help you to manage the pain you do have. The connection between the mind and the body is so powerful that if you quiet the mind, you can also quiet physical pain.
Pay Attention to Posture
Many people experience back pain because they don’t practice proper posture. When your spine is not aligned the right way, it can cause tension in the muscles and even muscle spasms.
You’ve heard that you should keep your head up and shoulders back – this helps you to practice good posture. Also make sure that if you spend a lot of time in a chair at your desk that it supports you properly.
That might mean adding a lumbar support or a footrest so that you’re not causing undue stress on your spinal column. Bad posture can be a bad habit that takes time to correct.
You may need to work on it for several weeks before you naturally sit and stand with good posture. Strengthening your core muscles will help you to achieve good posture as well.
When you injure your back, adding ice may be good for the first couple of days. But long-term, most people prefer adding heat. There are a few ways you can do this.
First, you can use an electric heating pad. These can be beneficial, but they can also cause burns to your skin if it isn’t protected properly. You may also consider using a hot water bottle to provide heat to affected areas.
A hot bath can give you a chance to soak and get relief from back pain. This is also beneficial because it provides moist heat as opposed to dry heat. If you have a bathtub, this is a great option.
You can also purchase portable heat packs. These are disposable and are designed to stay hot for several hours at a time. They have adhesive strips that stick to your clothing or bands to keep them in place.
These portable heating pads are thin and can’t be seen through your clothing. They can provide major relief when you’re on the go or at work and not able to use a traditional heating pad.
Chronic back pain can cause you to miss days from work and can be debilitating. It’s important that you seek help from a professional to get some relief if you have serious back pain.
There are several choices. First, you can see your primary doctor. You may also want to look for a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) to treat your back. These doctors are trained in manipulation and can work to relieve your back pain.
You can also seek help from an orthopedist. This is a doctor that specializes in joints and bones and can treat injuries. Orthopedic surgeons may be consulted if you have a serious injury such as a herniated disc.
Traditional doctors may use medication, surgery, and manipulation to help you get rid of back pain. But you may also want to look for healthcare professionals outside of Western medicine.
Chiropractors are also medical professionals trained to treat the joints of the body. They’re trained to manipulate your body to provide pain relief and proper spinal alignment.
In addition, you may want to seek help from people who practice complementary and alternative medicine. For example, acupuncture has often been shown to help with relaxation and pain. This is a pleasant experience that can bring relief.
You may also want to consider getting help from a massage therapist that specializes in working with back pain and other joint pain. Regular massage can relieve muscle tension and keep you from experiencing back pain.
Homeopathic doctors can also prescribe herbal therapies and creams to help loosen stiff muscles and alleviate back pain. You may also consider reflexology to help treat back pain and achieve relaxation.
A physical therapist can also help you to learn the proper way to move your body so that you get pain relief and prevent injuring your body. He or she can also help you to learn specific exercises that will help with your individual condition.
Back pain can be debilitating, but it doesn’t have to be that way if you work with professionals and make some lifestyle changes. Many problems with back pain can be treated and even eliminated.