- 7 Ways to Relieve Back Pain Naturally
- 1. Enjoy an anti-inflammatory drink every day
- 2. Fall asleep faster and sleep longer
- 3. Avoid prolonged static posture
- 4. Gently stretch your joints and soft tissues through yoga
- 5. Try mindful meditation
- 6. Support your body in a warm pool
- 7. Keep a self-activating heat patch handy
- Bonus tip: Consider taking a vitamin D3 supplement
- Learn more:
- 8 Tips for Back Pain Relief
- How to get rid of back pain
- Causes of back pain
- Here are some bad habits that can exacerbate your back pain:
- Remedies for back pain
- Taking care of your back at home
- Cheshire Medical Center/Dartmouth-Hitchcock Keene
- Fixing Lower Back Pain: 6 Tips
- 1. Get hot and cold
- 2. Consider acupuncture
- 3. Rethink your workspace
- 4. Eat for bone health
- 5. Sleep smarter
- 6. Try yoga
7 Ways to Relieve Back Pain Naturally
7 Ways to Relieve Back Pain Naturally
There are a wide variety of natural remedies to soothe your back, which can help reduce the intake of medications or provide an added benefit to your existing medical treatment.
Take a look at these natural pain-relieving strategies and find out what works best for you:
Read on to learn more about effective pain-relieving strategies for chronic back pain from natural methods.
1. Enjoy an anti-inflammatory drink every day
When you consume anti-inflammatory foods regularly, several antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and even anti-cancer agents can build up in your blood. Over a period of time, these potent agents can play a significant role in reducing and/or eliminating inflammatory reactions in the body.
Consuming these healthy drinks on a regular basis may help reduce your back pain.
Turmeric, an Asian spice, contains antioxidant, anti-arthritic, and anti-inflammatory properties.1,2
An easy method to consume turmeric is to mix a small quantity (1/2 teaspoon) of turmeric powder in a glass of warm milk. You can add honey or stevia to the milk if you prefer a sweet taste. Consume this drink, preferably just before bedtime to allow the anti-inflammatory process to work while you sleep.
Consuming dairy products may increase inflammation in some people. In such cases, trying plant-based milk, such as almond milk can be helpful.
Tart cherry juice
Cherries are rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents.3,4 Cherry juice can help relieve muscle pain, which may be chronic or exercise-induced.4 Cherry juice is easily available to buy at grocery stores and commonly contains the tart cherry extract. Try drinking a glass of cherry juice on a daily basis and see if it has positive effects in relieving your back pain.
You can also try infused-herbal drinks, such as ginger-green tea, which contains the pain-relieving benefits of both green tea5 and ginger.6 Ginger-green tea bags can be purchased from grocery stores and you can easily enjoy a cup either at work or at home.
Over a period of time, these anti-inflammatory agents can build up in your bloodstream, so including these drinks in your daily diet will help reduce overall inflammation and prevent new inflammatory pain.
See Food for Thought: Diet and Nutrition for a Healthy Back
2. Fall asleep faster and sleep longer
When you have a restful night’s sleep, your back will feel less sore during the day.7 A night of restorative sleep can have healing benefits and make you feel refreshed, rejuvenated, and less stressed.
Watch Video: 11 Unconventional Sleep Tips: How to Get to Sleep and Stay Asleep
Try these natural sleep aids, one at a time, to see which one works best for you:
- Vitamins C and B6. The natural steroids in your body control your metabolism and promote good sleep.8,9 Supplements of vitamins C10 and B611 are known to help the body produce and regulate natural steroid hormones.
- Melatonin. Your natural sleep hormone, melatonin can be taken as a supplement to improve your sleep cycle.
- L-theanine. An amino acid found in tea leaves, L-theanine may help some people feel relaxed and get better sleep.
- Valerian. Supplements made from the root of the valerian plant may help you sleep faster and stay asleep longer.
Another option is cherry juice or cherry extracts—cherries contain certain enzymes that help promote better sleep.4
See Natural Remedies and Herbal Supplements as Sleep Aids
3. Avoid prolonged static posture
It is important to pay attention to the joints and muscles of your spine and hip. Prevent fatigue and stresses on these joints by following simple tips, such as:
- Avoid excessive sitting or consider using a standing desk while you work. When you sit for a long duration, the pressure on your spinal discs increase. Aim to get up every hour and walk a short distance to take the load off your discs.
See Choosing the Right Ergonomic Office Chair
- Check your posture and adjust your neck, shoulder, and back alignment to prevent stresses on your spine. Poor, unsupported posture can lead to several problems in your back, causing or increasing the pain.
See Identifying Incorrect Posture
- Rotate activities in order to avoid the same set of muscles and joints from getting over-fatigued. For example, if you have been standing and working for some time, consider changing to a different activity where you can sit down. You can go back to standing once the muscles and joints have had a chance to relax.
See Ten Tips for Improving Posture and Ergonomics
When you have a flare-up of symptoms, consider less exertive activities, such as reading a book, listening to music, or crafting. These activities can help divert your mind from the pain and let your back rest at the same time.
4. Gently stretch your joints and soft tissues through yoga
Yoga is an effective way to stretch your back, improve the health of muscles and joints, enhance distribution of healing nutrients through blood circulation, and increase the flexibility of the spine.12
See Healing Benefits of Yoga
When you start, perform the stretches slowly and advance only if you feel comfortable without pain. Gradually, you will be able to add more stretches to your routine. An ideal time for yoga is early morning—to help loosen your spine and also reduce stiffness and aches in your back.
See 3 Beginner Yoga Poses for Lower Back Pain Relief
5. Try mindful meditation
Meditation is a great way to improve concentration, release feel-good hormones (endorphins), and decrease anxiety and stress. Through mindful meditation, you can control the way your body perceives pain.13
Find a quiet, dark room and meditate for 5 to 10 minutes in the morning. You can also try meditating before bedtime or while you take a break at work. If you don’t like to meditate, try simple breathing exercises—take 10 deep, slow breaths in a row.
See How to Stop Your Pain with Your Mind
6. Support your body in a warm pool
The buoyancy of the water lets you enjoy the benefits of exercise with less pain. Exercising in water also helps regulate the functioning of nerves and muscles, relieving pain.14
If you prefer warmer pools, look into water exercise classes and hydrotherapy pools. Water therapy exercises are often done in water that is about 83 degrees to 88 degrees. Hydrotherapy pool temperatures are often more than 90 degrees.
See Water Therapy Exercise Program
7. Keep a self-activating heat patch handy
Heat patches that activate when in contact with the body are a great tool to carry during long drives or keep in your office desk/bedside table drawer. These heat patches activate quickly, can be worn inside your clothing, and provide a continuous supply of heat to relieve your back pain. Follow the package instructions and avoid wearing the patch for long durations to prevent skin damage. Some heat patches are also infused with medications for more effective pain relief.
See Benefits of Heat Therapy for Lower Back Pain
Bonus tip: Consider taking a vitamin D3 supplement
If your doctor agrees, consider taking a vitamin D3 supplement. Vitamin D is essential for bone, neuromuscular, and immune system function. Taking a vitamin D3 supplement can help reduce back pain by increasing the absorption of calcium in your body and improving bone strength.15
See Calcium and Vitamin D Requirements
Finding the perfect pain relief technique is usually a process of trial and error, making it worth exploring various approaches. Try these natural pain-relieving strategies for your back pain and see what works best for you. Severe pain that is not relieved by self-care must be evaluated by a health professional for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.
Video: 4 Little-Known Natural Pain Relievers
14 Natural Pain Relievers
8 Tips for Back Pain Relief
Sometimes all it takes is bending over to pick up a pen from the floor for back pain to strike. Fortunately, most of the time back pain is short term and goes away on its own. But if you experience chronic back pain, you may benefit from making certain everyday adjustments.
In fact, lifestyle has the biggest influence on back pain, and healthy habits such as a good diet, exercising, stretching, and posture can give you back pain relief or help you prevent future problems.
Make these steps part of your back pain treatment plan:
- Maintain a healthy weight. Staying fit is one of the most important recommendations for avoiding back pain, says Santiago Figuereo, MD, neurological surgeon and founder and medical director of the Miami Neurological Institute. Extra pounds stress your back and can cause pain. Eating a healthy diet filled with fruits and vegetables and low on processed foods can keep your weight in a healthy range and your back healthy.
- Keep your back muscles strong. The most common back problems happen because people who aren’t in shape start doing heavy lifting or hard work and stress their back, Dr. Figuereo says. Back pain usually happens when there’s degeneration of the spine because the spine is working too hard. But when you build up enough muscle strength in your back with exercise, the muscles give your spine the support it needs to keep it healthy. That’s why physical therapy is standard back pain treatment, but being in shape can help you avoid back pain to begin with.
- Stretch your muscles. In addition to exercise, stretching is important for staying flexible and avoiding back problems. It’s also a key part of recovering from a back injury. Stretch before doing heavy lifting or exercise and make a habit of doing it before bed. Stretches can be as simple as bending forward, bending back, and bending side to side, says Neil Kirschen, MD, chief of pain management in the department of anesthesiology at South Nassau Communities Hospital in Oceanside, N.Y. The ultimate stretching exercise: yoga.
- Focus on good posture. Poor posture is another major contributor of back pain. Standing up straight with your ears over your shoulders, your shoulders over your hip joints, and your hip joints over your ankles will help keep your healthy pain-free. When you’re sitting, getting a chair that’s designed to keep your back straight will help.
- Lift properly. When you do pick up a heavy object, bend at the knees and keep the item close to your body. Also, take care not to twist your body when you lift, and wear a brace if you have a job that requires heavy lifting.
- Leave your purse at home. If you can, stash a few dollars and your identification in your pocket when you leave the house rather than carrying around a heavy purse. Carrying a bag changes your balance and can change the curve of your spine, Dr. Kirschen says. Even a wallet packed full of cards and receipts in your back pocket can affect your back because it puts pressure on your sciatic nerve, he says.
- Practice stress relief for back pain relief. Stress tends to make back pain worse. That may be another good reason to practice yoga. Other ways to reduce stress include treating yourself well, avoiding over-scheduling your days, and taking time to enjoy life.
- Sleep well. Soft mattresses push your back out of alignment, so it’s best to choose a mattress that’s in the range of medium to firm for back pain relief, Figuereo says.
Living a healthy lifestyle that’s full of exercise and taking some care to have a healthy back can help you live free of chronic back pain.
How to get rid of back pain
Your doctor will probably take an X-ray to check for spinal problems, tumors and fractures. She might also recommend a CT scan that will give more details about the bones in your spine, or an MRI to make an accurate diagnosis about the condition of your disks and nerve roots, spinal infections and tumors.
Causes of back pain
Back ache can be caused by a number of reasons. While your back pain could be caused by a serious medical condition, the most common causes include lifting heavy things, bad sitting and standing posture, a lumpy mattress that offers poor back support, a strenuous workout at the gym and, guess what, even smoking ! Women have it worse as they are more prone to back ache than men with the chances increasing with pregnancy. With many of us tied to our desk jobs that force us to sit in chairs all day that provide poor lumbar support, work-related back pain is a very common phenomenon nowadays.
Here are some bad habits that can exacerbate your back pain:
Not enough exercise: You will be prone to back ache if your abdominal muscles are weak. A strong core is essential for a good posture and thereby back health . Exercises that will strengthen your core and improve you balance include Pilates, Yoga and aerobic exercises like swimming, walking, and cycling. Even if you are already suffering from back pain, the worst thing that you can do is to become sedentary. This will worsen your condition because activity sends more blood flowing to the painful area thereby reducing inflammation and muscle strain .
Poor posture:Poor posture whether sitting or standing can strain your muscles and spine. Over time, this can even alter the shape of your spine leading to further back problems. Stand with knees a little bent and one foot in front of the other to reduce the strain on your lower back. And while sitting, ensure that your hips are a bit higher than your knees.
Improper lifting: A large number back injuries are caused by an improper lifting technique. When lifting heavy objects, always remember the golden rule that says you should bend your knees with your head down and back straight to avoid straining your back. Do not twist when lifting.
Obesity:When you are overweight, especially around the abdomen, your center of gravity shifts forward and puts more strain on your back. Extra weight can be particularly bad if you suffer from low back pain .
Smoking: Nicotine prevents enough blood from reaching the disks between your vertebrae and makes them more prone to wear and tear. This lack of cushioning can result in severe back pain. Smoking also reduces calcium absorption and makes smokers prone to osteoporosis which causes back pain. A persistent smoker’s cough can make back pain worse.
Nutritional deficiencies: If you are deficient in calcium and vitamin D , your bone strength will be compromised leading to back ache.
Remedies for back pain
Medication: There are a number of lines of treatment that your medical practitioner may want to take depending on the severity of your problem. He might prescribe pain medication like acetaminophen, NSAIDs, oral steroids, narcotic drugs, muscle relaxants, and anti-depressants after taking the strengths, risk factors and your particular problem into account. Sometimes, epidural injections of anti-inflammatory steroids are given for low back pain. Some people, in rare cases, may also have to undergo back surgery if they find it difficult to function with the severe pain.
Exercise: Back exercisesand sometimes, physiotherapy, is required to treat back pain symptoms. The best exercises for the back are a combination of strength training, stretching, and low-impact cardio. If you exercise at least two to three times a week you will reduce your risk of back pain by 45 per cent. Exercise strengthens muscles, reduces stress and fills you with feel-good endorphins. Pilates and yoga are considered to be very good for back pain. The stretching, strengthening, and abdominal exercises that are part of a Pilates routine can help you overcome back pain. In Yoga, the Padahastasana pose and Anuloma Viloma are particularly helpful.
Do make it to ask your doctor before you start off with any exercise regimen as some can actually worsen back pain. If you find that any exercise is causing pain for more than 15 minutes, discontinue it immediately. For instance, standing toes touches strain your disks ligaments, lower back muscles and hamstrings. Similarly avoid sit-ups that put a lot of pressure on your spine; and leg lifts that can make your pain worse if your core is weak. Try exercises like partial crunches that strengthen your back and stomach muscles; hamstring stretches; wall sits, where you slide down a wall till your knees are bent and your lower back pressed against the wall. Bird dog stretches, where your position yourself on your hands and knees, tighten your abs and extend one leg behind you, strengthens your lower back.
Strength training can be beneficial for chronic back pain but avoid it if you are suffering from sudden back pain as straining your back muscles and ligaments could make it worse. It’s best to ask your doctor which strength training exercises are safe for you.
Change your sitting posture: Working for long periods of time at the computer or hunched over a smartphone can ruin your back. Always make sure that your back is fully supported when you are sitting. Avoid sitting on the edge of your chair. If you don’t already have one, requisition your office for a chair that provides you with adequate lumbar support. If your don’t take remedial measures at time, bad sitting posture can lead to strained back and neck muscles and ligaments. Try this simple exercise: bend your head forward and back and to the sides thrice a day.
Hot and cold therapy:Applying a heating pad or a cold pack is known to relieve backpain symptoms. You could also try alternating between the two. If you find that your pain is particularly bad in the mornings, you can pace a heated pad under the affected area so that blod flow increases to the region and reduces muscles stiffness and pain.
Massages: Massages really help when it comes to alleviating back pain. It increases blood flow to your painful back muscles and the soothing rhythmic massage movements help relax the muscles, reduce stiffness and encourage your body to produce feel-good endorphins — natural pain killers that help lessen your agony. Just ensure that your massage therapist is trained so that she does not end up doing more harm than good. Lavender essential oil should be massaged onto the affected area at least thrice a day. It will help in relieving pain and muscle spasms. Other oils that are beneficial include peppermint oil, castor oil and olive oil.
Music and laughter: Laughter clubs can be really annoying for people who are not in them; However, if you have been plagued by back issues, you might just want to join one of them. Laughter makes you produce pain-relieving endorphins while relieving stress and relaxing you. Try some deep breathing as well for better results. This is helpful for those who find it difficult to do more strenuous exercises. Music, like laughter, also releases feel-good endorphins and research has shown that it can also dull your brain ability to process pain. According to study, listening to an hour of calming music every day for seven days leads to a 21% drop in chronic pain.
Change your sleep posture: Sleeping on a bad mattress that offers no lumbar support can give you a bad case of back pain. Invest in a medium firm mattress that cushions you while supporting your spine while you sleep. If your back ache prevents you on sleeping flat on your back, rent or buy and adjustable bed that you can manoeuvre into a position that s most comfortable for you.
If you prefer to sleep on your back, keep a pillow under your knees so that you spine gets some support. If you sleep on your side, draw up your kneed and place a pillow between your knees and if you sleep on your stomach, you should place a pillow under your abdomen and hips so that your back is not strained.
Change your lifestyle: It might sound like we are preaching but lifestyle changes make a lot of difference when it comes to reducing back pain or staving off back issues. For starters stop smoking; Begin exercising and lose weight
Start swimming: Swimming is a wonderful exercise where you can get the benefits of exercise without the pain. The aerobic exercise that swimming works your lungs and heart and helps you lose weight. For the pain, heated pools will give you much relief. Just make sure that you do not twist your body while swimming.
Eat healthy:Up your calcium intake and take supplements if necessary if you are lactose intolerant to stave off osteoporosis. Get tested for a vitamin D deficiency and start a regimen of supplements after consultation with your doctor if you are deficient in it. Vitamin B 12 can reduce many vitamins are found to be effective in relieving back pain and its symptoms. Vitamin B12, and the Vitamins C, D, and E are known for its anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. Make sure that your diet has plenty of these.
Ayurveda recommends fenugreek for its anti-inflammatory and pain relieving properties. Mis a teaspoon of fenugreek powder in a glass of hot milk with a little honey for flavor and drink it every night. Turmeric mixed with milk will give you the benefits of anti-inflammatory curcumin. You could also try drinking some hot water with ginger juice and basil with a and honey. Did you know that applying a paste of garlic on the affected area for 20 minutes relieves pain? The selenium and capsaicin really works wonders. Try chewing on two pods of garlic every morning as well.
Additionally, eat only warm food, because Ayurveda believes that ingesting cold things increases the vata dosha that leads to pain. Also avoid strong spices and chillies that can also lead to a vata imbalance. Stay away from inflammation increasing foods like sugar, refined carbohydrates, dairy products and red meat that can make your pain worse. Do include a lot of fruits and vegetables, fish, nuts, and yogurt in your meals.
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Taking care of your back at home
A common myth about back pain is that you need to rest and avoid activity for a long time. In fact, doctors DO NOT recommend bed rest. If you have no sign of a serious cause for your back pain (such as loss of bowel or bladder control, weakness, weight loss, or fever), stay as active as possible.
Here are tips for how to handle back pain and activity:
- Stop normal physical activity for only the first few days. This helps calm your symptoms and reduce swelling (inflammation) in the area of the pain.
- Apply heat or ice to the painful area. Use ice for the first 48 to 72 hours, then use heat.
- Take over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB) or acetaminophen (Tylenol).
- Sleep in a curled-up, fetal position with a pillow between your legs. If you usually sleep on your back, place a pillow or rolled towel under your knees to relieve pressure.
- DO NOT do activities that involve heavy lifting or twisting of your back for the first 6 weeks after the pain begins.
- DO NOT exercise in the days right after the pain begins. After 2 to 3 weeks, slowly begin to exercise again. A physical therapist can teach you which exercises are right for you.
EXERCISE TO PREVENT FUTURE BACK PAIN
Through exercise you can:
- Improve your posture
- Strengthen your back and abdomen, and improve flexibility
- Lose weight
- Avoid falls
A complete exercise program should include aerobic activity such as walking, swimming, or riding a stationary bicycle. It should also include stretching and strength training. Follow the instructions of your doctor or physical therapist.
Begin with light cardiovascular training. Walking, riding an upright stationary bicycle (not the recumbent kind), and swimming are great examples. These types of aerobic activities can help improve blood flow to your back and promote healing. They also strengthen muscles in your stomach and back.
Stretching and strengthening exercises are important in the long run. Keep in mind that starting these exercises too soon after an injury can make your pain worse. Strengthening your abdominal muscles can ease the stress on your back. A physical therapist can help you determine when to begin stretching and strengthening exercises and how to do them.
Avoid these exercises during recovery, unless your doctor or physical therapist says it is OK:
- Contact sports
- Racquet sports
- Weight lifting
- Leg lifts when lying on your stomach
TAKING MEASURES TO PREVENT FUTURE BACK PAIN
To prevent back pain, learn to lift and bend properly. Follow these tips:
- If an object is too heavy or awkward, get help.
- Spread your feet apart to give you a wide base of support.
- Stand as close as possible to the object you are lifting.
- Bend at your knees, not at your waist.
- Tighten your stomach muscles as you lift or lower the object.
- Hold the object as close to your body as you can.
- Lift using your leg muscles.
- As you stand up while holding the object, DO NOT bend forward. Try to keep your back straight.
- DO NOT twist while you are bending to reach for the object, lifting it up, or carrying it.
Other measures to prevent back pain include:
- Avoid standing for long periods. If you must stand for your work, place a stool by your feet. Alternate resting each foot on the stool.
- DO NOT wear high heels. Wear shoes that have cushioned soles when walking.
- When sitting, especially if using a computer, make sure that your chair has a straight back with an adjustable seat and back, armrests, and a swivel seat.
- Use a stool under your feet while sitting so that your knees are higher than your hips.
- Place a small pillow or rolled towel behind your lower back while sitting or driving for long periods.
- If you drive long-distance, stop and walk around every hour. DO NOT lift heavy objects just after a long ride.
- Quit smoking.
- Lose weight.
- Do exercises to strengthen your abdominal muscles. This will strengthen your core to decrease the risk of further injuries.
- Learn to relax. Try methods such as yoga, tai chi, or massage.
Cheshire Medical Center/Dartmouth-Hitchcock Keene
What can I do to relieve my back pain?
Not all back pain episodes require a doctor’s visit.
You can often manage your pain on your own and return to normal activities as soon as you’re ready. Try these suggestions:
- Keep moving. It’s natural to want to avoid using your back when it hurts. However, for most types of back pain, inactivity – especially bed rest – has been shown to do more harm than good. Bed rest can slow the healing process and make your muscles weaker, tighter, and more painful. Although you do want to avoid activities that make your pain worse, stay as active as possible.
- Find a comfortable position. When you do rest, you may have to experiment with positions to relieve your pain. One position that works well for many people with back pain is to lie on your back with your hips and knees bent, with pillows under your knees. Lying on your side with your knees bent and a pillow between them may also help.
- Try heat or ice. Ice can lessen your pain, while heat can loosen tight muscles. Apply ice or heat for 15 minutes at a time each hour. Some people find that alternating heat and ice treatments works best. For icing, try an ice pack or a bag of frozen peas. For heating, try a hot water bottle or a heating pad – or take a warm bath. A barrier, such as a towel, should be placed between the cold pack and the skin’s surface to prevent skin and nerve damage.
- Try simple pain medication. Pain medications may not eliminate your pain, but they should control it enough that you can be active. The simplest and safest pain relievers are also usually the most effective. These include the following over-the-counter medications: Acetaminophen (generic Tylenol) or Anti-inflammatories, such as ibuprofen (generic, Advil, Nuprin, or Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve). These medications not only help relieve your pain, but also help reduce inflammation. Please check with your healthcare provider before starting any new medications.
Fixing Lower Back Pain: 6 Tips
Whether you lift heavy items for your job or simply have a slipped disk from a pesky athletic injury, lower back pain is likely to plague you at some point in your life. Low back pain can result from an acute injury or from chronic overuse that leads to arthritis. This, in turn, can break down the fluid-filled disks in your spine that act as shock absorbers. Whatever the cause, there are some practices you can do to strengthen your back and keep lower back pain at bay.
1. Get hot and cold
You can use both ice and heat to your advantage when you experience lower back pain. However, order is important here. When faced with a new injury, first you ice it, then use heat.
If you’ve tweaked your lower back, apply ice during the first 24 to 48 hours. Here’s how you can use ice to your advantage:
- Place ice cubes or crushed ice in a plastic bag, or purchase a cool pack. Wrap what you’re using in a cloth to protect your skin from injury.
- Apply to your lower back for no more than 10 minutes at a time.
- Repeat as needed throughout the day. Give yourself at least 10-minute breaks between ice applications.
While heat may be tempting to apply after an injury, it can cause your body to release even more inflammatory compounds into your body. After one to two days and for chronic pain, you can begin to apply heat.
The same rules apply as a cold pack: Refrain from applying the heat source directly to your skin. Instead, wrap the heat pack or heating pad in a cloth first. While it can be tempting to sleep with a heating pad all night to relieve your back pain, avoid doing this. You can easily burn your skin if the protective cloth slips away.
2. Consider acupuncture
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, the ancient Chinese practice of acupuncture may be effective for treating moderate, chronic lower back pain. While this practice of inserting small, thin needles into the body to restore energy flow may seem daunting at first, acupuncture can stimulate the release of pain relieving chemicals in the body.
3. Rethink your workspace
If you work at a desk job all day, you might have some areas of your workstation to thank for your back pain. Evaluating your space to make it more ergonomic (back-friendly), can help you experience lower back pain relief and prevent pain from getting worse. Rethinking your workspace for back relief starts with positioning your most important work tools.
- Key objects. If frequently used objects are too far out of arm’s reach, it can result in repeated twisting that can strain your lower back. To avoid this, keep things you use the most within easy reach. This could include your phone, stapler, pens, notepads, or anything else that gets regular use. If something is too large or heavy to keep near your keyboard, place it where you have to stand to get it to help you resist the urge to twist.
- Your chair. Your chair should be at a height to where your feet rest fully and flat on the floor. Your knees should also be level with your hips. If the back rest in your desk chair doesn’t adequately support your back, you may wish to purchase a small lumbar pillow or rolled-up towel to place in your lower back curve.
- Your computer monitor. Looking too high or too low at your monitor can affect your posture and therefore contribute to lower back pain. Your monitor should be about an arm’s length away from your chair with the top portion of the screen just a small amount below eye level.
An ergonomic desk is rarely enough. You’ll also need to get up frequently and take walking breaks to relieve muscle tension.
4. Eat for bone health
A healthy diet is important for a number of reasons when you have lower back pain. First, eating well can help you maintain a healthy weight. Excess weight puts extra strain on your lower back, adding to your pain. Second, a diet that’s high in key nutrients can help promote bone growth and keep your bones strong. These must-have nutrients include:
- Calcium. Foods high in calcium include dairy products, such as yogurt, milk, cheese, frozen yogurt, and ice cream. If you don’t (or can’t) eat dairy, some foods are fortified with calcium, such as cereal, orange juice, oatmeal, and nondairy milks. Veggies like collard greens, kale, bok choy, and broccoli also have calcium.
- Phosphorus. Foods high in phosphorus are also dairy foods, including cheese, milk, cottage cheese, ice cream, pudding, and yogurt. Other foods with phosphorus include: baked beans, kidney beans, black beans, bran cereals, oysters, sardines, and dark colas.
- Vitamin D. Foods high in vitamin D include cod liver oil, swordfish, salmon, fortified milk, sardines, eggs, and fortified cereals.
5. Sleep smarter
Sleeping in an awkward position can cause you to be in pain from the moment you wake up. The best sleeping position for lower back pain may be sleeping on your side with your knees drawn up close to your chest (also known as the fetal position). Placing a pillow or two between your legs, while sleeping on your side, helps to reduce stress on your lower back. Sleeping on a too soft mattress can also cause lower back pain. A firmer mattress is best.
6. Try yoga
According to a study published in Annals of Internal Medicine, there is strong evidence that yoga can have a short-term effect on treating lower back pain. Yoga involves slow, controlled movements to stretch and strengthen the body. This exercise form also promotes stress relief, which can help reduce tension you may commonly hold in your lower back.
The Child’s Pose is a yoga position that is especially beneficial for the back. To perform Child’s Pose, start on all fours, then stretch back, resting your bottom on your feet. Your arms should stay extended with your hands on the floor. This creates a stretch in your lower back. Hold this pose for 30 seconds, then return to your starting position. Repeat five times.
Lower back pain can be a chronic and debilitating condition. Small, daily actions can either help or worsen your discomfort. By taking steps to strengthen, stretch, and protect your back, you can ideally stop or slow pain.
However, severe cases of low back pain can’t always be fixed by lifestyle changes. If your lower back pain interferes with your ability to perform everyday activities, talk to your doctor.