Back pain is a common complaint. In fact, it is one of the top factors in missed work and doctor’s appointments. Here’s how to get some relief when back pain gives you the blues.
Common causes of back pain
A big driver of back pain is improper sitting. Poor posture causes undue pressure on back muscles and disks. Remedy – Change the way you sit to relieve the pain. Improve your posture by sitting up tall with a forward curve in your lower spine. Pretend you have a tail and let it project out a bit as you work to get the hang of it. If this feels hard to do, try using a lumbar pillow. No lumbar pillow handy? Try sitting on a small rolled towel. Be sure to always stand straight, too.
Lack of exercise
Excess weight puts too much stress on back muscles. Moreover, unused back and abdominal muscles become weakened. This leads to pain with exertion. Remedy – strengthen your core with moves such as regular and side plank or bridges. Drop a few pounds with regular brisk walking and a healthy diet.
Smoking reduces blood flow and nutrients to the discs in your lower back. These nutrients are critical for a healthy, strong back as well as for healing if the back is injured. Remedy – find strategies and get support to stop smoking. It may take several tries, so even if you haven’t been successful at stopping before – try again as many times as you need to.
Other relief tips to try…
Head for the counter – use over the counter and prescription pain relievers if not contraindicated by your healthcare professional. Heat and ice can also bring some relief.
Try a gentle touch – the healing hands of massage may be just the touch you need.
Hit the mat – the healing poses of yoga can soothe, strengthen and stretch sore back muscles. There are a number of videos you can view and follow along with from home.
Stretch your hamstrings – tight hamstrings lead to overcompensation that brings on back pain.
Manage your mood – although the connection is not clearly understood there is a link between depression and back pain.
Sleep well – get 7 to 8 hours sleep in a position that supports your back each evening.
Don’t let back pain get you down. Keep moving. Regular exercise, improved posture and going smoke free can help you find relief.