While back pain can be indicative of serious underlying medical issues, often it is related to a sedentary lifestyle, weight gain, poor posture, or stress. In these cases, there are steps you can take at home to relieve and prevent future pain.
- Alternate the Use of Cold Compresses and Heat – Ice and heat act in different ways to help with back pain. Ice causes blood flow to the area to decrease, which also reduces inflammation and swelling. Heat increases blood and oxygen supply to the area, which reduces pain. Try applying an ice pack or bag of frozen vegetables to the area for 10 to 15 minutes, followed by taking a warm shower or wrapping a hot water bottle in a towel and applying it to your back for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Pressure – Massage can be a great way to obtain relief from back pain. Try using a tennis ball to apply gentle pressure to the painful areas of your lower back. For sciatic nerve pain, lie on the floor with your knees bent and place the tennis ball under your lower back, moving until you find the tender pressure point area. Stretch out one leg at a time, allowing the pressure of the tennis ball to loosen up tight muscles in the area.
- Engage in Low Impact Exercise – While nagging back pain may seem like a good excuse to stay off your feet; low impact exercise actually reduces back pain. Walking, swimming, bicycling, and yoga are good ways to keep your body moving, build up your muscles, and release some feel-good endorphins that will help alleviate your back pain.
- Use Proper Lifting Techniques – We’ve all been told, “Lift with your legs, not your back.” To implement this, always stand feet apart, close to the object you are going to lift. Bend at your knees, not at your waist, to grasp the object. Straighten your knees slowly, tightening your stomach muscles, while holding the object close to your body.
- Evaluate Your Posture – Good posture helps to prevent or combat strain on your back caused by gravity. Slouching puts unnecessary strain on your spinal column by moving bones and joints out of alignment. To stand with proper posture, keep your feet about shoulder-width apart with knees slightly bent and your weight centered on the balls of your feet. Stand straight and tall with your stomach tucked in, shoulders back, and head level.
- Find the Right Sleeping Position – The right sleeping position can make a big difference in the comfort of your back. If you prefer sleeping on your back, place a pillow under your knees for added support. If you find sleeping on your side to be more comfortable, lie on your side with knees bent and place a pillow between your legs. Use additional pillows around your body for support. Sleeping on your stomach is not recommended, as it can place additional strain on your back.
- Improve Your Eating Habits – Remove foods from your diet that cause inflammation, such as processed foods, fried foods, and sugar. Replace these foods with nutritious, anti-inflammatory foods. Colorful fruits and berries, leafy greens, and cruciferous vegetables all contain powerful antioxidants that help fight inflammation. Fish, nuts, and seeds are rich in anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids that reduce inflammation. Switching to fresh, whole foods will give your body the nutrition it needs, increase your energy, and decrease painful inflammation.
Dr. Frank E. Kaden, D.C.
1927 Artesia Blvd., #7
Redondo Beach, CA 90278