Managing lower back pain

Lower back pain is a common health issue that most people begin to experience in their thirties. Causes of lower back pain range mostly from a sedentary lifestyle and incorrect postures to heavy workouts and heavy lifting. Most mild to moderate pain will disappear on its own, but if your pain persists more than 72 hours, you may need to consult your doctor. Pain that persists longer than three months is chronic and might signal underlying conditions like spondylitis, slipped disc, spinal stenosis, sciatica among others. However, once you start experiencing pain, there are a lot of things you can do at home to bring lower back pain relief. From stretching exercises to yoga and heat and cold packs, certain simple home remedies may in fact be your best bets at managing acute lower back pain. Here are some simple lower back pain relief tips that you can try at home to manage your pain.

Lower back pain relief at home

Stay active

More often than not, back pain is causes by a sedentary lifestyle. In our bust work schedules, where most of the day is spent sitting on a chair, slouching in front of the monitor- your back becomes the biggest casualty. Staying active is the best way to combat this. Also, if your back pain is arising from muscle strain, doctors recommend that more than a day or two of bed rest can actually worsen your condition (though you may not feel like getting out of bed when your back hurts!) Returning to normal activities as soon as possible is the best way to get your muscle tone and flexibility back in shape. Our spines are meant to keep moving- so engage yourself in daily activities like making the bed, walking your dog and when you feel you are right enough for some more- try aerobic exercises like swimming, bicycling and walking.

Photo Credit: coastalorthopedics.com

Releasing your inner endorphins

Endorphins are hormones that can block pain signals from registering in the brain. They work as good as any pain medication to reduce pain and are naturally produced by your body- so always a better option. There are several ways you could stimulate these hormones. For example, by practicing yoga, aerobic exercises, deep breathing, meditation and even eating dark chocolate or laughing and smiling!

Getting some sleep

Often your pain may stop you from getting good sleep and this in turn only worsens the pain. Try getting some restorative sleep by taking medication or better, trying some mind relaxation techniques. Eating the right foods and cutting back on caffeine also helps. If you’re troubled about something, writing your worries down may help you get good rest.

Lower back pain exercises

Exercises that strengthen your abs and back are important to strengthen your lower back and lumbar region. It is a good idea to incorporate such exercises into your daily schedule for about 20 to 30 minutes.

Lower back pain heat or cold therapy

Applying heat and/or cold therapy can be very relaxing to your lower back pain. You can use homemade ice packs or hot water bags or even electric heating pads for the same. You may also find a hot bath or shower; or soaking in a hot tub relaxing. Cold therapy helps to reduce inflammation and serves as a local anesthetic. Heat therapy stimulates blood flow, bringing the healing nutrients to your affected back. It also stops pain messages from relaying to the brain. If your lower back pain is due to some injury, it is best to first apply cold therapy for the first 24 to 48 hours. Then , if you prefer, you may switch to heat therapy. This is because although the heat may relax your muscles and cover up the pain, it can also inflame the inflammatory processes further. With either therapy do not apply for more than 20 minutes at a stretch, because your skin too needs rest.

Lower back pain relief massage

Stretching exercises

Do light stretches at frequent intervals throughout the day, instead of slumping or slouching on your chair all day long. Stand up, stretch backward, and stretch your legs consciously in between work. If you can manage the time, an hour of yoga daily can work wonders. Also, it is important to do some gentle hamstring stretching at least twice per day since tight hamstrings can add stress across the lower back and lead to more pain otherwise.

Yoga routine

Following a regular yoga routine has been found helpful to combat pain that lingers on for more than three months as well. Just be sure you are taking your Yoga practice from an experienced teacher who knows what you should or shouldn’t be practicing at this time and can modify postures for you as required.

Reduce weight if you are overweight

Being overweight puts extra stress on your spine and is one of the risk factors for developing lower back pain. Keep your weight within healthy limits by practicing a regular diet and exercise program.

Maintain the right posture

When you’re sitting, sit erect, with shoulders stretched out- do not slump; and if possible rest your feet on a low stool. When bending to lift heavy objects, don’t bend over from your waist. Rather bend and straighten from the knees.

Wear low heels

For once, switch to flats or low heels and you will feel the difference. High heels and pencils may look fashionable but they create a more unstable posture and add to pressure on your lower spine. Relax with flats or heels less than an inch to reduce your back problems.

Try over the counter medication for lower back pain relief

As a last resort, you can take over the counter medication like anti-inflammatory drugs and pain relievers. But be sure to check with your doctor or pharmacist to be sure they don’t have adverse interactions with any medication that you’re already taking.

Often the answer to “what is good for lower back pain relief” is not any specific remedy but a mix of the above- that you will be able to figure out after some trial and error.

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