7 Ways to Alleviate Back Pain
Back pain is common, but there are things we can do to prevent it or alleviate the pain when it hits.
Back pain is a pain in the, well, back. And if you’re experiencing it, there are some simple ways you can try to alleviate it without spending a lot of money or jumping to painkillers. Try these seven fixes to see if they work for you.
1. Don’t go on bed rest (unless your doctor says otherwise)
Exercising hardly seems fun (or even doable) if you’re in a lot of pain. But according to Mayo Health Clinic, most back pain resolves within a few weeks, and you should be as active as your pain can tolerate. Some types of exercise are more helpful for your back than others. Low impact exercises, like swimming, are great. Biking, walking, tai chi, or stretching exercises (we’ll get to those in a minute) are also great for your aching back.
2. Try common yoga poses
Yoga seems to be the magical answer for many health-related problems these days—for good reason. Yoga relieves stress and tension, strengthens your body, and helps maintain your healthy spine.
Try Cat/Cow, Standing Forward Fold, Bridge, Pigeon, Upward and Downward Facing Dog, and Triangle poses to help your back. Learn more about yoga poses that can help prevent back pain. Or try out this 30-minute yoga practice for your back.
3. Just breathe
Try some meditative breathing to slow down, calm your mind, and in return, calm your body. Dr. Andrew Weil recommends this easy breathing technique:
- Sit comfortably and put the tip of your tongue lightly behind your top teeth. Breathe out of your mouth and make a whoosh noise.
- After you’ve let all the air out, close your mouth and breathe in through your nose while counting to four.
- Hold your breath for seven counts.
- Exhale completely like you did in step one, making it last for eight counts.
- Repeat the cycle three times.
Make this a daily practice, possibly right when you wake up or during your lunch break, and it will help you get in the habit of letting your mind and body relax.
4. Be flexible
Loosening up your muscles everywhere will in turn help keep your back happy. If yoga isn’t your thing, try other stretches each morning or night to make sure you’re staying flexible.
Related: 6 Tips to Prevent Back Injuries
5. Use hot or cold compress
Using hot or cold compresses can help the pain go away loosening up your muscles and reducing inflammation. To know which option is better for your pain, pay attention to how the joint or muscle feels. Heat is relaxing and increases blood flow. If it feels tight, try using a heating pad or soaking in a hot bath to relax it. But if it feels hot and irritated, you’ll want to try out an ice pack.
6. Make sure your mattress is working for you
If you’re constantly waking up with back pain, your mattress could be the likely culprit. You spend a lot of time in your bed (although maybe not as much as you wished)—make sure your mattress isn’t causing more harm than it’s worth.
Some mattress companies will allow you to test out a mattress for a period of time to decide if it’s the right fit for you. Finding one that doesn’t leave you aching is worth the investment.
7. If all else fails, consider seeing a professional
If you’re doing all these things and after a few weeks your pain hasn’t gone away, it might be time to visit a professional. While some lifestyle changes can help get rid of your pain, sometimes the cause might be something more.
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