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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.

Woman on couch with back pain, way's to alleviate back pain

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.

Related: Yoga Poses That Relieve Stress and Anxiety

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.  


SelectHealth may link to other websites for your convenience. SelectHealth does not expressly or implicitly recommend or endorse the views, opinions, specific services, or products referenced at other websites linked to the SelectHealth site, unless explicitly stated.

The content presented here is for your information only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, and it should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Please consult your healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns.

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Amberlee Lovell Peterson
Amberlee is a content manager, freelance writer, and designer. She is currently working on launching her own podcast and loves baby foxes.