8 Ways to Reduce Low Back Pain
The following tips can be very helpful if you are suffering from most type of back pain.
They should not, however, replace an evaluation by your physician, or physical therapist.
The “Do Not’s”
1. Do not sit for prolonged periods. Even if the your seat is
supportive, postural muscles fatigue after about 20 minutes and you
will begin to slouch causing more stress to the back. A simple rule
would be to stand for one minute after 20 minutes of sitting.
2. Do not hold your breath. When you’re in pain it is a natural
tendency to hold your breath. It’s your body’s way of “splinting”
itself. It is also a compensation your body makes to stabilize itself
if the core muscles are weak. However, when you hold your breath, it
increases pressure in the abdominal cavity, and pressure on the spinal
3. Do not lift. No matter the source of the injury, lifting causes
compression to the spine. Depending on the severity of the injury,
even as little as 5 pounds can cause increased pain. If you must
4. Do not twist, particularly if carrying something. Rotational
forces can be the most damaging to the spine, as it places the disc in
its most vulnerable position.
5. Ice. Especially if it’s the first 48-72 hours after the pain
started. Ice will help with the acute inflammation, and will dull the pain. Even as little as 10 minutes will help. If you are using a gel
pack you can lie on it through 1-2 layers of t-shirt with your legs
elevated. If you’re using an ice bag you may require additional layers
to protect your skin, and it should be placed on your back as you lie
on your stomach. If you are uncomfortable on your stomach, try lying
with a pillow under your belly button.
6. Heat. You can begin to heat after the acute (48-72 hour) period
has passed. This can help alleviate tight, stiff muscles, and improve
circulation to the area. A hot shower is a good way to apply heat, or
with a heating pad in the positions described with ice. If you are
lying on the heating pad you may need an additional layer between you
and the heat source to prevent a burn. The best time for heat is when
you wake, or before activity. Heating should be about 10 minutes as
well. Prolonged heating of 15-20 minutes can aggravate your pain, so
monitor your time and intensity of heat.
7. Topical analgesic products. Balms, creams, gels, oils, lotions,
patches, ointments can be found in every pharmacy without a
perscription. Understand topical analgesics will not cure your problem, but they can be effective in reducing the intensity of the pain.
8. Hydrate. The cells require water to carry out their basic tasks, and when there is an injury there is cellular waste and inflammation that must be removed. Hydrating aides this process. Also, the disc (the cushion between the vertebrae of the spine) absorbs water, particularly when we are lying down, so drink up!