The question of how to relieve lower back pain is very a common one and so many people in the United States and all over the world are suffering from this horrible discomfort.
Experiencing lower back pain is not your fault and no one should have to live with this devastating pain. The information in this article will help you to understanding your back pain, how to prevent lower back pain and how to deal with it effectively if you should end up with back pain. We hope you will find it useful.
Let’s get started with one of the simplest things you can do to protect your back, but one that is often the most overlooked. It’s time to look at the chairs you are sitting in.
Finding the right chair so you don’t strain your back
Finding the right chair to avoid back pain and back strain is easy once you know how. The correct chair can help with your posture, give you proper support, and even ease nagging backache.
There are several key places we spend a lot of time sitting. These include desks at work and at home, and in front of the TV.
While watching TV
If you watch a lot of TV, a supportive recliner, or a sofa with supportive cushions can help. So too can not slumping in the seats, but rather, being conscious of how you sit and perhaps even using a lumbar support cushion to protect the small of your back.
While at your desk
Since many of us spend so much time each day sitting at our desks, investing in a supportive chair is key. You might sit properly for the first few minutes each time you get into the chair, but gradually, most people will slouch over, or slouch down. A chair with supportive curves, or a lumbar support for your lower back can help. You can buy lumbar supports and strap them to the back of the chair in just the right location to stop yourself slouching.
If your desk chair has arms, you might tend to lean to one side or the other, especially if one arm is higher than the other. A small booster you strap to the arm of the desk chair can help you stay upright.
They also tend not to pay attention to their feet. The chair should be short enough for your feet to touch the floor, but not so short that your knees start to rise above the level of your hips. Foot platforms and wedges can help prevent this.
If you have a rolling desk chair, you might tend to rest your feet on it, or even tuck your legs back around the pedestal. Similarly, if you are sitting in a chair with legs, you might wrap your feet, ankles and legs around them, leading to less support and more pressure on the lower back and pelvis. A comfortable chair is a must for good back support.
The most obvious is the lumbar support for your desk chair, as we discussed in the previous lesson. You can also find ones suitable for your car seat.
A ring cushion
A ring cushion will often be inflatable and help position your hips and lower back in such a way as to support them and take pressure off them which might lead to pain.
Back braces come in a range of styles, for different purposes.
Upper back support
This looks like a bra in many cases. It helps maintain posture.
Posture Support Bras
Large chested women and/or those with back issues will often buy bras that are specially supportive. They usually have wide shoulder straps that are padded and a reinforced back. They are usually referred to as posture support bras.
This look like the old-fashioned corsets that women used to wear and force the person to maintain correct posture while giving good support. They can be soft, or very rigid to keep the back immobile.
Back belt support braces
Some of these are belts only that support the lumbar reason, or small of the back. Others will go around the waist and upper hips and may include shoulder straps. These are both often used by people who need to lift heavy weights, to support the back and stop themselves from bending forwards or backwards, or twisting while lifting.
Some supports are perfect for bed. These include:
A contour pillow
You can also try a contour pillow, with or without memory foam. The theory behind these support pillows is that they keep the back, hips and spine in natural alignment, without one leg crossing over the other and causing twisting and possible injury.
As the name suggests, a body pillow gives full body support when a person is in bed. Some people enjoy a body pillow to make them feel supported and sleeping in proper alignment. They are particularly popular with pregnant women because the pillow supports their rounded belly and can prevent dragging on and twisting of the back.
You should only use a brace upon the advice of a doctor, because in some cases, they can actually weaken your own core muscles because you are not using them and thus lead to worsening back pain.
How to prevent back pain easily every day
Let’s look at the many other quick and easy ways to prevent back problems that you can use every day to stay pain-free. Let’s look at back pain prevention throughout the day.
Invest in a supportive mattress
If we sleep the suggested 8 hours per night, this means we spend one-third of our life in bed. That being the case, the right mattress can make all the difference between a healthy back and one that is prone to injury.
Buy the right mattress
Don’t try to buy online.
Sit and bounce and lie down on the beds in a showroom. It is a big commitment, so make the right choice.
People will back issues will often share their experiences of what works well for them.
Consider splurging on memory foam
This fits around your body snugly, giving excellent support.
Replace your mattress every 5 to 7 years.
Rotate the mattress head to foot and flip it over unless it is a one-sided support mattress.
Don’t sleep on your stomach. It wrecks the curve of your neck and back.
Getting out of bed
Don’t leap out of bed. Take the time to stretch in the bed to lengthen the spine, and then ‘cat stretch’ from side to side as you would in a yoga class.
When you stand up, stretch as well.
Don’t ‘bounce’ if your touch your toes. Just fold over.
Warm up before any work out. If you work out in the morning, stretch first. Yoga is great for this, or as a practice on its own.
Taking care on transportation
Most Americans commute to work every day for about an hour. If you are on a train or bus, try to sit without slouching. If you have to stand, try to stand with your hips aligned with your shoulders. Don’t cock one hip or the other.
If you drive to work, adjust the seat in terms of height and back support. Be sure you can reach the pedals comfortably without stretching, or feeling mashed in.
Don’t hunch over the wheel.
Don’t allow your knees to be much higher than your hips.
Plan stretches or breaks if you have a long trip.
Shift in your seat. This helps re-distribute the weight so things won’t get pinched and compressed.
Care for your back at work
Watch out for:
- A good chair
- Lifting correctly
- Not sitting too long
- consider standing up when you talk on the phone, for example, or at meetings.
Try these easy ways to care for your back each day and see what a difference they can make.
8 exercises for the lower back to relived pain, and prevent injury
Start with both feet hip width apart. Step one foot forward, such as the right foot, until it is on the floor in front of you with the knee at a 90-degree angle. The other knee (left) can rest on the floor. Return to standing by either stepping back, or pushing with your left foot until it is once again level with your right foot. Repeat by stepping out with the left foot and bringing the right knee downwards
Lay on the floor with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor, and the small of your back comfortably supported on the floor. Cross one leg, such as the right one, over the left leg. Using both hands, grip the thigh of the leg underneath, in this case, the left leg, and gently draw both legs towards your chest. Hold for 5 seconds and release the leg so the foot is once more flat on the floor.
Lay on the floor with one knee bent, foot flat on the floor, and the small of your back comfortably supported on the floor, the other leg stretched straight out flat on the floor. Bend one knee. Using both hands, grip the thigh of the raised leg. Support the leg as you try to straighten it. Picture yourself pushing up to the ceiling with your heel. Straighten as far as you can, hold for 5 seconds, then release the leg so it is bent again. Repeat 4 more times on that side and then do the same sequence of exercises with the opposite leg.
Standing next to a wall for balance, and leaning with your right side or holding on to the wall with your right hand, bend your left knee. Reach down your left hand to grip the upper part of your foot around the toe area. Bring the heel of the foot close to the back of the thigh. Try to keep the knees together, with the raised leg parallel to the standing leg, not spread apart widely.
5-Yoga pose: Plank
Plank is like the upward position of a push-up. Don’t let the back sag down or thrust upwards. Keep it as straight as a board.
6-Yoga pose: Dolphin Plank
Instead of resting your weight on your hands, rest it on your forearms and elbows. Again, don’t sag. This is great for a solid core.
7 and 8-Yoga poses: Cat and Cow
Start in cow, on your hands and knees, back straight. Arch your head and neck back–pretend to moo. Now move to cat, and think of a hissing cat arching its back angrily. Bring the head down and arch the back. Move slowly back to cow, then to cat, and so on, about 10 times, keeping the movement smooth and steady.
6 Exercises that can Help to Strengthen the Upper Back
Start by tilting your head right ear to right shoulder. Then let you head hang down to the center of your chest. Raise it again so the left ear is now close to the right shoulder. Lean your head back so that your head is back full. Repeat, making the circle as smooth as possible. Repeat 5 to 10 times. Then repeat the exercise starting with your left year, down, up to the right, to the back, and around to the left again.
Shrug the shoulders up, roll them around the back, forward to the front, and back up into a shrug. Do the rolls slowly and steadily. Repeat 10 times, then reverse the direction. From the shrug, roll forward, down and back.
Sitting or standing, with your head straight, take the fingers of your dominant hand and rest them on your chin. Apply light pressure so you chin gets tucked in and you can feel pressure on the back of your neck and the base of your skull. Don’t push too hard, but do feel the muscles engage.
4-Cross-Body Arm Stretch
Straighten your right arm out in front of you, thumb facing upwards. Bring it straight across your chest so your elbow is now roughly in the center of your chest. Apply light pressure with your left hand to bring the right arm closer into the chest. Hold for 5 to 10 seconds, relax, and repeat on the other side.
5-Yoga pose: Downward dog
This classic yoga pose starts with you on your hands and knees on the floor. Push with the hands and feet so your backside goes up in the air and your head hangs down towards the floor. You can be on your toes, but try to get the feet on the floor in order to get a good stretch in the legs and lower back. Hold for 10 to 30 seconds and release.
6-Yoga pose: Upward dog
Start on your stomach on the floor, legs stretched out, tops of the feet pressing on the floor. Hands should be flat on the floor, resting near your upper waist elbows bent. Straighten your elbows to raise your chest up off the floor and your legs and thighs a couple of inches off the floor. Hold for 10 to 15 seconds and release down to the floor.
Or, if you can, try to do a slow and steady flow sequence in which you move from downward to upward and back again.
8 exercises to avoid when you have lower back pain
A lot of people think they shouldn’t exercise at all when they have lower back pain. Others try to actively recuperate with a range of exercises. A safer bet would be to rest for a day or so, then gradually become more active once more.
Having said that, there are several exercises you should avoid if you have a bad lower back. Here are ones to avoid, with healthier alternatives.
1-The full sit up
This puts way too much pressure on your lower back. A better option: the pelvic tilt. Start in the sit up position and bend your legs so your feet are flat on the floor. Then push with your feet to scoop your pelvis up off the floor.
2-Touching your toes
This puts a lot of strain on the lower back and can lead to injury if you bounce. Instead, simply fold over from the waist and let gravity do the rest.
3-Toe touching and twisting from side to side
This can also strain and sprain the back. Try laying on the ground and bringing your knee up to your chest one at a time. It will work all the muscles on both sides without risk of injury.
Leg lifts usually involve you starting flat on the floor and trying to lift your legs to the ceiling. Even doing these the easy way, with your hands under your buttocks, can lead to back strain and pain. Try a wall sit instead. Stand with your back close to a wall and ‘sit’ until your knees are at a 90-degree angle. Hold and push yourself back up the wall using your legs.
5-High intensity aerobics
Try water walking or water aerobics instead.
This can be far too jarring on all your joints and your back. Try a walking program of 10,000 steps a day, about 3.5 to 5 miles depending on how tall you are and the length of your stride.
All the stopping, starting and reaching for the ball with tennis can lead to strain and injury. Try cycling or spinning instead.
Contact sports are a major cause of many injuries, including back and neck injuries. Try yoga instead. There are hundreds of poses you can learn that can help you improve various parts of your body including your back. If you feel like a more intense workout, try flow sequences, in which you do each pose in such a way that you move from one to the next in a continuous motion rather than stopping and starting between poses.
Exercise is good for your health, but some are bad choices if you have a bad back.
6 back exercises for pregnant women
There is no doubt that exercise is beneficial at all stages of life, but pregnancy can restrict movement and force women to re-think their workout routines. In addition, millions of women suffer back pain each year as a result of their pregnancy, usually starting between the fifth and seventh month, and lasting until the end of the pregnancy or beyond, as the demands of motherhood take their toll on the back.
Fortunately, there are a range of exercises pregnant women can do safely to keep their back open, not compressed and strained.
Sit upright in a chair or cross-legged on the floor. Bend your right ear towards your right shoulder. Return your head to center. Repeat with the left side. Alternate, for a total of 10 times each side.
2-Cross-Body Arm Stretch
Standing with a straight back, cross a straight right arm across your chest, and use left hand to gently pull right upper arm closer to your body. Hold for 10 seconds, relax, and repeat on the other side.
3-Lower-Back Hand Clasp
Standing with a straight back, bring your hands together behind your back, clasping them like you are folding your hands. Raise the arms up towards the ceiling as far as you can go comfortably, such as the waist. You should feel the shoulder blades come together. Repeat 5 times.
Stand straight with your arms relaxed. Imagine you are in a pool doing the back stroke. Raise your right arm so it is straight out in front of you, your little finger uppermost, with its outer side facing the ceiling. Raise your arm up and around, leading with the little finger. Repeat on the other side. Keep the movements smooth and controlled.
5-Yoga pose: Reverse plank
The principle is the same as for plank, with the pose similar to that of the upper position of a sit up. In this case, however, your back will be facing the floor and you will be looking up at the ceiling. The easiest way to achieve this is to sit on the floor with your arms a bit behind you and slightly to the sides. Push upwards with your arms and your heels until you get your body into a straight plank with no sagging at the hips.
6-Yoga pose: Reverse dolphin plank
This is the same as reverse plank, except you are resting on your forearms and elbows, both flat on the floor, rather than on your hands. You can push up on your heels, or leave your buttock on the floor. Breathe into the pose and feel the chest and back open up and expand as you look up at the ceiling.
The link between back pain and obesity
By now, most people know that being overweight or obese is bad for the health for many reasons. One of the main ones is in relation to back and joint pain. Studies have shown that being obese can significantly contribute to symptoms linked to:
- osteoarthritis (OA)
- rheumatoid arthritis (RA)
- degenerative disc disease (DDD)
- spinal stenosis, that is, narrowing of the spine
- spondylolisthesis, that is, one vertebrae slipping forward onto a lower one
A growing body of research has indicated that in developed countries such as the United States, there is both a link between obesity and back pain, and the degree to which the pain is experienced. In the US, 68% of the population is overweight and obese. Up to 80% of the US population will experience lower back pain at some point in their lives, and up to 25% will have chronic, that is, long lasting pain.
Interestingly, a study of 9 countries around the world showed much lower rates of back pain in many countries, only 26% to 50%, and of those cases, they were mainly linked with obesity.
While no study has shown a causal link, obesity can be a good indicator of a lack of physical exercise and a sedentary lifestyle. Too much sitting can lead to poor posture, core strength, weight gain and poor muscle tone.
The impact on the spine
The spine carries the body’s weight and deals with carrying various things throughout the day. When a heavy weight is carried, the spine is forced to cope, but excessive weight can lead to damage, such as muscle strain, sprain, disc or nerve compression, and even vertebral fracture. In particular, the lumbar spine, or lower back, is most at risk.
The lumbar region
The lumbar region literally take the strain for a number of reasons. It carries the entire weight of the torso. It needs to be firm but flexible. However, it needs to be supported in turn by strong muscles. The trouble is that many people who don’t exercise have a weak core. A weak core means weak back muscles too. This can lead to poor posture and pain in the pelvis and thighs.
Losing weight for a better back
If you are overweight or obese, there are many tools available that can help you lose weight and maintain a healthy body weight. Exercises that focus on a strong back and core can also help free you from back pain.
Start to slim down by cutting calories and/or carbohydrates, which get stored by the body as fat. Gradually increase your level of activity, both to burn calories and develop a stronger back. Try yoga for strength training and a solid core. Start a walking program for whole body exercise and weight bearing exercise that can keep bones, joints and muscles strong even as you age.
Types of back pain massage for for relaxation, stress relief healing
Massage is a healing therapy that uses the hands or sometimes other objects to soothe the muscles, ease pain and aid in relaxation.
There are many different types. The kind you choose will depend on what your goal is, such as stress relief, pain relief, or complementary and alternative medicine (CAM).
This can be done when you sit in a chair, and some chairs are mechanical and said to massage the person in them. They are useful for relaxation and stress relief.
Hot Stone Massage
The heat can relax and ease tight muscles, and the stones are used to dig deeper into tissue. The effect is one of pain relief, relaxation and reinvigoration.
This is the most common type of massage therapy, and what many people are thinking about when they hear the word “massage” or try to give someone else or themselves a good massage. Swedish massage uses a combination of basic movements such as kneading, sweeping, tapping and pressing hard with the fingers or knuckle on certain spots.
There are a number of forms of massage that can have healing benefits.
Deep Tissue Massage
This should only be done by a trained massage therapist, so no further injury is caused. The theory is to get down deep using considerable pressure in order to ease knotted muscles. Therapists will use fingers, knuckles and even elbows to dig in. This is not relaxing and you are likely to be sore for several days after.
Trigger Point Massage
This is similar to deep tissue massage, focusing on particular pain or trigger points. The theory is that certain points can cause other parts of the body to experience pain. By massaging the trigger point, the whole area can relax.
Shiatsu and Acupressure
These are similar to trigger point massage. Shiatsu means ‘finger pressure’ in Japanese and uses stretching and pressure on different trigger points. Acupressure will use fingers and knuckles to massage meridians or energy centers in the body to restore health and balance.
This should only be undertaken by a qualified practitioner to avoid injury. A chiropractor will massage and perform joint and back manipulation to try to ease pain and restore natural, healthy body dynamics such as the way you sit, stand and walk.
Many of these massage methods are considered CAM and therefore covered by insurance. Check your CAM provisions in your policy and try one or more to see which work best for your back pain.
How to give yourself a back massage
You might be dreading the idea of having to take your clothes off in front of anyone in order to get a massage. You might also be worried about the cost. Even if it is covered by your insurance, the co-pays can add up.
Fortunately, you can actually give yourself a pretty good massage once you know how that can help relieve stress and tension and ease back pain.
Start by massaging the head all over, paying particular attention to the base of the skull. Press lightly at the base with your thumb.
Work your way down the neck slowly with your fingers, massaging in one direction towards your feet.
Massage one shoulder at a time with the opposite hand. Massage on the top, and also under the arm if you can reach.
Middle of the back
Reach behind your back with both thumbs facing upwards. Massage up and down as far as you can reach.
Put your hands on your waist and massage your lower back as far as you can reach, using downward strokes with the thumb.
The buttocks can carry a lot of pain, strain and tension. Massage the muscles from the lower back downwards, following the curve of each buttock.
Try this first with your clothing and standing up to see how far you can reach. Once you get used to the sequence, try it in a warm (not hot) shower with soapy hands. The muscles will be less tense and you should be able to reach more easily. You can also do it in the shower after you’ve had a bath or swim.
Coconut oil can help if you want to give yourself a massage after a bath or shower. It is very nourishing to the skin and non-sticky on your hands. It also has a pleasant scent.
You may not be able to reach as many places as a massage therapist or your spouse, but you will be sure you don’t cause damage to your back by pressing too hard.
Conclusion: How to Relieve Lower Back Pain
So there you have it, 10 key ways you can prevent, or get relief from your back. A sore back is one of the most common health complains in the USA. But there’s no need to suffer needlessly when there are so many ways to prevent back pain, or gain back pain relief. We hope you’ve learned a lot from this article and will apply everything you learn to stay pain-free from the misery of an aching back pain.