Whether you’ve injure yourself lifting a heavy load or you suffer from chronic lower back pain (from a degenerative condition like arthritis), lower back pain can be difficult to shake. Sometimes it can be serious: if you’re injured and feel numbness, weakness, or tingling in the legs, call the doctor. But for routine or mild back pain, here are a few helpful tips.
How To Manage Lower Back Pain:
- Protect your back with proper lifting techniques. Bend at the knees, keep objects close to your body, hold your abdominal muscles tight and avoid twisting when you lift. You can also use a back brace for added support for the back and abdominal muscles.
- Rest on your back. Lie on the floor with your legs elevated in a chair several times a day. This will offload the pressure on the spine and decrease the healing time.
- Avoid any lifting until your back had completely healed.
- Ice your back several times a day. This will reduce inflammation. Even though heat may feel good, (it mask the pain and relaxes the muscles), it actually inflames the inflammatory process. Make sure to take the ice off after 20 minutes to give you skin rest. Remember: never put ice directly on the skin. Place a towel between you and the ice.
- Keeping moving as much as possible. Our spines are meant to stay in motion. Prolonged bed rest will tighten muscles and decrease the mobility of the spine. Do not overdo it! Don’t lift anything heavy or exercise strenuously. Just continue with you daily activities until you are completely healed.
- Keep you back and abdominal muscles strong. Once your pain has subsided, work on strengthening the muscles that support your low back, These are the back extensor muscles (they help maintain proper posture and alignment of the spine). You also need strong hips, pelvic and abdominal muscles to support the back.
- Stretch. You sit slumped over the steering wheel all day. Take a break as often as you can and stretch the other way. This is call back extension exercises. Also, don’t forget to stretch your legs. Tight hamstrings often lead to low back pain. Many people find relief by doing regular yoga.
- Watch your posture. Slumping makes it hard for your spine to support your weight. Never bend from the waist when lifting a heavy object, bend at the knees.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Being over weight puts added stress on your spine.
- Try over-the-counter pain medications. Non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory medications can reduce pain and inflammation that causes pain. Be sure to check with your doctor before you take any medication.
- Modify your sleeping position. When lying on your back, place two pillows under your knees to take excess stress off your lower back. When lying on your side, place a pillow between the knee and all the way to the feet. This will keep the hips and knees in alignment and decrease the stress on your lower back.
Coach Dawn Harrison
National Board Certified Health and Wellness Coach
Physical Therapist Assistant
CDL Wellness Coach