Whether you’ve got a condition such as arthritis or you’ve hurt your back lifting something heavy, lower back pain can be incredibly debilitating. With a quarter of all Americans saying they’ve suffered from low back pain recently, it’s something that most of us will experience at some time or other.
Sometimes, this low back pain can be serious – resulting in you getting injured, feeling tingling in your legs or a weakness or numbness in them. If this is the case, you’ll need to speak to your doctor who’ll be able to suggest the best course of action. However, if you have mild and routine low back pain, here are some home remedies that can help to ease this pain:
Use Ice On It
To reduce inflammation, it’s important that you use ice within the first 24 to 48 hours after your back injury. Even though you might think a warm pack may be more soothing, it won’t help to reduce inflammation and can result in the area becoming even more inflamed. After 48 hours has passed you can use heat if you wish but regardless of whether you’re using ice or heat, it’s important to let your skin rest after 20 minutes by taking the pack off. And, if the pain continues, consult your doctor.
Don’t Stop Moving
As much as you might want to sit and relax and take the weight off your back, it’s important that you keep it moving. Continue carrying out your day-to-day chores like walking the dog, going to work or doing the cleaning. Then, once your back starts to ease up again, try aerobic exercises to help keep you mobile – walking, bicycling and swimming are ideal. Just listen to your body and make sure you don’t overdo it, especially if your back is still sore.
Strengthen Your Back
Once the back pain you’ve been experiencing has elevated, it’s a good idea to do some exercises that will help to build up the strength in your back. There are muscles that help to support your lower back and if you can build them up, they’ll help to improve your posture and align your spine. If you can also build up your abdominal, pelvic and hip muscles, this will help to strengthen your core, which will provide your back with even more support. Just avoid stomach crunches as these could strain your back again.
Do Some Stretches
If you’re sitting in a chair all day at work, try not to slump at it and make sure you’re getting up to stretch every 20 minutes. Because sitting at a desk involves bending forward a lot it’s important to bend backward to stretch your back out – and don’t forget to stretch your legs too. Routine exercises like yoga will help you to stretch as will regular physiotherapy sessions.
And if you are going to be sitting at a desk all day, try to design it to support your back as much as possible. Move your monitor so you don’t have to slouch forward to see it or reach too far for your mouse. Support your lower back with the correct chair and one that keeps your feet on the floor at all times.
If your work involves lifting things, always watch your posture and try to keep your back straight when doing this. Lift things by bending and stretching your knees rather than bending over from the waist. Finally, if you wear heels and you’ve got a bad back, try to reduce the heel height to less than an inch or to flat shoes if possible as your spine will be put under increased pressure when you wear heels.
Stop Smoking and Start Dieting
Other factors that can lead to problems with your back are smoking and being overweight. The risk of osteoporosis of the spine can be increased if you smoke and this, in turn, can lead to compression fractures. Equally, being overweight can put unnecessary stress on your back, which is why it’s important to exercise and diet to keep your weight within the healthy guidelines.
When you have pack pain that’s more severe and doesn’t start to ease off after a few days or you’re still in pain why you’re lying down or resting, you should call a doctor. This is also the case if you lose control of your bladder or bowels as this could be a sign that you have an underlying medical condition or nerve problem that needs urgent treatment.
Nicki Llewellyn is the founder of Bodyworks Edinburgh, a massage and physiotherapy clinic in Edinburgh, U.K. Founded in 2013, Nicki and his team set out to help clients improve muscular issues, sports performance and any injuries to bring them back to full health.