Have you ever bent down to tie your shoe and experienced sudden, surprising back pain? Back pain is a common cause of pain and disability, and sometimes it seems to come from nowhere!
Luckily, there are ways to relieve back pain at home. We will go through 5 simple ways to relieve your back pain so that you can get back to doing what you love.
1. Find your preferred position
People with back pain often have a position that feels better than others. We usually break them down into FLEXED and EXTENDED positions. Flexed positions include lying on your back and pulling your hands to your knees, bending forward when sitting, or leaning over a counter. Extended positions increase the arch of your low back, such as when you are standing and leaning back or lying on your stomach.
Try out some of the positions below and see what feels good! Use your preferred positions to recover when you have new back pain that is very irritable. Try to space out aggravating activities by spending time in preferred positions!
Knee to chest
2. Use pillows to help you sleep
Nighttime can often bring the worst symptoms when you have back pain. It can be difficult to find a comfortable position which makes sleeping tricky.
By using pillows to support your back, you can relieve pain when lying down and get to sleep faster!
3. Keep your spine moving
Often, when someone’s back starts hurting, the first thing the body does is tighten the muscles surrounding the spine. It is our body’s way of trying to protect the painful area. When the muscles around the spine tighten, it reduces the movement available to the joints in the spine. However, in most cases, a painful back does not need to be braced, but gently moved with exercise.
If you keep your back moving, you can prevent a pain-spasm cycle of your back musculature (your muscles tighten because of pain, and they are painful because they are tight, so they spasm more, and so on).
Try out some of these exercises to keep your back moving! They should always be done within your tolerance.
4. Activate stabilizing muscles
Muscles that control your spine include the abdominals, paraspinals, gluteals, and hip flexors. If these muscles are strong and can activate properly, then your spine will have a better foundation to heal on. Your tolerance for more intense activity will also increase as your stability strength increases.
These exercises are a great starting point for someone with back pain!
McGill curl up
Hollow with leg lift
Side plank from knees
5. Break up stationary time
Research shows that one of the worst things you can do for a sore back is to stay in one position for a long time. If you have been sitting or lying down during the day for 30 minutes or more, try to take a movement break! You can go for a short walk or try some of the range of motion exercises from point number 3.
If you must stand in one spot for a prolonged period, try putting one foot on a stool or a ledge. You can also shift your weight from one foot to the other or march on the spot.
And that’s it! These 5 tips will help you decrease back pain at home, but one of the best ways to improve your symptoms is to see a physiotherapist. They can find the specific cause of your pain and will give you a program tailored specifically to you!
“Should I take medication for back pain?”
If any pain is persistent and changing your daily activities, it is a good idea to speak to a doctor or pharmacist about options for pain control.
“Doesn’t my back need rest to heal? Won’t exercising make it worse?”
Often, back pain is caused by different factors than other injuries, like ankle sprains or muscle strains. Unlike common muscle and ligament injuries, the cause of back pain is frequently related to stiff joints and muscle imbalances. If you don’t move or strengthen your muscles, then you won’t fix the problem! That is why seeing a physiotherapist is important. They are experts in finding stiffness and muscle imbalances and will get you started on a program to fix the cause of your pain.