Back pain relief is only successful after pinpointing the direct cause of the discomfort. Millions of Americans suffer from back pain after performing simple, everyday tasks. While you can start healing back pain without knowing the cause, your efforts will be wasted. Ice packs and heating pads are temporary fixes for a much more serious condition.
Lower and upper back pain stems from various causes, like pulling a muscle, tearing a ligament or having poor posture. The pain can be sudden or chronic; the type of treatment one pursues depends on whether the pain has been ongoing or came on suddenly.
There isn’t one cure for back pain that fits everyone. Some individuals find relief in stretching while others feel better after resting. The best back pain relief comes when individuals identify the type of pain they are feeling. Continue reading the sections below to learn more about how to relieve back pain.
Exercises to Relieve Back Pain
There are hundreds of back pain relief exercises that target various parts of the body. The first step is to root out the cause of the pain. Certain types of back injuries can be worsened by performing exercises or stretches, so it is always best to consult with a doctor before attempting any physical activity.
Lower Back Pain Relief Exercises
If you are suffering from lower back pain, it is best to keep moving. Resting may make the muscles tighten up, causing more pain and stiffness. Exercises for lower back pain target the legs, stomach and back to support the spine.
- Hamstring stretches: Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Raise one leg straight in the air and loop a towel around the ball of your foot. Slowly pull back on the towel to feel a stretch down your hamstring. Repeat with the other leg.
- Bird dog pose: Start on your hands and knees and tighten your stomach muscles. Lift one leg and extend it behind you, keeping your hips level. Hold the pose for five seconds, then switch to the other leg.
- Bridges: Lie on your back with your knees bent and your heels on the floor. Dig your heels into the floor, squeeze your buttocks and lift your hips. Your shoulders, knees and hips should make a straight line. Hold the pose for six seconds, then lower your hips back down for a rest.
- Back flexion stretch: Lie on your back and bring both knees to your chest. At the same time, flex your head forward until you feel a comfortable stretch down your back.
Upper Back Pain Relief Exercises
Upper back pain can affect your shoulders, neck and head. As such, many exercises and stretches target these areas to strengthen the muscles and provide support.
- Chair twists: Sit in a chair and face sideways so your right side is pressed against the back of the chair. Keep your legs still as you rotate your torso to the right, reaching for the back of the chair. Hold the position for 10 seconds, then slowly return to a sitting position.
- Overhead arm stretches: Sit in a chair and face forward with your feet on the ground. Extend your right arm over your head and reach over to your left. Bend your upper body and slowly return to the starting position.
- Shoulder rolls: Stand with your arms at your sides. Slowly roll your shoulders backwards in a circular motion. After a few repetitions, roll your shoulders forward in the same fashion.
Learn About Remedies for Back Pain Relief
There is more to healing back pain than just exercises and stretches. Many tried-and-true remedies have been shown to help soothe sore backs and loosen the muscles in surrounding areas. As always, it is important to consult a professional before treating back pain to avoid injuries.
You can find upper, mid and lower back pain relief in applying ice to the area. Cold packs reduce inflammation, which frequently accompanies back pain. Cold compresses also slow down nerve impulses, reducing painful nerve spasms.
Heat is a great cure for back pain as well, as it stimulates blood flow to bring pain-relieving nutrients to the affected area. Applying heat also stops the body from sending pain messages to the brain, which slowly helps the pain go away.
Many doctors recommend alternating ice and heat for the quickest and most effective at-home remedy. After a few moments of using an ice pack, a bag of frozen vegetables or cold compress, switch to a heat source. This can be a heating pad, hot water bottle or microwavable compress.
Back decompression is a viable option for those suffering from unrelenting lower back pain and sciatica. Spinal doctors help patients into a motorized traction machine which gently stretches the spine. Decompression is usually only recommended by a doctor after trying other remedies for relief.
How to Prevent Back Injuries
Back pain relief isn’t necessary if the pain itself never occurs! You can take vital steps to strengthen your muscles and prevent back injuries. You may not even realize that you are at risk of a back injury until you understand the common causes.
One of the easiest ways to prevent a back injury is to keep good posture. Sitting at a desk all day or slouching over a smartphone puts unnecessary strain on your back, shoulders and neck. Be mindful of how you are sitting.
Similarly, if you are sitting down for long periods throughout the day, take a few walking breaks. Get up, stretch your shoulders and go for a brisk walk. Your muscles will get a much-needed break from being in the same position.
If your job involves heavy lifting or moving bulky objects, it is important to learn how to lift properly. Improper lifting is one of the most common causes of back injuries. Before picking up a heavy object, bend your knees and lift with your legs, not your back. Carry it close to your body to avoid arching in awkward positions.