Millions of Americans suffer from back pain at some point in their lives. In fact, it’s one of the most common medical conditions, and results in lost days at work, limited mobility, and can even impact things like your weight and your ability to get a good night’s rest. While some people immediately make an appointment with their primary care physician, or call a chiropractor, millions choose to do nothing but wait and hope that it goes away. There’s good news, though. You don’t have to suffer. There are several ways that you can help eliminate back pain at home. Below, we’ll discuss 10 ways that you can work toward less pain and better health.
If your back pain is due to an injury, applying ice can help alleviate pain and swelling. It’s best when applied within 24 to 48 hours of the initial injury, as this can reduce the inflammation. In these instances, avoid using heat. While heat can provide relief for certain types of back pain, it’s not the right option for inflammation, because it actually increases the amount of swelling in your tissues. Use ice for the first 48 hours, and then switch to heat if you prefer.
If your lower back is in pain, your first instinct is to get off your feet. However, that might be the wrong strategy to take. Studies show that this can actually lead to you experiencing more pain and even suffering from reduced mobility when you do get up and about. Instead, limit your bed rest to no more than three days, and then get up and get active. Like the rest of your body, your spine is designed to stay in motion.
“Stand up straight!” That’s a refrain most of us are familiar with from our childhoods. If only we’d taken that advice. A large percentage of people have poor posture when going about our everyday routines, and that can add up to a significant amount of stress and strain on your back and the muscles that support the spine. While you might have only recently experienced pain, chances are good that it’s been building up for years. Practicing good posture will help prevent strain, but it can also help to alleviate pain in your back right now.
Work Out Those Abs
No, you don’t have to go for a six-pack, but strengthening your core can provide a significant amount of benefit to your back. The muscles in the torso work together to support the upper body, and that includes your abs. By strengthening your core, you’re able to improve overall support and reduce pain and discomfort. Weak abdominal muscles actually put more strain on the lower back to support the rest of the body.
Adjust Your Sleeping Form
“Bad form” applies to more than just gymnasts and competitive swimmers. In fact, your form might be affecting your sleep, and adding strain to your lower back. If you’re a back sleeper, put a pillow under your knees to reduce stress and strain. If you’re a side sleeper, put a pillow between your knees. Try to avoid sleeping on your stomach, as this puts an immense amount of strain on your neck and shoulders, twisting them out of alignment. Not only will changing the way you sleep affect your back pain, but it will help improve the quality of your sleep, which leads to better overall health.
If you’re like most people, you spend a lot of time sitting down. Not only is this extremely damaging to your health, but it can lead to serious problems with your back. If you do sit for long periods and suffer from back pain, try getting up and walking around throughout the day. Spend 5 to 10 minutes per hour standing and walking, and you might be surprised at just how much better your back feels. If you sit throughout the day and haven’t started experiencing back pain yet, work on your posture and get up more often to prevent it from happening.
Ditch the Heels
Women who wear heels (particularly high heels) suffer from back pain more often than many other people. The source of your problem likely has nothing to do with your health and everything to do with your footwear. If you have to wear heels, wear low ones, although flats are a much better option. Anything under an inch in height can help you reduce your back pain.
Exercise and Drop the Weight
Obesity is a serious problem in America, and it’s not all related to blood pressure and heart disease. Too much weight puts a great deal of stress on your spine and back muscles. Losing as little as 10 pounds can make a significant difference in your back pain. Working your way closer to your ideal weight will improve the way you feel all over, as well – it’s not just about your back. Every joint in your body will feel better (and you’ll find that breathing is easier, your head is clearer, and you’re able to move more easily).
According to the Mayo Clinic, dehydration can have a dramatic effect on your back. In fact, it can increase the amount of back pain you experience. Cut back on the coffee and increase your water intake to ensure that you’re able to stay hydrated throughout the day. Avoid sports drinks, sodas and even “sparkling water”. Opt for clean, pure H2O.
Regular stretching can help to alleviate muscle tension, which can lead to back pain. Stretch multiple times per day, but remember – stretching should not hurt. If it hurts, stop.
While the tips mentioned above can help to alleviate back pain without requiring a trip to the doctor, sometimes the problem is deeper. In these instances, a visit to a chiropractor can ensure that you enjoy pain relief without the need for medication or surgery. Contact Advanced Chiropractic and Holistic Wellness Center to learn more about how Dr. Cohen can help you find relief and better health.