Once I developed back pain so severe that I could barely get in and out of the car. It hurt for me to change positions while I slept. Needless to say, I was miserable.
My doctor recommended physical therapy sessions. They worked. For a few days. And then I’d have to go back again to make the pain disappear. Taking pain medication was out of the question for me. I thought, “I’m only in my 30s. I can’t be having physical therapy sessions once a week for the rest of my life.”
Fortunately, I didn’t have to.
If you suffer from back pain, there are non-medical options you can explore to get immediate and, sometimes, long-lasting relief.
Remember, talk to your physical therapist and/or doctor about your back pain to make sure it’s nothing serious, and to clarify what you should and should not be doing.
It’s not a very spectacular remedy, but it’s astonishing how poor posture can affect back pain. Here are some good posture tips:
- When you stand, tuck in your tummy and your rear. This takes the stress off your lower back.
- When sitting, keep shoulders relaxed and slightly pulled back.
- Imagine the top of your head being pulled up to the ceiling. This stretches your neck and spine and takes the weight off of sore spots.
- When walking, keep your head up and your shoulders back. Tuck your chin in slightly.
2. Your Bed
Make some adjustments to your sleeping quarters. Try sleeping on your side with a pillow between your knees (this is the only way I sleep now), or try a firmer sleeping surface if you have a soft one now (and vice versa). You can add foam toppers and other additions without having to buy a new mattress. But if it’s in your budget, a new mattress may be just the thing.
3. Move and Stretch
Sometimes, lying down helps the pain pass; other times, it can make it worse. Some kinds of back pain result from weak muscles (more on that next). So when the pain comes on, consider trying some gentle stretching or going for a nice walk. I like to do the child’s pose (yoga), or stand in front of a wall, bend from my waist, and push my hands against the wall. Ahhhh, feels so good!
4. Strengthen Core Muscles
Exercising isn’t just for relieving back pain when it starts. Regular exercise is helpful for keeping it at bay in general. Strengthening the core muscle groups is key, because these muscles hold your skeleton – including your spine – in alignment. Walking, water aerobics, and swimming are good ideas. Experts agree strenuous exercise that strains certain muscle groups – like weeding the garden or doing heavy lifting – are to be avoided.
5. Maintain a Healthy Weight
Excess weight can wreak havoc on your back. It pulls your spine out of alignment and strains muscles, all day. Check with a nutritionist, personal trainer, or other professional to help you choose the proper exercise and diet, and shed extra pounds.
Sometimes, it just takes something small like a changed habit or a new exercise routine to relieve nagging back pain.
In my case, I began doing Pilates and after a couple of weeks, my back pain had completely disappeared. No more physical therapy, no more pain.
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