Back pain relief: a guide to reducing lower back pain
According to the latest data, lower back pain is one of the most common reasons people miss work, and it’s also a leading cause of disability worldwide.
Over 80% of Americans will experience some back problems in their lives, especially after the age of 30.
Back pain can be caused by many reasons, from poor posture and lifting heavy objects to improper form when exercising or even gardening. Sometimes all it takes is a single bend, and your back can give out.
Thankfully there are a lot of different treatments available and ways to reduce lower back pain and protect your spine and core muscles and ligaments.
What is lower back pain?
Low back pain is usually a result of a physical injury, a muscle sprain, or a ligament strain that’s been caused by a sudden movement or improper form when lifting heavy items. There are quite a few more causes of back pain, which we’ll explore later.
How long does back pain last?
Back pain can last from a couple of days up to a few weeks, and in the cases of chronic back pain, the duration extends to months or even years.
According to surveys, individuals between the ages of 30 and 50 are the ones that are affected more often by back pain problems. Back pain can undoubtedly plague children and elderly people too, but it’s a more rare phenomenon.
Back pain causes
It’s not always easy to identify the cause of back pain, and thankfully in most cases, it’s nothing serious, but there are times that you need to take action and undergo a specific treatment.
The causes of back pain include but are not limited to:
- Muscle strains
- Ligament sprains
- Pinched nerves
- Spinal stenosis
- Sudden movement
- Carrying too heavy objects
- Kidney stones
- Broken bones
- Bulging and ruptured disks
10 ways to relieve low back pain
Read on on to discover 10 ways to help alleviate back pain and strengthen your lower back muscles.
1) Proper sleeping position
Yes, you read it right; you can have poor posture even when sleeping. To soothe back pain, it is advised to sleep on your side, place a pillow between your knees to keep your spine in a neutral position and don’t put any unnecessary pressure on your back.
Another recommended sleeping position is to lie on your back and place a pillow (or a folded blanket) under your knees so that your legs are bent a little and lifted. Again, this alleviates pressure from your back and spine.
2) Increase calcium intake
Calcium helps build strong bones and prevent osteoporosis, which is one of the most common causes of back pain, particularly for women. You should try to incorporate calcium-rich foods in your daily diet:
- Soya milk with added calcium
- Leafy greens
3) Maintain correct posture
Poor posture is another cause of lower back pain. Good posture isn’t just about looking more proper; it protects your muscles and ligaments from injuries and strains.
Most of us spend the largest part of our day sitting at a desk in front of a computer and forget all about good posture, which results in us slouching and slumping over the desk. Poor sitting posture strains the back and the spine and can cause back pain.
Make sure to sit up straight when sitting down, don’t slouch, and don’t round your shoulders. Pick an ergonomic chair that provides good lumbar support and ensure your knees rest a little higher than your hips when sitting.
4) Consume anti-inflammatory drinks and foods
Anti-inflammatory foods and drinks have been found to positively affect back pain problems as they build up anti-inflammatory agents in your blood that fight off inflammatory reactions in the body:
- Turmeric milk
- Tart cherry juice
- Ginger tea
- Green tea
- Fatty fish
- Extra virgin olive oil
5) Get enough sleep
We lead stressful and hectic lives, which leads to disturbed sleep, and more often than not, we end up not getting enough sleep every night. Sleep is a restorative function of our bodies in order to heal themselves up. You need to aim for 6 to 8 hours of sleep every night to give your body enough time to recover and release the tension it has built up over the course of the day.
6) Core exercises
Another common cause of low back pain is weak core and back muscles that can’t support a full range of body motion. The muscles in your lower back and your abdominal area play an important role in supporting and protecting your spine and back from injuries and sprains. To strengthen your back and core muscles, try to incorporate a few of the exercises listed below in your workout routine:
- Lying lateral leg raises
- Pelvic thrusts
- Russian twists
- Ab crunches
- Back extensions
- Lying leg raises
Even if you can’t perform any of the aforementioned exercises, any aerobic or freestyle exercise will do wonders, not just for your lower back but for your entire body, and physical and mental wellness.
7) Stretch Often
Regular movement and stretching can help soothe back pain because it relaxes overworked and stiff muscles and helps improve circulation, which nourishes the spine.
Set a reminder to stretch for 5 minutes for every one hour you spend sitting. Just stand up and perform some basic stretches for 5 minutes. You can easily do that even if you’re in the office, at a restaurant, or anywhere else.
8) Wear orthopedic shoes
Proper footwear can go a long way to improving your overall posture and reduce the risks of suffering from lower back pain. Avoid unsupportive shoes like flip flops and high heels (although occasionally wearing them won’t cause any problems).
Another really practical solution is to buy a pair of orthopedic insoles and insert them in your shoes so you won’t have to worry about finding orthopedic shoes (which are quite expensive) or missing out on wearing your favorite pair of shoes!
9) Get a proper mattress
Sleeping on the wrong mattress can cause lower back pain, breathing issues, and disrupt your sleep. Stomach and back sleepers should opt for firmer mattresses, while individuals who sleep on their sides should opt for a softer mattress to avoid putting pressure on the spine and back.
Try not to cheap out when buying a new mattress, and don’t sleep on old mattresses that have been in your family for years or even generations; they can hurt your muscles and ligaments. Mattresses should be firm enough evenly throughout their surface to provide back support. If you’re in doubt, pick a medium-firm mattress - you can’t go wrong as long as you purchase it from a quality and established mattress supplier.
10) Stay active
People who suffer from back pain tend to avoid moving because it hurts and is uncomfortable, but staying still for prolonged periods is not recommended. It would help if you stay active, move around, and make your muscles work to heal faster and improve circulation. Of course, you need to avoid strenuous activities or lifting heavy objects, but other than that, keeping on the move can help alleviate back pain in the long run.