Tips to Relieve Back Pain
Does your back seem to bother you all the time? If so, you’re not alone. The American Physical Therapy Association estimates that approximately 67% of Americans experience lower back pain, although nearly half of these people do not seek professional help. For too long, the self-treatment method for back pain has been to “take a few ibuprofen” or “sleep it off.” Unfortunately, these are only short-term fixes.
If you go through life with chronic back pain, it’s time to take charge and make changes. Failing to address your back pain will only cause the problem to get worse as time goes on. Your back pain is not going to disappear one day magically. Fortunately, this guide/tips to relieve back pain should be able to help you find relief.
Back Pain in America
Back pain is an epidemic in America that does not get nearly the attention it deserves. According to the Institute of Medicine, over 100 million Americans suffer from chronic back pain, which is considered any pain that lasts for more than three months. Additionally, studies indicate that eight out of every ten people will experience back pain at some point in their lives.
Chronic back pain costs Americans over $600 billion in medical treatments annually. These numbers may seem staggering, but they make sense once you consider that back pain is the second-most common reason that Americans visit the doctor. The first, for those curious, is upper-respiratory infections.
Furthermore, the above figure does not take into account lost wages, as back pain is one of the most common reasons why Americans miss work. More than a third of adults have indicated that their back pain has disrupted their ability to engage in everyday tasks such as living, working, exercising, and sleeping.
What’s likely most frustrating for many is that they cannot figure out the causes of their back pain.
Most back pain does not come as a result of a severe condition, such as:
- Inflammatory Arthritis
Failing to address your lower back pain can cause numerous problems in the future. In fact, the Global Burden of Disease found that single leading cause of disability globally is the lower back pain. Your back pain has the potential to be something much worse than mild discomfort.
Guide/Tips to Relieve Back Pain
To protect your health both now and in the future, consider implementing some of this guide/tips to relieve back pain found below.
The muscles that make up the back are very complicated. And, our muscles are very much intertwined, meaning that your back pain could be because of tight muscles elsewhere in your body, such as your hips. Stretching every day is one of the best tips to relieve back pain. We recommend whole-body stretching or trying an activity like yoga to activate muscle groups that have become stiff.
Remember to be wary of your limitations when stretching. Overstretching can lead to muscle strains, which can be incredibly painful. Know your limits. Stretching is a process that takes time, and you will not see results overnight. However, exhibiting patience and diligence when stretching could go a long way toward helping relieve your lower back pain.
Numerous stretches target the back. Advanced Pain Management has provided the following few back stretches. One of the most effective stretches for back pain is the “Knee to Chest,” which can help realign your pelvis while stretching your lower back and glutes. Begin by lying on your back with your toes pointed upward. Bend one knee and pull it to your chest. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat twice.
Another beneficial stretch for the back is the “Restful Pose.” Begin on all fours, with your knees just outside of your hips. Bring your toes together so that your legs are in a V-shape. Sink your hips backward, which should prompt your knees to bend. Then, extend your arms over your head to help elongate the spine. Hold for 20 seconds and then return to your relaxed starting position.
Many people also find that the “Lying Knee Twist” is helpful for reducing back pain. To perform this stretch, begin by lying on your back with your legs extended straight. Then, bend one knee and cross it over the opposite side of your body. You should feel this stretch through your lower back and your glutes. Hold for anywhere between 20 and 30 seconds, and then switch sides.
Change Your Sleeping Habits
Of our tips to relieve back pain, this is one of the more difficult ones to implement, but it could also help you see the most significant results. It’s tough to apply because it’s hard to control. You have likely slept the same way for years, and it’s difficult for your body to make a change when are you not conscious. However, finding a better sleeping position is worthwhile in helping reduce symptoms.
Sleeping with back pain is a vicious cycle for many Americans. Your body needs adequate rest for it to heal itself. If you have suffered an injury or exhibit signs of inflammation, your body will work to fight against them while sleeping. But many who suffer from back pain do not get good sleep, as their pain wakes them up every night. When they wake up, their body can no longer work to heal their pain.
Certain sleeping positions put additional stress on your back. One of the worst ways you can sleep is on your stomach. When you sleep on your stomach, the natural curve of your spine is flattened. This can drive your hips forward and lock your body into a position known as anterior pelvic tilt, which has long been associated with back pain.
Other Sleeping Habits
Also, sleeping on your stomach forces you to keep your neck rotated, either to the left or the right, throughout the night. This often results in upper back pain in the shoulders area. If you tend to sleep on your stomach, you should put a pillow beneath your lower abdomen. This will lift your pelvis to relieve the tension on your back.
If you sleep on your back, you too may want to reconsider your sleeping position. Sleeping on your back can lift your neck, causing your head to come forward similar to the posture seen by those who work at a desk all day. If you sleep on your back, try placing a pillow under your knees. This too can help your spine maintain its natural curve, which can help relieve back pain.
The best position to sleep in at night, however, is on your side. Side sleepers are most likely to maintain the natural curve of their spine. If you are a side sleeper who still suffers from back pain, consider placing a pillow between your knees. This can help keep your spine in a neutral position, which could then relieve the pain in your back.
Evaluate Your Posture
As more and more Americans work at desks and spend time looking at their smartphones, our posture has become increasingly worse. We slouch now more than ever before, which is awful for our spines. Poor posture has been proven to make back pain worse, especially when you stay in one position for an extended period.
Be cautious to not slump forward throughout the day. Instead, sit upright in your chair and let your shoulders relax. This should allow the back of the chair to act as your support system. If there is space between the chair and your lower back, you may find it worthwhile to put a pillow or towel in between the two for extra support. Lastly, keep your feet flat on the floor.
If posture is a significant problem for you, consider setting alarms throughout the day so that you can periodically check in. When the alarm goes off, take a look at your posture. Are you upright and tall? If not, correct the issue immediately. As time goes on, you should become more comfortable in this position and should not have to make such a conscious effort to stay there.
One study found that massages were beneficial for reducing chronic back pain. The study indicated that massages were a better treatment option for back pain than medications. That’s likely because hands-on therapy stimulates blood flow to the area, which then helps with the healing process.
Additionally, the study discovered that the effects of receiving weekly massages for ten weeks lasted for more than six months. Participants were subject to both structural massage and relaxation massages. However, the type of massage that they received did not matter. Both reported feeling significantly better than the control group, who indicated that their back pain had gotten worse.
If this sounds like an attractive option, but you are worried about the cost of weekly massages, contact your local massage therapist to see if you can work out a deal. If not, you can use at-home techniques like foam rollers and massage chairs to promote blood stimulation through the area.