Most people experience back pain at one time or another in their lives. Regardless of when it occurs, back pain is a frustrating condition to deal with. Though you’ll want to have a doctor treat strong or sudden pain, there are some things you can do to mitigate day-to-day back pain. Whether your pain is the result of arthritis, an old injury, or just getting off the couch oddly, here are 5 things to try when your back is bothering you.
When your back aches with every movement, it’s tempting to lay down or move less to ease the pain. However, this can do more harm than good. Less movement means your back muscles have a chance to weaken, which means less support for your spine. Don’t try to overdo it with serious lifting or anything, but getting some walking in can help more than you may realize.
Proper posture is good for your lower back, because it can ease pressure there. If you need help keeping your posture, don’t be afraid to use tape, straps, or braces to do so. It may be difficult, but try not to slouch or push your chin forward. Most importantly, if you sit a lot, don’t forget to get up and take breaks. Short stretching or walking breaks can help you stay comfortable.
Core strength is important because it also helps support your back. Doing exercises and stretches to maintain that core strength can help relieve pain and prevent it in the long run. While morning stretching can help you prepare for your day, older adults may want to stretch in the afternoon after your body has naturally warmed up.
It’s difficult to prescribe one over the other because there are so many different causes of back pain. Generally, ice helps calm inflammation, while heat can ease muscle stiffness or tightness. However, everyone is different, so you may respond to one better than the other. Just remember to give your skin and muscles a break—be careful not to apply either for more than 20 minutes at a time. Finally, there are also a number of topical ointments for pain, such as IcyHot or Biofreeze. These may help, but should not be used with ice packs or heating pads. For specific advice on your ailment, always consult your doctor.
If your back still hurts when you sit or lay down, you can also try a physical support. Placing a pillow or rolled up towel behind your lower back when you sit can provide extra support. Additionally, you can place one under your pelvis when laying down. This may provide a gentle stretch and help relieve pain.