Even if you don't have time to visit a doctor today, you can feel better tonight.
Let’s face it... we all have aches and pains from time to time. And back pain, especially lower back pain, seems to be one of the top reasons we seek a medical consultation. In fact, according to the Mayo Clinic, approximately 80% of all Americans will have low back pain at least once in their lives.
But medical experts also agree that most back pain is caused by lifestyle. Things like stress, improper posture, bad sleeping habits or poor ergonomics in the work place are the major causes of back pain outside of direct injury.
That’s good news, because it means that, generally speaking, back pain isn’t serious, and can be treated conservatively.
In case you wondering... “conservatively”, I recently found out, is a fancy way of saying, “without medication.”
So to sum up here, there are things you can do all by yourself to ease your pain and prevent future problems.
1. Stretch it out
Low back pain is often caused by tightness in the large muscles of the lower body. Hamstrings, quads and hip flexors can all shorten over time without regular stretching. And this shortening can lead to intense lower back pain. The easiest remedy is to stretch — daily. Regular stretching can relieve tension and spasm, plus it just plain feels good, don’t you think? Stay limber — and feel younger, longer — with a daily routine of stretches. There are some suggestions below, or check out How to Create a Daily Stretching Routine at eHow.com. (Always check with your doctor before beginning any fitness program.)
2. Take your vitamins
You can help reduce chronic pain by getting enough of essential B vitamins. B vitamins help support your central nervous system, boost your immune system, and help your body heal after injury or illness. You might also try adding a dose of omega-3 fatty acids to your diet. Omega-3's are known to possess anti-inflammatory properties that can help eliminate the inflammation that leads to pain. Seafood, eggs and milk are naturally high in omega-3s. And vitamin B can be found in foods like bananas, potatoes, avocados and legumes, as well as nuts and turkey.
This sounds like a no brainer, I know, but it’s almost impossible to do anything without using your back. And when your muscles are strained, you need to allow them to rest and recover. The best position for an injured or achy back is lying down on either your back or side, with the curves of your spine aligned in their natural position. Try lying down on a firm surface like a carpeted floor. You can relax your back by placing a couple of pillows or a chair under your knees. If on your side, place the pillows between the knees instead of under them. For your neck's comfort, roll up a small hand towel and place it under your neck to give it a break, too.
4. Ice, ice, baby
Another no brainer... A simple ice pack can go a long way to relieving back pain.
Immediately after an injury, blood rushes to the damaged area. And even though swelling is part of the body's normal healing process, too much inflammation can increase pain and lengthen your recovery time. So ice is the appropriate thing to do. Applying ice immediately after a strain reduces the amount of inflammation and speeds up the healing process. The general rule is ice for the first 48 hours after injury, then heat. But ice can combat pain at any time, not just after injury. (Why do you think all those football and baseball players are sporting ice packs post-game, huh?) Ice numbs pain. Yes, it’s temporary. But sometimes temporary relief will get you through the day, right? But remember to use ice wisely, because incorrect application of ice can damage the skin. To do it right, dip a warm towel or pillowcase in slightly hot water, wring out the excess, and quickly place an ice pack, ice cubes, or crushed ice in it. Immediately place the towel or pillowcase over the strained area of the back for about 12 to 15 minutes. Repeat several time a day, if needed.
5. Give it a rub down
You could go see a massage therapist, and shell out big bucks for a massage. I’m not saying it wouldn’t make your back feel better, but how would your wallet feel? So why not make your own massage tool and DIY a relaxing massage right in your own home? Simply grab two tennis balls and a long tube sock, then stick the two tennis balls (they don’t have to be new) in the end of the sock and tie the ends tightly. Sandwich the tennis balls between your back and a wall or headboard and rub them against the sore areas. Or you can also lie down on the floor with the tennis balls beneath you and roll your knots out that way. Via Yahoo! Green
All of the above are great suggestions for easing back pain naturally. But, as my old granny would say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. So take stock of your surroundings and re-evaluate your stress level if you’re having back pain issues. It could be that a small adjustment in your attitude, your sleeping habits or your work station set-up could relieve your discomfort all together.