7 Tips on Managing Lower Back Pain [from someone whose back goes out more than she does] …

Do you regularly suffer from lower back pain even though you’re not a 90 year old man/woman. Regardless of the fact that you might not have a severe, chronic condition; your daily life is still quite often disrupted by your spine? Have you pretty much learnt how to live with a consistently tender back and,unless you’re physically incapacitated, no-one would really know about it? You mastered pain management like a freakin’ Jedi? If you’ve answered ‘yes’ to any of the above or you’re currently hunchbacked over your computer trying to find a solution, then this post goes out to you! Whether it’s because you have a weak back, a curved back, a herniated disk, strained muscles or good old sciatica … suffering from lower back troubles is a real pain in the ass (as well as the back). There are literally thousands of websites with great advice on how to manage back pains, nevertheless, below are things trialed and tested by yours truly to get through the rough days.

1. Move around where possible  

Despite the urge to want to curl up and die (even though curling up is not an option because your back is out), it is important to continue to move around and not allow for everything to shut down. This doesn’t mean breaking a sweat by doing sports, but simply walking around the house to try and keep it from blocking even more.

2. Special Stretches 

Just like moving around is not the first thing we want to do when our back is out, neither is stretching away the pain. On a bad day, the mere act of bending over even slightly shoots  pain up and down my legs and makes me feel like my ass could literally fall off at any second. Again, there is no need to bend it like Yoda but some simple stretches may help relieve some of the muscle spasms.

These are my 4 favorite stretches for pain relief:

1. Pigeon Pose    2. Downward facing dog      3. Cat and Cow Pose     4. Child’s Pose

(image sources: yogajournal.com – yogabasics.com – healthylife.werindia.com)

3. Combination of hot and cold 

The simple application of hot/cold packs can drastically reduce lower back pain and spur the healing process.

My hot water bottle has been my best friend for years!! Heat stimulates the blood flow and helps relax some of the muscles as well as inhibits pain messages being sent to the brain. Heat therapy can also be done by taking a hot bath or shower, using a heat patch or anything else that allows the area to warm up.

Applying a cold ice pack can act as a local anesthetic by slowing down nerve impulses, which keeps the nerves from spasming and causing pain. Cold also reduces inflammation which is often found in any kind of back pain. If your back issue is purely muscle based, a heat pack should do just fine. However if a recurring problem brings on the inflammation along with it, then alternating between the two can work wonders.

4. Medication combo

Just like combining hot and cold, medication can also help relieve some of the symptoms. I’m not a huge fan of popping the pills straight away, but I think an exception to the rule is warranted  when your husband finds you immobilized and crying in the bathtub like a 2 year old. When the pain gets that bad where it severely blocks your daily activities, taking a combination of anti-inflammatory and muscles relaxants (over the counter) can help you push through it a little better. As always, be mindful with alcohol consumption when taking meds.. the buzz might feel nice and free some of your movements; but you might get cocky with your new found freedom and pay for it in the morning.

5. Poop away the pain  

This is probably a major overshare, but man, does it work! So how can our bowel movements negatively affect our back, you ask? Well much like irregular bowel movement messes with pretty much all aspects of life, the position of our pelvis and the curvature of our spine are the two biggest factors in anything back pain-related. Even if we’re undergoing chiropractic or osteopathic treatments, our results can be hindered by a distended belly (gas).  Before rushing off to get our colons cleansed (which I hear is effective but not the sexiest procedure) there are a few things we can do more naturally to try and motivate some ‘movement’ down there. Drinking plenty of water is of course the number one recommendation (the general rule

of thumb is to divide your weight (kg) by 30 and that’s the amount of liters you should drink. So if you weigh 70 kg then your daily intake should be 2.3 l (including more water with physical exercise). Another aid for constipation, which I used on my daughter when she was constipated as a baby, is giving a visceral massage. Essentially you lie on your back and place your hands on your right hip. With some pressure slowly move your hands up towards your ribs, follow the rib cage to the left and move your hands back down, continuing this motion clockwise for about 3-5 minutes.

DIY Colon Cleanse Drink: 1/2 cup warm water, 1/2 tsp sea salt, 1/2 organic apple juice, 1 tsp ginger juice, 2 tbsp lemon juice. Warm up the water but don’t boil it, so you can still drink it. Add the sea salt and let it dissolve. After add the apple, ginger and lemon juice. Drink first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. Repeat at lunch and at dinner. 

6. Allow yourself to recover and rest 

I did suggest before to try and keep moving or stretch, but within the limitations your body sets for you. If your back is fully out and moving is a total nightmare, it’s also important to allow yourself to rest and let your muscles relax and the inflammation subdue on its own. Ask someone to help around the house, order take-out or let someone do the cooking and if you have little kids, ask someone to keep them for the day. Lie that very, sore butt down (because sitting usually hurts) and wallow in the memories of what it was once like to prance around the place, straight spine and everything..

7. Exercises to strengthen your back 

The muscles in your abs and back play a critical role in supporting your lower spine. Often, they don’t get a good enough workout during the course of a normal day, and they need to be specifically targeted through exercise.

If you’re a visual learner, like me, the below worksheet might help out. (I had trouble finding the original author as it has been widely shared online but this one was found in Pinterest through @jasmin_yoga) 25d407eaa13970544a7cbc14f91d10a0.jpg

 

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