Most of us have dealt with back pain. The National Institutes of Health says that “back pain is one of the most common medical problems, affecting eight out of 10 people at some point during their lives.” Back pain is often the result of overworking; lifting, dragging, pulling, sitting and other adverse actions that cause aches and soreness. A chiropractor or massage therapist can help with minimal or minor pains. However, there are a few things you can do at home to help alleviate and control discomfort. Take time every day to be good to your body – it may only take five minutes to get a better back. Each of these strategies takes just one minute (and there are five!).
Stand and Sit Up Straight
Yes, your mother gave you sound advice when she told you to stop slouching! Be conscious of your posture. Sitting and standing for long periods of time can result in poor posture, leaving your back tired and strained. ClevelandClinic.com reports that bad posture can produce serious back pain and may cause CMP (chronic myofascial pain). When sitting, your thighs should be parallel to the floor, and your shoulders should rotate slightly backward. Post reminders on your computer or calendar (or schedule smartphone alerts!) to stand and sit up straight.
Do a quick stretch. Focus on targeting your back muscles, helping to stabilize your entire midsection. A simple stretch will decompress your spine and your lower back. Here’s an easy stretch to do while sitting; slowly bring your knees into your chest. Or do a yoga cat-cow pose: get on all fours, round your back upward while dropping your head to the floor and inhaling. Then look up and press your belly to the floor while exhaling.
Take a Walk
Get up and move. A 60-second walk can increase mobility and ease chronic back pain. Moving your joints increases blood flow to muscles and tendons, alleviating pain.
Check Your Chair
Sit in a chair that’s designed to minimize discomfort. If you have a sedentary job, sit ergonomically – feet flat on the floor, elbows and knees at a 90-degree angle, and place your computer monitor at eye level. If necessary, use a footrest to keep feet resting flat. Your chair should have a lumbar support and overall design that contours to your body. Good back support is conducive to your productivity as well as your overall health.
If you have chronic back pain, avoid sleeping on your stomach. Before going to sleep, take a moment to reconfigure your sleeping position. Minimize back pain by sleeping on your side or back. A pillow between your knees will support your back and spine. Relax, and take a deep breath before falling asleep.
It can be helpful to take control of our health and implement an exercise program that provides relief. Stay proactive and on top of your pain. But if it doesn’t subside, don’t wait; contact your health care professional.