Back pain can occur for a variety of different reasons, from lifting something heavy to spending too much time hunched over a desk. Something as simple as bending down can cause your back to give out, causing pain for several days, weeks, or even longer. Fortunately, there are several natural methods you can try that would allow you to treat your back pain on your own. Although in some cases professional help is required, in many cases a few simple tricks may be all it takes to get you back to your old self again. Here are 5 ways to help your back pain before seeing a physiotherapist.
1. Improving your posture
Like many of the methods listed below, improving your posture will both ease back pain and help prevent it altogether. This can be done in a variety of ways. For example, when you’re standing or walking, make sure that your body is in a comfortable position and that you’re not hunched over. Similarly, when sitting down, make sure your back is straight and not curved. If you’re sitting at a desk, make sure everything you’re using, whether it’s a keyboard, mouse, or coffee mug, is within a comfortable distance so you don’t have to reach for anything. Even something as simple as raising your rear-view mirror in your car, so that your back has to be straight for you to properly use it, can help remind you to sit up straight and can make a difference for this day-to-day cause of back pain.
Stretching takes improving your posture one step further and allows you to take an active role in making sure your back stays mobile and is not stuck in one position. Simply getting up from your chair and walking around every few minutes can do wonders for back pain caused by sitting at a desk all day. Yoga positions such as Upward Facing Dog, done by lying on your stomach and raising your upper body up with your hands to arch your back, are great for easing tension and keeping your body loose. Such positions are easily found online and a few minutes going through a few of them will make a noticeable difference on discomfort caused by staying in one place for too long.
3. Soothing pain with cold and heat
This method is very effective for back pain caused by an injury or a sprain. Ice works great to relieve pain and reduce swelling during the first couple days of the aggravation and can be applied as frequently as necessary for up to 20 minutes at a time. After about 48 hours, switch from ice to moist heat to stimulate blood flow and help the area heal. Dip a towel in warm water and lay it onto the painful area for up to 20 minutes. This can be done three or four times a day for as many days as you feel it is helpful or as long as the pain persists.
Similar to using a hot towel, massages can help stimulate blood flow and can help ease tension. Have a partner massage the aching area and try to work out some of the knots that may be causing discomfort, either by hand or with an aid, such as tennis balls stuffed in a long sock. Creams and ointments can also be used, but it’s best to consult with a physiotherapist to make sure they will not cause skin irritation. Although going to see a trained massage professional will yield better results, a massage from someone close to you may prove beneficial as well.
Although this may be a surprise to some, exercising can actually improve back pain. While you may want nothing more than to lie down and take it easy, it is important to keep moving, of course taking care not to injure the area further. Avoid using a brace or other support devices for more than 15 minutes at a time because if they are used excessively, they could weaken your core, which is vital for providing stability. If your core is weak, your body compensates by using other areas of your body to maintain its balance and perform tasks. A strong core, on the other hand, can reduce the strain on the back and reduce the chances of back injuries. This is why it’s important to stay active in moderation, even when experiencing back pain and to work on strengthening your core when you’re healthy.
These 5 methods can help you naturally prevent and relieve back pain, but they are not a substitute for professional assistance if the pain persists or is severe. If after trying these techniques you’re not happy with the results, a physiotherapist would be your best next step to seeking a cure for back pain.