At-Home Tips to Alleviate Back Pain

Back pain is commonplace worldwide, and at the very least, is disruptive and frustrating. The good news is, for many types of back pain, relief can be found at home! But before moving forward, understand the nature of your back pain, and listen to your body-it knows best!  Consult a doctor as soon as possible, if you were recently injured, have severe pain, or can’t walk, stand or sit due to your back pain. If you are currently in the care of an orthopedic specialist or have been diagnosed with vertebral joint or disc issues, consult your doctor and perform any exercises discussed here with caution.

RICE: Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation

For minor injuries to soft tissues including muscles, tendons, and ligaments, following the  R.I.C.E. protocol at home, for several days to weeks, is sufficient.

  • Rest the affected muscles for several days after the injury. If possible, immediately stop performing any movements that are painful, and cease activities that involve those movements.
  • To decrease swelling, apply ice to the painful area for 15-20 min every 2-3 hours for one to two days after the injury.
  • Compress the affected area by wrapping it with a soft bandage, such as an ACE bandage, firmly, but not too tightly that it constricts blood flow to the area.
  • Elevating the area is also helpful for inflammation, but is not practical for back muscle injuries. Decompress the spine by laying down, or reclining.

Postural Adjustments

Poor posture is a leading cause of back and neck pain. Good posture helps to balance the weight of gravity evenly along the length of the spine. Here are some quick tips to fix your posture, and counteract the effects of poor posture:

  • Relax your shoulders down, away from your ears
  • Elongate your spine; imagine a string attached to the crown of your head is pulling it upward
  • Activate your back muscles, bringing your shoulder blades in towards each other, and opening your chest. Rounded shoulders and collapsed chest are hallmarks of poor posture; doing the opposite helps facilitate a healthy spine.
  • Keep head over shoulders and shoulders over pelvis (straight line): In a hunched over position, the shoulders are typically in front of the pelvis, which shortens the front muscles, and puts a lot of stress on the back to keep the body from falling forward. Front and back should be working equally to keep the body upright.

Stretching and Strengthening

Movement is also a great way to release tension and emotional stress! Sometimes back pain is actually due to short, tight muscles in the front of the body, such as the pectoralis major, and overstretched back muscles.In order to maintain good posture and prevent injury, it is essential the muscles of the body are strong enough to support the joints, and the joints are healthy enough to support movement. How you move or don’t move, matters. Regularly conditioning the body, through stretching and strengthening, is essential to its resilience. When stretching, be careful not to overstretch your muscles, ligaments, and tendons, by easing slowly into the stretch, and only going as far as is slightly uncomfortable. If it is painful, intense, or feels like something is tearing, immediately pull back a bit. When you feel a “good stretch”, hold the position for 2-3 deep breaths. If you are unsure, consult a professional.

Adjust Your Sleeping Habits

If you are waking up with back or neck pain, your pillow, bed, or sleeping position may be to blame. Unknowingly, the hours you spend in bed could be the source of your back pain. A therapeutic pillow and bed can help to keep your spine aligned while you sleep, and take the pressure off of your shoulders and hips. If you are a back or stomach sleeper, a bolster under your knees or ankles can help to relieve lower back pain. You may also want to try a pillow between your knees while you sleep on your side.

At-home remedies are helpful, but our back pain specialists can help diagnose and treat your pain. Schedule an appointment today.