Your back is a complex system of bones, joints, nerves, muscles and skin; which means it can be hard to determine what’s wrong when something doesn’t feel right. Typically, back pain occurs after long periods of sitting still, incorrectly lifting something, bending awkwardly, over-stretching, or overusing the muscles; which are how sportsmen and women end up with repetitive strain injury. However, there are a few things you can try to help relieve those shooting pains, dull aches or annoying twinges that seem to appear out of nowhere; here are ways to ease your lower back pain.
Alternate Heat And Ice Packs
Both heat and ice treatments are popular when dealing with back pain. They’re relatively inexpensive, easy to apply and have good results. There are many benefits to heat therapy; even taking a lovely, hot bath will help relax tired and strained muscles. The main ones are increased oxygen, spine stretching and sensory receptor stimulation in the skin.
Heat therapy will dilate blood vessels, sending more oxygen to the affected area and help to repair the damaged tissue. The warmth of the water, heat pad or pack will help to stretch the muscles and soft tissue of the spine; which decreases stiffness and gives you more flexibility and comfort.
Finally, the heat stimulates the skin; which in turn, helps to reduce pain signals sent from the brain and it should give you some respite although, be aware this is just temporary. Heat therapy is calm, relaxing, and can even be done on the move thanks to portable heat pads; as well as appealing to many people because heat therapies are non-invasive non-medication based treatments.
Get Some Well Earned Rest
If the last few months have been particularly hectic, you’ve been lifting heavy objects or been exercising too often then that constant ache could be your body’s way of telling you it needs rest. Try to limit your exercise, cut down on non-essential outings; and in severe cases, a few days off work may be necessary.
A couple of days in bed can give pulled muscles, injured tissue and even nerve endings time to heal. A comfortable mattress is the key to a decent night’s rest and pain-free sleep so it may be worth upgrading. Why not check out a Tempur mattress guide for more details? However, do make sure that you don’t stay in bed for too long and that you gradually start to build up your activity levels again; as prolonged unused can lead to muscles losing definition and becoming weak.
If you do go a long time without exercising; the next time you do some activity, you may run into problems. The muscles are now weaker; so you’re very susceptible to future episodes of back pain or even experience bad aches for prolonged periods.
Ask About Anti-Inflammatory Medication
There is a broad range of medication available to treat more severe cases of back pain caused by say a slipped disc, arthritis, or sciatica. It’s important that before you commence any medication to speak to your doctor as they may be able to suggest a better option or a more suitable medication treatment for your needs.
Typically back pain medication is given orally, topically or by injection. Unlike some topical medications, ointments that are applied directly to the skin, oral tablets are often prescription only and do carry their side effects and risks.
Topical treatments work by honing on the painful area and are intended to reduce that area alone; these are good for muscle or joint pain.
Unlike oral or topical treatments; injections can be injected at the source. These frequently contain steroids and anti-inflammatory medication; and depending on the type of back pain, can be long lasting or a short term solution. Due to their instantaneous nature; injections can also help to diagnose a back problem depending on how long it takes to work at the source.
Try Medical Strengthening Exercises
In some cases, back pain can be reduced by gentle exercise that’s aimed at strengthening both the muscles and the flexibility in your back. Before beginning any exercise program if you have a history of back problems make sure that you talk to your doctor to check that the activity level is suitable for your condition. If eligible, your doctor will then refer you to a spine expert such as a physical therapist, chiropractor, or physiatrist; who’ll devise a program tailored to your needs. They build a program around the core principles of stretching, toning, and aerobic conditioning that over time will help to strengthen the spine, building a stronger, healthier and more flexible back.
Ally Gonzales is the founder & editor-in-chief of RunningSoleGirl. Along with blogging she is also juggling attending college and majoring in Exercise and Sports Science with a Sports Management minor.