Living with back pain is exhausting and can interfere with your work, family, and social life. Pain affects your mood and can keep you from performing everyday tasks.
Taking care of your back is crucial for your overall health and wellbeing. There are many things you can do to improve and even prevent back problems.
If you suffer from back pain, adopting some healthier habits can help support the small of your back and save you from unnecessary suffering. Take a look at 15 tips you can use to support your back.
1. Watch Your Weight
Maintaining a healthy weight is key to good back health. Excessive weight increases your risks for many health problems, including back pain.
Weight around the spine or belly puts excess pressure on the muscles, ligaments, and tendons, around your lower back. This causes your muscles to strain and tighten up.
If you're overweight, losing some weight may decrease your back problems or eliminate them completely. Find some ways to add physical activity into your day. Even taking a short walk is a good start.
Eat healthier and include more lean protein and fruits and vegetables in your diet. Small changes over time lead to a healthier lifestyle, lower body weight, and a better quality of life. If you need help losing weight, consult your doctor or a nutritionist.
2. Stretch Every Day
Stress and lack of exercise can tighten your muscles and lead to back pain. Stretching each day is great for your joints and your range of motion.
Try to stretch for a few minutes several times a day. Stretching gets your blood flowing and promotes the release of healthy endorphins.
Start with gentle stretches and build up from there. Stretching on a regular basis reduces your risk of injury and promotes good spinal health.
3. Strengthen Core Muscles
Your core muscles in your lower back and abdomen are critical for a healthy spine. These muscles need to be strong to support your spine and ease pressure on your lower back.
Most people don't use their core muscles very often in their everyday activities. If you sit for long periods of time at work or at home, these muscles can weaken and lead to back strain.
It's important to exercise to strengthen your core muscles. A strong core can prevent backache, improve physical performance, and lead to better overall health.
4. Get a Good Night's Sleep
As you sleep, your body repairs itself. This is good for your spine and your overall health. While you rest, your spine relaxes and rejuvenates.
If you're experiencing back pain, try sleeping on your side rather than your stomach. Sleeping on your stomach puts pressure on your spine. Sleeping on your side reduces this pressure and promotes better breathing for a better night's sleep.
Some tips for sleeping include:
- Invest in a firm or medium-firm mattress. A soft or sagging mattress offers little support and can make back pain worse. Choose a mattress with the proper support for your condition.
- Rest with your spine aligned. Back sleepers can use a pillow under their knees. Side sleepers can use a pillow between their knees. This helps to keep the hips in balance during the night.
- Some people benefit from neck pillows that support the cervical spine.
5. Wear the Right Shoes
You may not think about it, but your shoes play a key role in supporting your back. Good shoes provide support and help the spine and body align.
A well-fitting shoe should have a supportive base and be snug at the heel but not tight. Your shoes should not be too wide or narrow for your feet.
Working or walking all day in shoes that don't fit is a strain on your feet, legs, and back. Whether they're for walking, exercise, or everyday use, invest in shoes that fit and feel good on your feet.
Shoe inserts or orthotics can add comfort and stability to your shoes if you need more support.
6. Sit Tall
When you slouch or sit awkwardly, your spine is not aligned. When this becomes a habit, it leads to back strain and pain.
If possible, adjust the height of your chair so your feet sit flat on the floor and your knees are slightly higher than your hips. A supportive lumbar pillow or chair cushion may be helpful.
Avoid sitting too much! If you must sit for long periods of time at work, try to get up and take a short walk or stretch throughout the day.
7. Lift With Your Legs
Back strain is a common injury. If you must lift something heavy, avoid leaning forward and lifting from your waist.
Instead, use your core muscles to help you lift. Bend at your knees and use the power in your legs to help you lift.
If an object is too heavy, don't attempt to lift it. Asking for help can save you from back strain or injury.
8. Choose Pillow Support for the Small of Your Back
If you suffer from back pain, the right pillow can make a big difference. A supportive pillow can help you sleep better and wake up more refreshed.
If your pillow is too high when you sleep on your back or side, your neck bends forward or to the side. A pillow that's too low is also a poor choice. Both can lead to muscle strain in your neck or shoulders.
Your neck naturally curves forward to sustain the weight of your head when it's upright. It's important to maintain this natural curve while you rest as well.
An Orthopedic pillow may help your neck maintain a more natural position. These types of support pillows are a helpful solution for many people with back and neck problems.
9. Stay Hydrated
Proper hydration helps you maintain elasticity and fluidity in your joints. When you become dehydrated, you're more prone to injury, including ruptured or herniated disks.
Remember to sip water or other healthy fluids throughout the day. If you are busy and tend to forget to drink, try keeping a water bottle or thermos near you or on your desk to help you remember.
If your body is experiencing dehydration, so is your spine. It cannot function optimally without proper nutrition and hydration.
10. Work Smarter
If you're like most people, you spend a large portion of your life at work. If your work requires you to sit behind a desk, take the time to make it functional for your health.
Choose a chair that provides support for your back and upper body. An office chair with the proper ergonomics helps to reduce stress on your back and neck. This can help prevent conditions such as stiffness, headaches, carpal tunnel syndrome, and sciatica.
Try placing a lumbar pillow or rolled towel behind your lower back. Try to get up often or even stand as you work for part of the day. Instead of talking on the phone while you sit, get up and walk around.
Staying in one position for too long is terrible for your back. Giving your body and your mind a break during the day is good for your back, your body, and your mental health.
11. Enjoy a Massage
A good massage can do wonders for aching muscles. A back massage has therapeutic benefits, including increasing blood flow, easing tension, and soothing sore, tight muscles.
A professional moderate-level massage may help ease your back pain and lower your stress levels, especially if you get a massage on a regular basis. If you can't afford or don't have access to a massage therapist, a massage chair is the next best thing.
It's an inexpensive way to get some of the same therapeutic benefits of an actual massage.
12. Try Aquatic Therapy
Physical therapists recommend aquatic therapy for people with chronic back pain. The water's buoyancy relieves the strain on joints and muscles.
Gentle exercise in water can strengthen and tone muscles. Soaking or floating in warm water relaxes your muscles, reduces tension. and increases circulation in the body.
If you have a whirlpool tub at home, use the jets for a relaxing underwater back massage.
13. Stay Active
A sedentary lifestyle increases your risk of low back pain. When you're not active, your muscles become weak and are more prone to injury.
Find activities that you enjoy. Whether it's walking, biking, swimming, or playing outside with your kids, try to do it on a regular basis for your health.
If you enjoy going to the gym, a personal trainer can design a workout plan for your specific needs.
See what classes your local gym offers. Low impact aerobics and gentle yoga are good choices for those with back pain.
Aerobic activity gets your body moving while yoga focuses on stretching and relaxation. It helps to relax your muscles and reduce pain perception.
Any activity that combines aerobic activity, stretching, and strengthening is good for your back and neck. If you have chronic back pain, talk to your doctor before trying a new exercise routine.
14. Practice Good Posture
Poor posture can lead to back and neck pain, digestive issues, and sleeping problems. Slouching is a habit people often develop early in life and can be hard to break.
You have to be aware of your posture while you sit, stand, and even sleep to correct the issue. Sleeping on your stomach puts a strain on your spine and can affect your breathing and your posture.
It's better to sleep on your side with a pillow between your legs. This helps align and support your spine during the night.
Exercise is important for proper posture and back health. Yoga and Pilates are good practices to try if you're hoping to lose the slouch and improve your posture.
15. Pay Attention to Warning Signs
If your back is hurting, you shouldn't ignore it. It's normal to have a backache once in a while. But if your back always hurts, listen to your body.
Untreated back pain can worsen over time and become a serious issue. Don't try to alleviate the pain by self-medicating or over-exercising.
Talk to your doctor to find the cause of your pain and the right treatment for your symptoms. Besides physical therapy and pain medication, there are many modern therapies and treatment options available for people with back pain.
Natural Supplements for Back pain
Many people use supplements or natural therapies to treat their pain symptoms. Some of these include:
- Calcium and magnesium - These supplements, taken together, may help relieve muscle spasms, reduce pain, and promote spinal mobility in people with chronic low back pain.
- Glucosamine sulfate - This supplement may improve low back pain caused by arthritis. Studies on the effectiveness of this supplement are mixed.
- Herbal therapies - Some herbals like Bryonia and Arnica may reduce low back pain, especially when combined with physical therapy.
Other Treatments for Back Pain
Some back-pain sufferers prefer not to use pain medications or supplements. Here are some other options.
- Creams and gels can be helpful for back pain and don't interfere with other medications.
- Cold packs help reduce inflammation and swelling associated with back pain.
- Hot packs, hot water bottles, or heating pads help reduce cramping, muscle spasms, and tension.
- TENS machines are battery-powered devices that attach to the skin and provide electronic stimulation to the nerves of the back. This may work by scrambling the pain message to the brain or by triggering a release of endorphins that override pain sensations.
Many people with back pain have had success with TENS units. Talk to your doctor to see which therapy may be a good choice for you.
Methods to Support Your Back
Following some simple tips to support the small of your back will help you feel better and experience less pain and tension. It's important to support your spine as you work, play, and sleep.
Taking good care of your back begins with taking care of yourself each day. Our supportive products help you do that. Be sure to take a look at our pillows and other products that promote good back health.