Career Advice - A Community Blog

Erik Larson writes about the job market, resume improvement, and career advice

Tips for Relieving Back Pain

Written by Erik Larson, Community Blogger | Dec 24, 2017 4:00 PM

Whether it is caused by a sudden, acute injury or years of bone and joint degeneration, back pain can be a life-altering condition. It can cause you to lose mobility and sleep, and chronic back pain can even wear you down mentally over time.

Fortunately, there are a lot of things you can do to relieve the pain. Your first course of action should be to consult your physician to understand the cause of your back pain and to explore your treatment options. Having done that, here are some additional things you can do on your own at home.

1. Improve Your Posture

The curvature of your spine can influence the amount of back pain you experience. Poor posture over a period of years can actually contribute to back injuries and abnormal development, but the opposite can also be true. Improving your posture can reduce back pain.

When sitting or standing, do your best to straighten out your back. Keep your chin up, your chest out and your shoulders pulled back. It might feel a little awkward at first, but soon your body will fall into this alignment without a conscious effort on your part.

2. Support Your Spine During Sleep

When you lie down in bed to sleep, your sleeping posture is also important, as it affects the curvature of your spine and can exacerbate your back pain. Experts recommend laying on your side, with your head on a pillow and another pillow between your knees. Try to stack your legs on top of each other rather than letting them spread out in different positions, as this symmetry can keep your spine in a more consistent alignment.

Another good way to support your back while sleeping is to use a mattress that is specifically designed to provide back support. Many mattresses are too soft, either as a result of years of wear and tear or simply from poor design and cheap workmanship. But a properly-designed mattress can provide the support your back needs.

3. Incorporate Gentle Exercises Daily

Back pain can leave you stuck in a downward spiral. It hurts to move around, so you avoid exercise and sit or lie down whenever possible. But then this lack of movement causes your back to stiffen up even more, which only makes the pain worse over time.

To combat this tendency, make a conscious effort to include gentle exercises into your day. A few stretches can work wonders for your back. Combine that with short walks down the street or even some easy, beginner yoga classes once a week, and you'll begin to feel some relief in a relatively short period of time. The key is to be consistent.

4. Work Your Core to Prevent Strength Imbalances

Muscle imbalances are one of the primary causes of back pain, particularly your lower back muscles and abdominal muscles. Many people use their lower back muscles on a regular basis to bend over or carry heavy objects, but their abdominals get little direct stimulation. To counter this imbalance, include abdominal exercises in your routine a few times per week. You don't need to join a gym or spend a lot of time on this. Just a few minutes a few times per week at home should do the trick.

5. Use Pain Relievers Sparingly

Pain relief medications certainly have their place for dealing with chronic back pain. But you need to be careful that you don't become too dependent on them. Some over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers are actually addictive, and certain ones can also cause gastro-intestinal problems. So use them sparingly. Consult your physician if you are unsure about the safety of your pain medications or their interactions with any other medications you may be taking.

Back pain can be very debilitating, and it is a problem that tends to worsen over time if you don't take specific steps to eliminate it. Consult your doctor and ask about what steps you can do at home to relieve your back pain. Ask about some of these tips covered here and begin taking action as soon as possible to improve your situation.

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