Back pain is one of the biggest reasons people give for having time off work. It affects so many people at some stage in their life and for some people back pain is a recurring problem throughout their life. It is always advisable to seek diagnosis and treatment with back related problems, but in addition to this, there are many simple but effective things you can do for yourself to help alleviate back pain.
Keep a Pain Diary
Keeping a Pain Diary will help you to see when your flare-ups occur and what you have been doing at the time the pain occurred. This is an ideal way of identifying patterns of activities that could be causing your flare-ups of back pain and will help you to eliminate or find better ways of doing things to help manage and alleviate your pain.
Try to keep active if you can. You may not always feel like exercising, but performing gentle low-impact exercises like walking, swimming and using exercise bikes will help to strengthen your back muscles. Some people find Pilates to be very helpful in alleviating back pain. Stretching exercises can also be quite helpful and are often recommended by physiotherapists to help with rehabilitating patients with joint and muscle pains.
- Low-impact exercises
- Exercise bikes
- Stretching exercises
Many people with back pain have good and bad days, with the pain coming and going. Don’t be tempted to overdo it on your good days. Just because your back feels ok one day doesn’t mean you should try to get all your chores done at once! If you don’t remember to pace yourself on your good days, then you could risk setting the pain off/increasing it and making your bad days even worse.
Maintain Good Posture
To help alleviate back pain you need to be conscious of maintaining a good posture at all times. Try to avoid hunching your shoulders, slouching, slumping down in your chair or hunching over your desk. It’s easy to forget these simple things, so you do need to keep reminding yourself and make a conscious effort to correct your posture.
- Avoid hunching your shoulders.
- Avoid slouching.
- Avoid slumping down in your chair.
- Sit in a chair with a backrest to support your back.
- When sitting, keep your feet flat on the floor or use a footrest.
- Avoid hunching over your desk.
Use Correct Bending and Lifting Techniques
A common problem with back pain sufferers is incorrect bending and lifting. Most people are aware of the right way to bend and lift but when it comes to the action they tend to forget and carry on in the same old way. Here again, as with good posture, you have to make a conscious effort to bend and lift in the right way.
Follow these simple rules for bending and lifting to help alleviate back pain:
- Bend at your knees and your hips.
- Avoid twisting and bending at the same time.
- Lift and carry objects close to your body.
- Use backpacks rather than shoulder bags to distribute the weight evenly.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Maintaining a healthy weight will help to relieve back pain. Excess weight will put added pressure on your back, so it is worth taking into consideration whether you need to lose a bit of weight or not. Healthy eating and gentle exercise will help.
Relaxation techniques can be very helpful in alleviating back pain. When you are relaxed, then your muscles will loosen up too. You may already have a hobby or activity that you find relaxing, so allow yourself to have time out. Different people find different activities relaxing, so you need to find the right thing for you. It could be reading a book, listening to music, going for walks, getting together with family or friends or even meditation, yoga or pilates.
Choosing the right bed mattress is very important when it comes to managing your back pain. Lack of support from a mattress leads to poor posture and strained muscles. Every person’s needs are different and what one person may find to be a good mattress for them, may not be suitable for somebody else.
A medium to firm mattress is usually found to provide the most comfort for back pain relief. A mattress that is too soft will not offer you any support, whilst a mattress that is too hard will cause aches and pains on pressure points. If your mattress no longer feels comfortable or sags in the middle, then you know it is time to get a new one.
Many people with back pain have found Memory Foam mattresses to be very beneficial in helping to alleviate pain and giving them a good night’s sleep. Memory Foam mattresses mould to an individual’s body shape, giving total all round support and thereby helping to relieve pressure on painful joints.
Equipment/machines you can use at home to help relieve back pain
There are several devices on the market you can buy to use at home that are reported to help sufferers with back pain. Many people find relief with TENS machines or inversion tables.
You might like to try a TENS handheld electronic pulse massager which helps to reduce pain, stimulates nerves and muscles, and relaxes the body.
Or, if you have the space, consider getting an inversion table for use at home. These can be very effective in helping to stretch the body, aligning the spine, and relieving pressure on the back and joints.
N.B. It’s always advisable to consult your doctor or health care professional if you suffer from back or joint pains.