Back pain can make everyday tasks seem much more difficult—even seemingly mundane activities like walking uphill or taking the trash out. Thankfully, there are a few ways to alleviate the pain before it gets to the point you need to go to the chiropractor or the doctor.
Before calling in the medical cavalry, try these four tips to alleviate back pain.
1. Remember the importance of temperature.
Try changing the temperature of the area in pain. Applying cold packs to your back can help reduce inflammation, and slow down the nerve impulses often responsible for pain and back spasms. Alternately, heat therapy stimulates blood flow and inhibits the pain messages your nerves are sending to your brain. If you don't have a hot pack handy, a hot shower with the water focused on the painful area will also help ease the pain.
2. Try yoga.
Any exercise that doesn't overexert your muscles can reduce back pain, especially if you take it slowly. Taking on more than you handle will often make the problems much worse.
One of the best exercises to help get you back on your feet is yoga. Yoga poses like the Sphinx and Two-Knee Twist should help the pain, and you'll likely notice an improvement within days.
3. Treat yourself to a massage.
Going to a spa on a weekly basis might be pretty expensive, but making a point to see a professional might help not only your back, but your frame of mind. In a 2011 study, 36 percent of patients with lower back pain who received weekly massages said their pain was "nearly or completely gone."
4. Try to maintain a good posture.
If you keep an eye on how you hold your body and how you present yourself, the problems will likely decrease. Always try to make sure your shoulders are back while walking, and if you work in an office, notice how you sit at your desk. Are you slouched or sitting upright? It definitely makes a difference, since bad posture can put a lot of unnecessary pressure on your nerves. Plus, good posture can give you a confidence boost as well!
For a less expensive alternative, try looking for a massaging tool you can use yourself. Or recruit your spouse or a friend to be an in-home masseuse.
Illustration by Karley Koenig