Home Treatments For Back Pain
Almost everyone experiences back pain at some point in their lives. For some, the pain goes away quickly, but many experience pain that recurs or becomes chronic. Back pain can get in the way of home, work and social life. It is important to be proactive.
Knowing just what to do for your back can be difficult. 85% of back pain cases are diagnosed as nonspecific, meaning that a cause is not found. It is safe to say that much of the back pain people feel today can be attributed to muscular causes; only a minority of people have spinal degenerative problems that cause pain. For regular sore, aching, nagging back pain, there are things you can do from home to help the pain go away for good.
The first and most important step to ridding back pain is to get active. A sedentary lifestyle is detrimental to your body. Muscles that are held in one position for a prolonged period of time become rigid. Chronic muscle tension is a common result of a sedentary lifestyle. It is important to stretch regularly, giving your body a break from the position it holds while you work, watch TV or travel. When stretching for back pain, focus not only on the back muscles but on the hamstrings, hip flexors and gluteal muscles as well.
Muscle weakness is another common problem that causes back pain, mainly because it causes postural dysfunction. Modern conveniences like cushy chairs and couches have encouraged us to grow soft. Without core muscle engagement, our spines are not elongated and posture suffers.
The core consists of muscles in the stomach, lower back, hips and buttocks. These work together to promote pelvic and spinal stability and to assist the spine in holding the upper body upright. It is important to develop core muscles that are not only strong but balanced; an imbalance in the area can pull the pelvis out of alignment and distort posture.
For a helpful series of stretches, see http://www.spine-health.com/wellness/exercise/stretching-back-pain-relief. To learn exercises that develop a strong and balanced core, see http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/core-strength/SM00047.
The modern era, with its emphasis on working and playing from chairs, has given birth to a poor posture epidemic. It is common to slump down when you are working at a desk, allowing your lower back to round out and your shoulders to slump forward. Forward head posture is very common among people who use computers, iPhones and other electronic devices regularly.
Stretching and strengthening will help you achieve proper posture, but you must also practice posture awareness. It is easy to sink back into poor habits the minute you sit at your computer desk or pull out your phone. Change the way you do these activities. Adjust the height and angle of your computer chair and monitor to encourage your head to stay properly aligned. Hold your electronic devices to eye-level rather than craning your head down to get closer to them. These may seem like small changes, but when you add up the amount of time you spend with your technology throughout the day, the change adds up for your back and neck as well.
How you sleep and what you do it on can play a big role in back pain. Remember, most people spend a quarter to a third of every day in bed. Sleeping on your stomach is not recommended; this allows the lower back arch to increase and can cause muscle tension. If you sleep on your side, put a pillow between your knees to promote proper hip alignment. If you sleep on your back, put a pillow under your knees; this promotes a neutral pelvic position.
If you have been sleeping on a lumpy, sagging mattress, it is time for a new setup. Most people with back problems benefit from firm mattresses that keep the spine and pelvis aligned. Platform beds are excellent supports for a mattress. Memory foam can be placed on top of platform stands to create a firm, uniform bed. If you can't afford a new bed, you might even benefit from sleeping on the floor in the meantime. Many with back pain report beneficial results from the floor versus an old mattress.
Four main prongs of back pain home treatment are stretching, strengthening, posture awareness and sleep adjustment. For the average case of back pain, these changes may be enough to bring relief.