“Back pain is one of the most common reasons for missed work. “ by American Chiropractic Association.
Once in a while, I suffer from back pain, specially lower back pain. So I decided to investigate and find natural ways to relieve and prevent the pain.
I’ve created this guide because I know that I’m not alone in this problem, and, maybe I could help others struggling for a solution to their back problem
“1 in every 2 working Americans admit to have back pain symptoms every year. “
I’ve always believed that the only way to find a real effective solution is to first understand the root of the problem.
The most 7 common causes for back pain
- Sedentary lifestyle – Too much time seated, more time driving than walking
- Too much bed rest – Lazy weekends days spent on the bed or couch
- Static working posture – bad postures for hours working on your laptop at work
- Bad sleeping nights – Probably it’s time to upgrade your mattress
- Few exercise – Let’s do more walking or/and running
- No stretching exercises resulting in back muscle strain
- Lifting heavy objects the wrong way
In this article, I will suggest natural ways, that have helped me to relief and prevent future back pain.
Changing behaviors to relieve back pain
Before we continue I must say that every case of back pain should always diagnose and seen by a physician. I’m not a physician and I’m not here pretending to be one. There are different types and pain intensities and you should always see your physician.
I always try to avoid as much as possible to take a pill as a solution to muscle pain, due to the simple fact that it doesn’t solve our problem it only relief our pain for some hours. But every case is different and, again, I always recommend that you see your physician.
Changing simple daily routines can effectively reduce and prevent back pain.
Go for walks: call a friend and go for a nice walk in the evening or just before going to work. Enjoy this time to have a nice talk or to clear your mind from thoughts and relax your mind and emotions.
Walk more drive less: sometimes we are too lazy to walk and instead we take our car. Leave your car keys, and go to the supermarket walking
Change working posture: We can get better chairs to improve our posture at work but truth to be told our body is not designed to be in the same position for hours.Install an app like Time out and do a 15 seconds break for every 15 minutes (quick stretching for example) and a 10-minute break for every hour (go for a walk or to the toilet or say hi to a colleague).
Lately, I’ve been working in a standing up position. I bought a keyboard stand (like this at amazon.com) and a laptop stand (this model ) and with less than $50 I can have a standing up work station, or you can get a table that lifts electrically for around $500. Be sure to have the keyboard and mouse at the height of your elbow and the top of your screen right in line with your eyes. Working in a standing position just for a couple of hours (with some seating breaks) have effectively helped me to reduce totally my lower back pain in hard days.
Work standing helps in a very effective way to correct the posture of your back and I highly recommend you to give it a try, in the beginning, do 15 minutes standing and then have a seat as you might feel pain in your legs. But again, even standing I do my 15 seconds break for every 15 minutes and 10 min break for every hour as our body doesn’t appreciate we keep the same positions for hours.
Sleeping: A good night sleep is very important to prevent and reduce back pain. If you wake up during the night struggling for a position while your back is hurting you probably need to invest some money in a new mattress. Mattresses are expensive but, after suffering several years from back pain I can tell that’s one the best things that money can buy to increase your back health straight away. I do like mid to hard mattress and I prefer Latex, they are expensive but I highly recommend it. We usually spend one-third of our life sleeping so we better have a good place to rest our back and ourselves don’t you think? This is the one I use, you can see it at amazon.com, yes it’s more expensive than the usual mattress but every night I have a lovely night rest that I wouldn’t change that for saving some money.
Exercise: Moving your body allows it to relax, to reduce the tension and release jammed muscles and release all the accumulated tension. If exercise is not really your thing, start to go for a walk, in between try some running. Walk 15 minutes and run 1 minute, just be curious about what happens. No expectations or frustrations, just be curious to try activities you think you don’t like, maybe you get a surprise. Call your friends, invite a neighbor and go for a walk.
Stretching exercises: from my experience, this are by far the most effective and quick way to relief back pain. I do a 5 minutes routine just after I’m out of the bed. I do daily back stretching exercises to relief and prevent future muscle tensions that could lead to pain. I have shared different stretching exercises for different parts of the back. I highly recommend you to try it for 5 days in a row and check the benefits from your experience.
Lifting objects: Have a correct posture when lifting objects, I don’t specify light or heavy because if you create the habit of lifting any object using a correct posture you don’t have to remind yourself how to lift an heavy object as you always will do it the same correct way.
Back Pain Relief Stretches
One day after my workout I started to feel a lot of low back pain and I thought that would go away after a good night sleep, but that didn’t happen. The pain continued, on the second day I took a pill for the pain. Taking pills everyday was not really a plan for me, I do believe treating the root of the problem is always better than constantly taking pills to not feel the pain.
I started to search for exercises and remembered the yoga poses I used to do back in the time I was practising yoga two times a week. I searched in youtube and tried different exercises, until I came with a routine that best worked for me and for my back. Can’t tell is the best routine for every and single persons back pain but I do can tell that it works very good for me.
Every day I wake up and with only 5 minutes I do 5 different exercises to stretch different muscles. I found early morning to be the best moment to perform this stretches as I’m most of the time so sleepy that I just put the autopilot mode and by the time I’m finished I’m already more awake and ready for a nice shower.
If a particular day is harder on my back, due to long hours working on the same posture on the computer, no walking only driving, carrying groceries or stressing tasks, I do a second 5 minute routine before dinner.
The results are very effective, if you start doing it today you will probably feel the results after the 5th consecutive day. This is not a promise is just my experience, don’t take my word, try it yourself.
Get 5 minutes of your time to take care of your back and to release the tension and the pain that is all accumulated on your back muscles.
Hope you enjoy.
Material I use
Yoga Mat: If the floor is to hard for you, use a yoga mat, the model I use is available at amazon.com.
Music: Once you’ve understood how to perform the stretches and you don’t have to follow the videos instructions, a calm music helps to relax the mind and calm our thoughts. I specially love this music under (and the video) and I use a Bluetooth speaker (I use this one that’s available at amazon.com) so I can listen to the music where I’m doing the stretches, usually in my room but I like to switch to the living room sometimes.
Time in breathings or minutes: I prefer to count the time spent on a exercise by breathings. One breathing is a deeply slowly inhale followed by a also slow and deeply exhale. Counting breathings allow me better relax and enjoy the position of the exercise and better listen to my body and mute my thoughts while I’m doing the exercise and avoid to think in my agenda for the day. I prefer this approach instead of having to have a phone or a watch by my site, but that’s up to you.
Relax and Enjoy: It’s important to do the exercises in a correct and comfortable way and never force yourself, listen to your body and understand your limits. This is not a race nor a competition, it’s a healing process. Enjoying the exercise is also very important aspect to get results. Only relaxing you can release the tension, unblock muscles and allow your body to heal.
5 Minute Stretching Routine For Back Pain Relief
1. Child pose stretch
Time: 10 breathings – Around 1 min
I roll out the bed directly to the floor of my room, or sometimes I use my yoga mat still with my eyes closed I starting doing this stretch.
Benefits of this pose:
- elongates the lower back
- It lengthens and stretches the spine
- Good for your digestion – especially if you have gas
Hold the position minimum for 5 deeply breaths (inhale and exhale), return to start position do a couple of normal breathings and repeat once again.
2. Cat and Cow Stretch
Time: 10 breathings – Around 1 min
It stretches the back torso and neck and releases stress from lower back pain and sciatica.
Slowly deeply Inhale on cat stretch and complete exhale on the cow stretch. No rush, do it slowly following your breathing and listening to your body while you change positions.
Do at least 5 breathings (inhale and exhale), around 30 seconds. After, go back to start position do a couple of deeply breathing and start again for more 5 breathings. Total of 1 minute.
3. Low Back Knee Rotation Stretch
Time: 10 breathings – Around 1 min
This is the exercise that best relaxes my lower back muscle and releases the tension of a full day working on the computer at the desk.
I don’t use a pillow on my head, so I put my head directly on the floor or on my yoga mat.
I usually start with the right side and do around 5 deeply inhale and exhale breathing which are around 30 seconds.
4. Deep Glute Stretch
Time: Around 1 min
Hold for 5 deeply breathings (inhale and exhale) for each leg then switch.
5. Knee to Chest Stretch
Time: Around 1 min. Very good for low back pain.
Very good for low back pain.
Lay down on your yoga mat if you found the floor too hard for you.
Do 5 deep breathings (inhale and exhale) for each leg, around 30 seconds, then switch.
Breathe slowly, no rush, take your time, close your eyes and enjoy the exercise and try to get into a peaceful state of mind.
In the end, try to pull both knees gentle for a simultaneous stretch and sense your muscles completely stretching.
How to prevent back pain
- Do daily or several times a week stretching exercise
- While working, especially on a desk, do a break every hour walk a little allow the body to relax the compressed muscles as a result of a static position for long periods of time.
- Go for a walk or do some running at least twice a week, moving and using your muscles helps to reduce tension
- Good working chairs “force” you to adopt a good position on the desk
- Good mattress offers you a better sleeping position
- Lift objects in a correct way independently of their weight, create the habit of lifting in a safe way.
Core Exercises for Back Pain Relief
Strong back muscles can make staying in good posture easier and reduce your risk of hurting your back when lifting things. While you COULD go to the gym to strengthen your back, you don’t have to as there are several excellent at-home exercises you can do almost anywhere and anytime.
I like to do my strengthening exercises first thing in the morning. I only do one or two because that’s all you need to keep your muscles in good shape. In fact, if you were to do a whole lot more, you’d just tire your back muscles out and that could increase your risk of poor posture and back pain. When it comes to back strengthening exercises, think quality over quantity.
Here are five of my favorite back strengthening exercises. Some of them work the muscle of the lower back directly while others affect the core muscles which support your lower back like a strong and stabilizing corset. Make sure to do a variety of exercises to strengthen you back from all angles. For example, you could do different exercises on different days.
How many – do as many repetitions as you need to so you feel mild fatigue in the target muscles. You should feel a small amount of discomfort but no real pain. If it hurts, you are either doing too many or doing it wrong! Rest a minute and then go again. Do two to three sets in total.
Breathing – don’t hold your breath as this will increase your blood pressure and makes the exercise harder than necessary. Your muscle needs oxygen!
Equipment – all you need for these exercises is a mat ( I use this one, available at amazon.com) or a folded towel to lie on. This will make sure you stay comfortable.
5 Minute Core Exercises for Back Pain Relief
1. Hip bridge
This exercise not only works your lower back, it also works your hamstrings and butt at the same time. These muscles work together anytime you bend down to pick something up. Strengthening these muscles will make sure that you have more power for lifting things and that will reduce your chances of hurting your back.
2. Bird dog
This amazing exercise works your lower back and your core all at the same time. It’s also good for your posture. This means it’s perfect for when you are running short of time. Do it slowly, smoothly, and deliberately to get the most benefits.
Your abs play a crucial role in supporting your lower back, but many abs exercises can actually cause back pain. Planks are different because they not only strengthen your entire core, they are also easy on your lower back. Remember not to hold your breath though!
4. Floor back extensions
If you spend a lot of time sitting with a rounded back, this is the exercise for you. It not only strengthens your lower back, it also helps to teach you not to round your back. Place your hands behind your lower back for an easier workout, or extend your arms in front of you to make things harder.
5. Kneeling good morning
This unusual exercise is a good way to strengthen your lower back without resorting to going to the gym. If you find balancing tricky at first, put your feet under something sturdy – such as your couch. If you find kneeling down is uncomfortable, fold your exercise mat into quarters to make it thicker.
Upper Back Pain
When most people think of back pain, they usually think about the lower back. Lower back pain is the most common kind of back pain with as many as 80% of Americans suffering from this unpleasant condition, and lower back pain being the second-most common cause of work absenteeism.
However, and not far behind, is upper back pain. Upper back pain tends to be less debilitating but is still a problem that many people deal with on a daily basis.
In this article, I want to explore some of the causes of upper back pain and provide you with some simple ways to reduce your discomfort and restore normal upper back function.
Five common causes of upper back pain
Upper back pain can be caused by several factors including:
- Habitual slouching – tall people, people who have to work in confined spaces, and people with habitually poor posture tend to slouch, and that slouch comes from rounding the upper back. This puts stress on the muscles, ligaments, and disks of the upper back and that can produce pain.
- Poor seated posture – if you work at a computer, chances are you hunch over your keyboard and also crane your neck forward to look at your display screen. This puts a lot of stress on your upper back as your muscles have to work harder than normal to hold your head up against gravity.
- 3. Stress – stress causes your muscles to tense up, especially those in your upper back and neck. All this extra tension disrupts the blood flow to your upper back and neck muscles which increases lactic acid production and causes localized muscle pain. Many people find their upper back pain disappears at the weekend, or while on vacation when stress levels are invariably lower.
- 4. Carrying a heavy shoulder bag – carrying a lot of weight on just one shoulder increases your chances of developing upper back pain. A heavy work bag, for example, will pull one shoulder downward which increases the strain on your upper back. The best solution to this problem is to use a rucksack and put the straps on both shoulders, therefore spreading the load evenly.
- 5. Lack of exercise – being sedentary can soon lead to muscle weakness and upper back pain. Your head is the heaviest part of your body, and it takes a lot of strength to hold it up against the pull of gravity. Lack of muscle strength means your head tends to hang forward and that puts a lot of stress on the vertebrae, ligaments, intervertebral disks, and muscles of your upper back. Exercise is crucial for keeping your muscles strong enough to take the stress off the skeletal components of your upper back.
5 Exercises for Upper back pain
If you have chronic upper back pain, you should probably get it checked you by a qualified medical professional to reveal the underlying cause. However, and once you have had the go ahead from your doctor, there are several exercises you can do to reduce upper back pain yourself.
1. Counter top stretch
I love this exercise; I do it every morning for a minute or so while my coffee is brewing. I find that it’s the perfect way to mobilize my upper back after a night of sleeping in the same position. Because I can do it in my kitchen, I have no excuse for not doing it every day. I also like to do it when I get home after a long day of sitting at my computer and in my car. It stretches and mobilizes your upper or thoracic spine and helps cancel out some of the damage done by prolonged sitting.
2. Upper trapezius stretch
Your upper trapezius is the large muscle that runs from the middle and top of your back up into the base of your skull. When this muscle becomes right, as it tends to when you are stressed, it can cause a lot of upper back pain. This stretch can be done anywhere, anytime, even when you are sat at your desk. Do it whenever you feel your shoulders beginning to creep up toward your ears – such as during a stressful phone call. Seated or standing, this is a great stress-busting exercise.
3. Mid back stretch
This is another one of my favorite upper back pain-relieving stretches. All you need is an open doorway, so you can do it almost anywhere in your home or office. It provides the middle of your upper back with a comfortable, relaxing stretch, and is a good way to remove the tensions of the day from your body. If you feel tightness between your shoulder blades, a common problem after a long day of working at a computer or driving, this is the exercise for you.
4. Quadruped thoracic spine twist
Most of spend our days looking straight ahead. This can cause a lot of tension in the upper back and neck, as well as reducing your ability to rotate and twist. You only tend to realize you have lost this ability when you try to do it and realize you can’t! This simple exercise helps remove tension from your upper back and neck by gently twisting your thoracic spine. Don’t worry if you find it hard at first; after a few days of practice, you’ll rediscover your ability to twist and, in doing so, remove a major cause of upper back pain.
5. Cat-cow stretch
If you suffer from upper AND lower back pain, this exercise is an excellent cure all. It mobilizes and stretches your spine along its entire length, and provides almost instant relief to a range of back pain problems. I like to do this anytime I have spent more than a couple of hours sat at my desk. My work colleagues think it’s pretty funny when I do this in the office, but not having back pain makes it all worthwhile! At the end of the day, I get to go home with a spine that feels young, supple, and healthy. They, on the other hand, have back pain, and walk like old people!
All forms of back pain can be very debilitating, and while it’s often hard to do much about the causes, you can usually do a lot about the symptoms and relieve the pain yourself. In my opinion, it’s always better to try and exercise pain away than take a few pain pills, which only ever cover up the problem. Do these exercises every day to eliminate your upper back pain.