Back pain is a common problem with the potential to affect individuals of any age. While it may occur as a result of injury, it could also be the result of everyday habits that silently do harm. Here are four expert-backed tips to relieve back pain.
1. Move your muscles more often
Back pain is often blamed on our posture, especially if we spend long hours hunched over something. But Eric Robertson of the University of Southern California made an important distinction — hunching over every now and then is completely fine. The problem is not the position itself but the fact that we stay there for too long.
“Imagine if you woke up one day and you never turned your head. Well, at the end of the day you wouldn’t be very good at turning your head left or right. It would feel stiff and uncomfortable,” he explained.
Try to keep changing your position, taking your joints and muscles through a range of motions. Consider simple exercises throughout the day if you work a desk job. Something like a back bound hand stretch can make a difference, even if you spend most of it seated in one place.
2. Change sleeping position… or your mattress
Experts noted sleeping on your side can help by “mechanically opening up a crowded oropharynx,” and putting the spine in an ideal position to relieve back pain. Those who are prone to back pain were advised to avoid sleeping on their front or in a fetal position.
In some cases, it may even boil down to the type of mattress you use. Since soft and firm mattresses seem to have varying effects on individuals, some amount of trial and error may be required to find your perfect fit.
3. Find a more suitable bag
Tote bags look pretty fantastic. But if you carry around a lot of things on a daily basis, you may want to switch yours out for a backpack. With two straps, you can reduce the burden of weight by placing them on both shoulders instead of one.
Wearing bags improperly can lead to back pain, shoulder pain, and even headaches according to Natalie Lovitz, clinical director of professional physical therapy in New York City.
“Wearing a bag on one side can cause or reinforce muscle imbalances in the shoulders and spine,” she said. “Those imbalances can also occur all the way down the chain, and can cause other issues, such as changes in gait — the way your body normally walks.”
4. Use a heating pad or an ice pack
If you are wondering which one you should use, the general rule is to look at the type of pain. If your back pain is the result of a new injury, Dr. Rami Said of Columbia University recommends ice to help with inflammation and swelling.
If what you are experiencing is more along the lines of stiffness, opt for a heating pad. “Heat will bring more blood flow to the area, reduce stiffness and discomfort, possibly reducing the pain and aching, so you feel as if you can move a little easier,” he explained.