If you’re struggling to deal with lingering pain in your back, you’re far from alone. Estimates suggest that around 80% of us will experience low back pain within our lifetime, and 25% of us report having it at least once in the last three months alone!
Being part of that number might not feel very comforting, especially if you’re dealing with pain on a regular basis. However, there’s a silver lining here: back pain is so common that we’ve found many methods of managing it in order to maintain an active lifestyle.
All of us at Colorado Pain Experts are here to help you with personalized insights into any type of back pain you might be experiencing. However, it’s also important for you to have strategies for easing your pain at home, allowing you to supplement the work we do with you in our appointments. Let’s take a look at a few key methods.
General Tips for Back Pain
Before we get into a few detailed tips on things you can do for specific parts of your back, it’s worth going over some general strategies you can use to help ease any type of back pain.
Exercise When Possible
While certain types of back conditions make exercise difficult or even painful, it’s worth noting that safe movements can help your back. In fact, lying still for an extended period of time can actually make your pain worse!
Instead, try some slow and simple aerobic, strength training, and flexibility exercises. Make sure to work with us to ensure that any regimen you start is safe for your condition.
Maintain Good Posture
Treating chronic pain will only be a short-term solution if you don’t take steps to modify poor posture. Setting up an ergonomic workstation, taking frequent breaks, and being more aware of your movements can help.
Don’t forget to maintain good posture at bedtime! It’s often best to sleep on your back, though you can also sleep on your side if you place a pillow between your knees. In addition, invest in a firm mattress, as a soft one can aggravate existing issues.
It’s safe to say that stress is often one of a few common denominators for different types of back pain. Because stress causes us to carry unnecessary tension in our bodies, it can sometimes lead to muscle fatigue, which can result in poor posture habits and pain.
As a result, self-care activities that reduce stress can help. We often advise trying relaxation strategies like yoga, meditation, tai chi, and mindfulness practices.
Managing Lower Back Pain
Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s take a look at what you can do about chronic lower back pain specifically.
When it comes to lower back conditions, it’s worth remembering that your back gets a lot of support from your abdominal core.
For this reason, we advise strength training to enhance the muscles of your core and hips. There are plenty of simple exercises to try, though we again recommend checking with us first to make sure they’re safe for you!
In terms of flexibility and spinal elongation, a few yoga moves can help. The cat-cow stretch, sphinx pose, and child’s pose are generally safe stretches for lower back pain, though we may recommend additional stretches to help.
Managing Upper Back Pain
Chronic pain in the upper back often stems from a hunched posture at work. Fortunately, there are a few simple ways to adjust this posture and reduce your pain.
Sometimes, frequent poor posture can result in muscle weakness, especially as we round our shoulders and let our arms sag forward. Correcting this weakness can be an easy way to reduce your pain.
Doing rows, either with resistance bands or a dumbbell, is one of the best and easiest strength exercises to try here.
Stretches that release tension in your shoulders can help. Try doing side stretches, eagle pose, and child’s pose to start.
Extending and relaxing the upper back can be a great way to earn some short-term relief. You can do this in a few ways, depending on your mobility and the location of your pain.
First, try sitting in a chair whose back comes roughly up to your shoulder blades. Allow your upper body, including your head and arms, to relax backward. You can also try this by lying on your back atop a yoga ball, allowing your spine to elongate.
If you have a foam roller, you can place it on the floor and lie on top of it so that it sits parallel to the spine of your upper back. Let your shoulders and head relax into the stretch.
Addressing the Neck
For some people, upper back pain is actually the result of issues in the neck, from tension to spinal misalignment. Addressing these issues can be a great help. Here are a few key things to try:
- Sleep with a cervical pillow, which can help your neck maintain its natural curve as you rest
- Stretch often: take breaks to tip your neck forward, backward, and from side to side
- Ensure that your computer monitor is close enough to see, and keep your glasses prescription up to date if you have one
You might be surprised at how taking better care of your neck reduces the pain in your upper back as well!
Consult Our Team for Specific Tips
Note that everyone’s back pain is different, stemming from a range of conditions and symptoms. That means that while the advice above may help in general, it often won’t be enough to help with a complete recovery.
That’s where we come in. With experience working with a huge variety of lower back, upper back, and neck issues, we’re here to help prescribe a treatment plan that will help you manage and reduce your chronic pain. If you’re ready for expert help, schedule your appointment today.