3 Exercises to Help Relieve Back Pain
5 Proven Ways to Stop Low Back Pain
Low back pain affects about 80 percent of us at some point, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). It's the leading cause of job-related disability.
In fact, low back pain causes more disability worldwide than any other health condition, according to a study published in 2014 in theAnnals of the Rheumatic Diseases. Given that low back pain is most common in older age groups, the issue will only get worse over the next few decades as the world population and the proportion of older people continues to grow, warned the study’s authors.
Here are five proven ways you can ease low back pain.
1. Get moving, get stronger, and stretch.Exercise is a great way to improve back strength and relieve chronic back pain. Strengthening exercises like weightlifting not only help build bone density, they can also ease back pain; however, these exercises aren't recommended for acute (short-term) low back pain, according to NINDS.
If you do try weightlifting to help reduce back pain, make sure you’re doing it right: Always warm up before hitting the weights, and practice good posture and proper breathing during your workout. If you feel pain, stop.
Another way to get moving: Try yoga or stretching.
People who participated in yoga or stretching classes were more likely to reduce their intake of pain meds compared to people who managed symptoms on their own, according to a study published in 2011 in theArchives of Internal Medicine.
What's more, a systematic review of the literature, published in 2019 in the found that most research indicates that yoga can reduce chronic low back pain and disability. The practice may even help improve negative psychological systems associated with low back pain, such as depression.
But remember, if you experience back pain, talk to your doctor before starting any new exercise regimens.
2. Maintain a healthy weight.Being overweight increases your risk of back pain. That’s because extra weight can stress your joints and back muscles, leading to pain, according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. Regular exercise — at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week — as well as a diet that is low in fat and calories can help you lose those excess pounds and maintain a healthy weight. If you’re struggling to lose weight, talk to your doctor about resources that can help you reach your goal.
3. Try medications.Your doctor may recommend over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin (Bayer), naproxen (Aleve) and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin); or acetaminophen (Tylenol) for back-pain relief. But overuse or long-term use of NSAIDs can cause side effects, including kidney failure and stomach ulcers and bleeding; and overuse of acetaminophen can cause liver problems; so talk to your doc right away if your back pain doesn’t get better.
Other medications your doctor might prescribe include narcotics such as codeine or hydrocodone, or muscle relaxants. These medications can only be used for a short period, however, and under the close supervision of your doctor.
4. Make time for massages.Massage therapy may help soothe the sore area — a study published in 2011 in theAnnals of Internal Medicinefound that massage therapy eased chronic low back pain and improved function even after six months.
Despite this one study, keep in mind that the research is still out on whether massage helps people with low back pain. A 2015 Cochrane systematic review of the literature on this topic found that most studies reviewed were small and had design flaws — and that the evidence to support massage for low back pain is low.
But on the upside, the review suggests that massage may only result in minor adverse effects, so it's little harm to try.
5. Try home remedies.If you experience acute back pain, there are a lot of home remedies to help you find relief.
When back pain strikes, try a hot or cold pack for temporary relief. Heat therapy promotes blood flow to the inflamed part of the body, which allows the muscles to relax. Cold therapy slows blood flow to the inflamed body part, which reduces swelling.
Regardless of which pain relief method you try, time matters.
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