Everyone will be affected by low back pain at some point in their life. Which may cause difficulty with sitting at a desk for long hours, lifting heavy objects, having difficulty exercising, or cause you to experience poor sleep. Fortunately, there are practical steps you can take to eliminate or alleviate low back pain. Today, we’ll explore the top five effective tips that address specific aspects of your daily routine: the power of ice, maintaining proper posture, embracing pain free movement, optimizing sleep position, and lifting correctly.
Icing to Eliminate Low Back Pain
Ice is a very powerful ally in combating low back pain. Ice helps reduce inflammation and numbs the affected area, providing much needed relief from pain. But, there is so much controversy about how long to ice, how often to ice, and the best forms of ice. Today we are going to set the record straight.
Application: Apply an ice pack or bag of frozen peas wrapped in a thin cloth to the affected area for 3-5 minutes per session. This will help to decrease inflammation and soothe the pain. Make sure you always use a cloth, towel, or pillow case around the ice pack to avoid direct skin contact.
Frequency: Continue icing as needed, up to every hour for 3-5 minutes. You may find an increased need to ice after activities that may aggravate your back such as prolonged sitting or standing.
While ice is a very powerful tool to decrease discomfort in the short term, you need to consult a Specialist if your low back pain continues for more than a few days.
The Importance of Posture to Decrease Low Back Pain
Maintaining proper posture is a key factor in preventing and alleviating low back pain. Poor posture, whether sitting or standing, can increase strain to your lower back causing increased pain.
And, finding your correct posture should not be hard! Here we are going to give you Dr. Amy’s guide to finding your correct posture which can be found in her new book: Movement Is Life: Proven Strategies to Overcome Pain, Navigate the Key Stages of Your Life, and Heal Through Movement.
Dr. Amy’s simple technique for finding proper standing posture:
- 1Start by standing on a solid surface. Place your feet so they are directly underneath your hips. You should have equal weight through each foot.
- 2Feet should be pointing forward, but this may vary based on your bone alignment, so it’s best to check with a physical therapist when in doubt.
- 3Kneecaps are facing forward as if they are headlights that you are shining a path directly in front of your body. They should not be facing in or out.
- 4Your pelvis is in a neutral position, not tilted forward or backward. If you need to check, gently rock your pelvis forward and backward. Think of “tucking your tail” and then “fluffing your tail feathers.” Roll in between these two positions until you find a comfortable middle.
- 5Your lower abdominals should be engaged. To check, place your hand on the lower part of your stomach and feel to see if the muscles are engaged.
- 6Your sternum (the big chest bone between your ribs) is lifted, gently pointed upward.
- 7Your head is sitting on top of your spine. Your ears should be resting over your shoulders. This one may be hard to assess on your own, so feel free to ask a friend or family member to help.
- 8One final check to see if you are in the correct position: Think of yourself as a marionette puppet with a string coming out of the top of your head. You should feel that everything is in line underneath the string and you cannot get up any taller.
Motion Is Lotion For Low Back Pain
Contrary to common belief, movement is often the solution, not the problem when it comes to low back pain. Regular, pain free movement helps improve flexibility and mobility of the muscles which enhances overall spinal health. And, there are so many different ways to get moving.
Exercise: Try some low-impact exercises that promote core strength and flexibility, such as yoga or Pilates. These activities can help stabilize your spine and reduce the risk of future low back pain.
Stretching: Implement daily stretching exercises that specifically target your lower back, hamstrings, and hip flexors. Loosening up your hips and upper back is a fantastic way to decrease tension on your low back.
Aerobic Exercise: Aerobic activities help to improve blood flow, reduce stiffness, release endorphins, provide opportunities for deep breathing, and contribute to your overall well-being. Exercises like walking, swimming, cycling, rowing, hiking, and running can all be incorporated into your daily or weekly routine. They key is to find an activity that you ENJOY doing so it doesn’t feel like a chore. And, start slowly and gradually increase the intensity of your exercise to avoid exacerbating symptoms.
Sleep Posture to Avoid Low Back Pain
You are sleeping or in bed for up to 1/3 of your day (in a perfect world!) so finding a good sleeping posture for your low back pain is critical. If you are naturally a side sleeper, simply placing a pillow between your knees helps to align your hips and reduce strain on your lower back. For you back sleepers, you will want to place that pillow under your knees to maintain the natural curve in your spine.
And, please, whatever you do – avoid sleeping on your stomach. This position puts increased stress on your low back which can cause increased inflammation while you are sleeping. Stomach sleeping also increases strain on your neck which can cause other problems over time. If you are a stomach sleeper please do everything you can to change this habit now. Your body will thank you for it in the long term.
Lifting Correctly to Prevent Future Low Back Pain
Improper lifting techniques are a common cause of low back pain. If you are already in pain, chances are your body will force you to use proper technique due to pain. Your body will teach you exactly what it needs to allow you to lift without causing more pain and potential injury to your low back. This includes:
- 1Bend your knees – this engages the powerful muscles in your leg
- 2Lift with your legs while keeping the object close to your core
- 3Don’t Overreach – move objects closer before lifting
- 4Phone a friend – to help with heavy or awkward objects
Remember that consistency is key to keeping your low back mobile, flexible, and pain free. Many people will be forced to implement these tips when their back is painful but return to their old habits as the pain decreases. This is why so many people struggle with low back pain throughout their lifetime.
If you are ready to find out the root cause of your low back pain then we encourage you to sign up for one of our Free Discovery Visits. During this visit, we will discuss your journey – your low back pain, what you have already tried, and what your goals are. This will help us to determine if we are the best fit for helping you achieve your goals of living pain free while still doing all the things you want to do.
Or, feel free to call us at 425-658-4944 to sign up for one of our Free Discovery Visits. We can’t wait to help you get “back” to living pain free.