Back pain is one of the most common physical ailments. Studies show that 8 in 10 Americans have back pain at some point in their lives, usually in the lower back.
Your might have sprained it while working in the yard or cleaning house. Or your back might hurt from an old sports injury or a chronic condition such as arthritis.
Sudden or severe back pain should be checked by a doctor or a physical therapist. That also goes for pain that won’t go away.
But sometimes you can treat nagging pain and discomfort on your own.
Wilson Ray, MD, chief of spine surgery for the Department of Neurological Surgery at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, says home remedies ” tend to be better when they’re combined than [when done] alone.”
1. Keep Moving
You might not feel like it when you’re in pain. But this is probably the first thing your doctor will recommend.
”A common misconception in patients with isolated back pain is that they can’t stay active,” Ray says.
Try to keep up with your usual level of daily activity and movement. It can be a brisk 30-minute walk or circling the block with your dog. Aim to get on your feet at least three times a week.
Being sedentary “allows the muscles around the spine and in the back to become weak,” says Salman Hemani, MD, an assistant professor of orthopedics at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta. “That in turn can cause less support for the spine” and lead to long-term pain.
2. Stretch and Strengthen
Strong muscles, especially in your abdominal core, help support your back. Strength and flexibility may help both relieve your pain and prevent it.
“A lot of times, I encourage people to do that first thing in the morning,” Ray says. But if you’re older or worried about overdoing it, you can stretch and do your strengthening exercises later in the day when your body is warmed up.
Yoga, Pilates, and Tai Chi are just a few of the ways to strengthen your core and the muscles around your hips. One exercise that targets your entire upper and lower back is to lie on your tummy and lift up your legs and arms in the flying position.
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