This page is one of my favorite pages on the site, it’s where I give away my knowledge and recommendations for free. It’s the same advice that I give to my patients at my London clinics and is the culmination of hundreds of hours of researching and 12 years of hands-on experience learning what works and what doesn’t. My only request in return is that you, pass on the information to anyone you know who may be suffering.
Lower Back Pain
Lower back pain will be experienced by nearly everyone at some point in their lives. For most people a bit of rest, application of heat and stretches is enough to solve the problem and get on with life. For some people, however, back pain because a lifelong problem which comes and goes and is debilitating. The bad news is the more times it happens, the more likely it is to happen in the future. The good news is that with the right care, you can get better quicker, reduce your chances of recurrence, and reduce the amount of time it takes to get better if you do have a recurrence.
The solution is a combination of mind-body treatments including stretches, exercises, relaxation techniques, lifestyle modification, education, and introspection and reflection to discover the underlying cause and maintaining factors. This may sound daunting and if you have simple back pain (your first episode and it is not severe), a hot bath and stretching may be enough. If it’s more complicated the resources below will guide you through the process.
Initially, when you have an injury a back belt can be a good idea because your back will feel supported, you can also place a cool pack in this Back Belt and speed up the recovery by making it easier to apply cold and the belt can help you to be more careful when moving by increasing awareness. The back belt is also handy if you have to go to work and want something to offer some support and act as a reminder to move in the right way. Every home should have a back belt because it will speed up recovery and is a quick, easy, cheap and effective tool for helping you with back pain.
A caveat is that you should not wear the belt all of the time, as it will weaken the back. The belt is designed for short periods of use when you initially have pain or when you are going to do physical activities such as physical work. It is a tool to help you get active again quickly so that you can strengthen your back up and get out of pain, it is not designed to be used permanently.
Most people use deep heat if they experience back pain but it is not the best thing to use. Deep heat provides the sensation of heat but does not warm the muscle and so does not speed up recovery time. If you want pain relief you are better off using the belt and using the gel pack that comes with it and sides into it. You should freeze the gel and apply it/apply cold if you have a sudden onset of severe back pain. If on the other hand, you have an ongoing dull ache which feels muscular, it is better to apply heat/heat the gel pack in the microwave and insert it into the belt.
Massage has been used for thousands of years in the treatment of back pain and if you would like a cream to massage into the back, then I would recommend Biofreeze Back Cream. It is what I use with my patients and provides a long-lasting cooling (has menthol as an ingredient) sensation which dulls pain so that you can get moving and make a speedier recovery. The cream is an American product and is harder to get in the UK but you can purchase it online.
What if you can’t get to your back to massage it or you do not have someone at home who can massage the cream into the area on a regular basis. If you will find it hard to get a regular massage into the painful area, then the following pressure point is also effective for relieving back pain. It has been used for thousands of years and has countless people ease their pain. Thankfully it is also an easy to reach point compared to the lower back. If you can not massage into the painful area on a regular basis, massage into this point 3x a day.
If you are currently experiencing back pain and have followed the steps so far the next step would be to get moving again. This can sound like annoying advice but it makes sense if you think about it. Why do Lions not get back pain? If they do, why do they get better quickly whilst we can be stuck with it for weeks? When animals experience pain they might rest, or eat some plants for pain relief but then they would adapt their technique and start moving again. This adapting and keeping going is how they survive but is also why they recover quicker.
On the contrary, if we get pain, we may stop all movement and become very cautious about certain movements in the future. This causing a vicious cycle as when we move we get pain, so we do not move, which weakens everything and we end up getting weaker and more susceptible to reinjury. In the wild, this type of behavior would get us killed.
What I am trying to say is, rest but make sure you keep moving too. Find a way to do it which is not too uncomfortable and slowly increase it each day. It is the only way to get better long term.
Initially, you may want to sleep a little longer and take a nap in the day to offload but in your waking hours trying to walk around as much as you can tolerate and break your periods of walking with the following back pain Relief stretches. These are a collection of yoga-based exercises which have been shown to be effective for relieving back pain in clinical studies. They are safe, easy and effective. Do these exercises every 2-3 hours in between you walking around the house and applying ice or heat to the area.
Pain along the lower spine
Band like pain across the back
How to strengthen the back
Sleeping positions for back pain