Back pain is one of the most common physical complaints, so much so that eight out of ten Americans will experience back pain during their lifetime.
It’s also difficult in many cases to determine exactly what causes back pain. It could be due to strained muscles, pregnancy, poor posture, and other factors.
When back pain strikes, the first inclination may be to run to the doctor which can lead to costly care. Before visiting a medical professional, you may want to try these home remedies. Here’s how to fix a bad back at home with these eight self-care tips.
1. Get Hot (or Cold)
Heat or cold therapy is often recommended by many doctors as a form of self-care when treating sore muscles. The key is determining which one works better for you and your back pain.
Applying something cold such as ice, a cold pack, or a freezer bag of frozen vegetables can decrease inflammation, swelling, and pain. Cold therapy is generally recommended following an injury. You should wrap the bag or pack in cloth to prevent frostbite, and apply for no more than 20 minutes at a time.
After the inflammation has subsided, heat therapy can be used to encourage blood flow and healing to the area.
If your back pain is chronic, you should experiment with both to determine which works best for you.
2. Get Moving
It may seem counterintuitive to exercise when your back hurts, as you want to rest. Gentle forms of exercise, however, can help limber up muscles and encourage circulation, which decreases pain.
You can try walking, yoga, and exercises that strengthen your entire core such as half crunches, wall sits, pelvic tilts, and bridging. Hamstring stretches while lying on your back are also good for helping to loosen up muscles again.
Sitting on an exercise ball, if even for a few minutes each day, is a really good workout for your core muscles. It engages both your abs and lower back muscles.
3. Get a New Mattress
Sometimes, getting a new mattress is all that’s needed to address chronic back pain. Older, saggy mattresses don’t offer much back support and can lead to pain.
There’s no one mattress type that’s a fix for all back pain. Generally, a medium to medium-firm mattress is recommended, as anything that is too firm or too soft will not provide adequate support.
You’ll have to do some research into different features such as memory foam and arrangement of coils to find an affordable mattress that you and your back will love. Test them out in person at a mattress store to find the right model that’s comfortable for your back.
4. Massage the Area
Several studies suggest that massage therapy is beneficial in easing back pain. You don’t have to see a professional massage therapist to help your back feel better. You can try massaging the area yourself using any number of home massage products or your own hands.
Or, you could ask your partner or a friend to give you a massage. A gentle massage helps warm up and loosen the muscles and tendons to ease pain.
5. Soak in a Warm Bath
Soaking in a warm (no more than 104 degrees Fahrenheit) bath is a form of hot therapy that can help limber up muscles and ease pain. You can also place a tennis ball between your back and the back of the tub and roll it back and forth to self-massage the area.
Contrary to popular belief, adding Epsom salts will not add any more benefits than the water’s temperature. Instead, try adding a few drops of your favorite essential oil to the water for a pleasant scent.
6. Get an Ergonomic Workstation
We’ve all heard that sitting for long hours all day isn’t good for us. Now imagine how much worse it is for our backs when we’re sitting in a chair that is bad for our posture, and at a desk is at the wrong height.
Making minor adjustments to our chair and computer height can reduce muscle strain and help us to sit up straighter. There are many furniture companies that make ergonomically customized seating and workstations. Investing in one or more of these pieces or adjusting what’s in your home can make a difference.
7. Try a Pain Relief Cream
There are many over-the-counter pain creams formulated just for targeting pain. Try a few brands to see if any have an impact on your sore back.
Look for ones that contain capsaicin, a compound derived from chili peppers. The same component that gives peppers their spice is often added to creams and ointments to numb pain.
8. Boost Your Vitamin D
Although more research is needed, studies are suggesting that getting enough vitamin D may ease chronic pain in the body. If you don’t get drink enough milk and eat food sources that contain vitamin D and you back bothers you, it’s worth a try increasing your intake.
You can also get a dose of vitamin D by soaking up the sunshine during a daily walk. A bonus is that moving your body may also help your sore back. If you suspect you’re not getting enough, take a vitamin D supplement.
When Home Remedies Don’t Work
If at-home care doesn’t improve your back pain, it’s important to consult a doctor. Chronic pain may signal a serious problem that may require professional care or surgery.
You may be referred to a chiropractor who can help align your back and alleviate back pain. This website will give you an idea of the services a chiropractic office provides.
Don’t Know How to Fix a Bad Back? Try These Remedies
In many cases, knowing how to fix a bad back may include any or a combination of the eight remedies above. If one solution doesn’t work, it’s possible another might so be sure to give all of them a try before seeking medical care.
We have plenty more advice and tips on how to save money while improving your health. Check out our latest health and fitness posts!