How To Beat Back Pain - 53 Health & Fitness Experts Share Their Top Tips
Persistent back pain is a common problem that can be hard to shift, so we sought out expert opinion on the best ways to beat it. Find out what they had to say here.
Back pain is a huge problem that affects people of all ages.
And in this modern age where people are spending long hours sitting behind desks for work and living an increasingly sedentary lifestyle, it is a problem that just keeps getting worse.
But while a lack of activity, too much sitting, and poor posture are all major causes of back pain, the problem is still most common for workers who have physically active jobs.
This is because long days of repetitive movements, heavy lifting, bending, twisting, stretching, and grafting can really take it's toll on your back.
So we wanted to get some expert opinions on how people, and especially those with active jobs, could beat the persistent back pain that plagues them.
However while back pain is felt in the body, it's not a purely physical problem.
It is multi-faceted and can be caused by many different things including how you think, how you feel, your lifestyle, your diet, or even your ability to sleep.
So I partnered with Minuca Elena and asked her to conduct an influencer round up post, in which she reached out to 53 experts across various niches to get their opinions on the best ways to beat back pain.
And the specific question we asked them was this:
"What is your top tip for someone with an active job to be able to fight back against persistent back pain?"
We received some great responses from our experts, with advice covering all aspects of how to manage, treat and finally conquer back pain.
And from these answers we found that the following themes emerged:
- Stay active.
- Stretch and strengthen your body.
- Learn how to maintain a good posture.
- Be wary of sitting for long periods.
- Get a good night's sleep.
- Learn how to relax.
- Gain control over your thoughts and emotions.
- Stay healthy in the workplace.
- Eat a balanced diet.
- Create a lifestyle that minimises the risk of back pain.
- Treatments can be effective.
So without further ado, let's start with the expert advice we received for what I consider to be one of the most important things people need to do to get rid of persistent back pain.
And is something that I hope to encourage people to do with the advice I give throughout this website.
Which is to stay active.
Many people wrongly think that they need pills and bed rest when they experience back pain.
However when that back pain is the persistent, chronic kind then the exact opposite is true.
In fact in these cases not moving is the worst thing you can do.
Because when you remain inactive your muscles tighten, shrink and weaken.
And this means your lower back gets less support and is put under increasing pressure and strain, which will only make your back pain worse!
Staying active on the other hand will bring you a multitude of benefits that will help your back such as:
- Strengthening and lengthening your muscles which increases the amount of support your lower back receives.
- Increasing your flexibility and range of motion.
- Improving your circulation which helps your aching muscles to heal and repair.
- Releasing endorphins that act as the body's natural painkiller by blocking pain signals from reaching the brain.
- Improving your mood and confidence which helps you to be more able to deal with your back pain.
- Reducing the levels of pain you feel.
So if you suffer from chronic back pain, staying active is absolutely crucial to keep your back strong and healthy.
And on this point our experts unanimously agree.
Wendie Howland - Howland Health Consulting
I worked with back injury rehabilitation patients for a long time, and the very best advice I ever heard a physician give a patient, and that I have used innumerable times with patients myself since is this:
“There is a difference between dangerous pain and non-dangerous pain.”
Most back pain is not dangerous, even pain in the immediate post-op period.
But people are scared— they’re scared they will never be right, they will never be able to do normal activity, or work to support themselves and their families, will never be free of pain.
And we all know that fear makes pain worse.
So if a person has back pain, he usually decreases his movement because it hurts.
And as a consequence the muscles involved in movement, posture, and gait shorten up.
Then when the person asks those muscles to do something, they feel discomfort; so they do less, and the muscles shorten more.
Pretty soon, nothing doesn’t hurt, and the person is confirmed in his fear that he will never be able to be normal again because even a normal movement is now painful!
However when people are liberated from fear, they are so often able to move forward with their lives.
And in so doing, their backs get loosened up, the muscles lengthen and become stronger, and they actually heal.
But this only happens when they know the difference between non-dangerous and dangerous pain— which is accompanied by very specific other signs— and they start to improve.
We tell them that since nobody gets through life without occasional back pain, (even people who have never had an injury, right?) we will teach them to do their own first aid for the inevitable exacerbations.
Anti-inflammatory's, gentle movement, but not NO movement, and then gradual resumption of activities; when to seek pro-PT help for some update on self-help or a tune-up, and when to see a physician.
Thus empowered, and relieved of fear, they are much better positioned to succeed. And they do.
Lauren Lobert - APEX Physical Therapy
Chronic back pain can be a frustrating, scary and exhausting experience but there are a few things that are important to remember.
First of all, not moving is the worst thing you can do as it has been shown to cause your pain to last longer and become worse.
And it will be even harder to return to normal activities if you stop doing everything.
So it's important to stay active, within reason, keep your symptoms tolerable, and make modifications as necessary.
Absolute rest is not the solution.
It is also important to understand that as your back pain becomes persistent and chronic, your brain becomes really good at telling your body that it’s in pain.
Pain is supposed to be an indicator of tissue damage, however, as your pain becomes chronic your alarm system becomes more and more sensitive and gets better at indicating pain.
Your pain is then no longer an indication of the health of your tissues. This should help ease your mind and understand that this is not a death sentence.
Bulging discs and arthritis may sound scary, however, a large percentage of people without back pain have these findings on an MRI.
This does not mean you are doomed; as a matter of fact, the majority of bulging discs spontaneously resolve within a few months when a repeat MRI is performed.
Lastly, remember not to get frustrated or down about your situation as that will only increase your pain! Hang in there and keep moving. It will get better!
Simon Fox - Personal Training Mitcham
My number one tip for anyone with back pain, active or not, is to move!
Because the body will become dysfunctional through a sedentary life.
And from clinical experience, getting the bodies biomechanically moving correctly is the key.
So activate your core correctly from your pelvic floor, not your abdominals.
Strengthen your glute muscles to support your lower back.
And finally, do strength training to prevent atrophy of postural muscles.
By preventing the loss of muscles in your torso and lower limbs, you will prevent postural weaknesses in the pelvis and spine.
So, my best tip is to not accept an active job as a substitution for strength training exercises as it just does not work.
Stretch & Strengthen Your Body
So now you know that you need to stay active to beat back pain, but which kinds of activities and exercises should you be doing?
This can be a confusing question for some people, as they may be frightened of doing their backs more damage by exercising.
However if you choose the right kinds of exercise they can be a real godsend for your back.
For instance, activities that increase you overall aerobic fitness such as walking, swimming and cycling have been found to be great for reducing back pain when performed regularly and to a moderate intensity.
And our experts also stressed the importance of stretching and strengthening exercises as a vital part of being able to get rid of persistent back pain.
As these are great for lengthening and strengthening your muscles, which provides your lower back with a greater level of support.
And they also help to keep your body balanced and aligned, which is great for your posture and takes the strain off your lower back.
In fact this was the most common theme among all our expert responses!
Liliana Gala - EDX CrossFit
My tip for someone with an active job dealing with back pain is to stop stretching your back by forward folding and to start a core strengthening regimen, like pilates or weight lifting.
Being active doesn’t always equate to being strong.
Because the stabilizing muscles around our spine and lower back can get overused quickly when there isn’t enough mobility in the muscles in the front of our bodies combined with weakened core musculature.
Here is how to get rid of back pain:
1. Get to the heart of the issue: Understanding
The hip flexors are muscles that originate in the front of the pelvis and insert into the lumbar spine in your lower back.
When you sit, this muscle is shortened in length.
And when sitting for prolonged periods of time (like so many of us do), these muscles will get frozen in that position and will start to pull on your lower back thus causing back pain/discomfort.
This is the cause of most peoples back issues.
2. What you can do
The best thing to do for these tight (and shortened) muscles is to stretch them with a hip-flexor stretch.
Get into a deep lunge position, with your back knee on the floor. Now do a little belly crunch to tuck your pelvis under (or posteriorly) to give yourself a flat back.
This will increase the stretch in those hip flexors.
Muscles take a minimum of 20 seconds to start to relax and release, so hold this position until you feel the muscle letting go.
I call that the “taffy moment.”
3. Don’t make it worse
Many people will intuitively think that because it’s their back that is bothering them, that they should stretch it.
This is exactly what you should stay away from.
So avoid any forward bending stretches, as this will aggravate the issue and keep you stuck in the pain cycle.
Your back muscles have actually been weakened by many hours/days/years of sitting and need time to be strengthened.
The deadlift is a great hinge pattern movement that will strengthen not only your back, but your whole posterior chain (back side).
Assuming there is no acute injury (like a herniated disk) and as long as the movement is done with proper form, this is the best thing you can do for your back pain.
4. Strengthen your core
Your “core” isn’t just your ab muscles, your "core" muscles are the ones that lay deepest and closest to your bones, called your intrinsic muscles.
You also have an extrinsic set of muscles, which are your “shell” muscles.
Those are the ones we see when we get “toned,” but it’s actually your core muscles that are your prime movers, and have to do with the stability of your bones and even posture.
To strengthen these muscles, start a weight lifting or pilates program that focuses on this.
If you’re not sure what to do, hire an excellent fitness professional with a great reputation to get you going.
Robert Herbst - W8lifterusa.com
My number one tip to get rid of back pain is to do some stretching exercises every morning first thing.
The program takes less than five minutes and involves stretching and strengthening the lower back and hamstrings. It has helped me and I have shown it to others who say it has changed their life.
My routine is very simple and should be done first thing in the morning after one walks around a little, brushes their teeth, etc. just to get out the initial stiffness.
Firstly lie down on the bed or floor on your back and bring your left knee up to your chest, pull it up a little higher with your hands and hold it there for five seconds. Then straighten your leg. Repeat this with your right leg.
Next, bend your left leg and bring it up to your chest and return it straight ten times. Repeat that with your right leg.
Then with the leg straight, raise your left leg up until it is at a right angle with your body and lower it ten times. Repeat that with your right leg.
Next, bending the legs at the knee, bring both legs together up to your chest ten times.
Finally, lying flat on the bed or floor, force your lower back down onto the surface ten times. Then, keeping your buttocks on the surface, arch your lower back ten times.
That is it.
This can be followed by some other stretches for problem areas. For example, I then bring each leg up straight and hold it for five seconds to stretch my hamstrings.
I also bring each leg up to my chest individually with knee bent and move it in a circle with my arms five times for hip mobility.
This routine should be done daily as it will loosen the lower back and hamstrings and build strength to decrease or eliminate pain.
Also, if the person breathes and thinks mindfully when doing it, it will help relax them and center them for the day ahead.
Carol Michaels - Carol Michaels Fitness
Back pain develops for many reasons including lifestyle, genetics, ergonomics, sports injuries, or simply for unknown reasons.
And of all the therapies that are available for back pain, exercise is the one with consistent evidence that it works.
We are always told to strengthen our core when we suffer from back pain.
In general, the “core” includes any muscle that attaches to the lower back or pelvis and can affect the stability of or movement of the trunk.
Unfortunately, some of us are not told to strengthen our butt muscles, and poor gluteal strength is the cause of much of our back pain.
This is because the gluteal muscles help to support the entire body, and when they are weak it places too much stress on other body parts. Which makes sense since this is a huge muscle group.
As a consequence strong gluteals can also act as a shock absorber, which may reduce pain and injuries.
So many of us are inactive and sit for hours on end which only weakens the gluteals and tightens the hip flexors.
Therefore a good strength-training program should include strengthening exercises for your glutes.
Brad Walker - Stretch Lab
Pain in the Upper Back
This is often caused by tightness in your chest or shoulders, and stretching out your back won't always help that pain.
Instead, try opening your chest standing upright and clasping your hands together behind your back.
Keep your arms straight and slowly lift your hands upwards.
Lower Back Pain
Soreness in your lower back could actually mean tight hip muscles.
So instead of extending your back, kneel on the floor, with one foot and the opposite knee. If needed, hold on to something to keep your balance and then gently push your hips forward
Proper stretching can help abate some of the symptoms of chronic back pain.
Gary Frayter - Personal Trainer
As someone who used to suffer from chronic back pain, I would recommend seeking medical attention first to ensure that it isn’t anything that would require surgery.
So a chiropractor or physical therapist is someone I would see first.
For my clients with persistent back pain I recommend stretching daily, as it's a good way to minimise the pain.
I recommend stretching daily using different types of lower back stretches, as well as hamstring stretches because oftentimes tight hamstrings can cause you to have a tight lower back.
I would also work on strengthening the back by doing exercises such as lat pulldowns as well as low rows; this will help improve your posture as well as strengthen your back muscles.
And one of the best bodyweight exercises you can do is holding a plank.
This will strengthen your core and ultimately keep your body stronger, as well as help improve posture and strengthen your lower back.
And if you work behind a desk, take a few minutes out of your day to work on your upper and middle back mobility.
You can do this by doing cat & cows, as well as doing the “World’s Greatest Stretch”, because it targets every major muscle in the body — especially the ones we tend to overuse sitting at a desk or a computer all day.
Lyndsay Hirst - Your Pilates Physio
If you look at all the research into which is the best treatment for chronic back pain, it is exercise.
Core stabilizing exercises are particularly well researched at reducing back pain and there are some positive recent research studies on the use of core stabilizing exercises to reduce back pain.
So my top tip for anyone with an active job to fight back against back pain would be to do some core stabilizing exercises.
Learn how to use the core muscles to support the spine during movement.
Maintaining joint and muscle flexibility is also advised so your body can cope with the demands a physical job places on it.
Also, look after your spine!
I see lots of manual/active workers in my job who suffer back pain and they almost always present the same in that they have lots of strength in their big global muscles and weakness in their local stabilizer muscles.
This lack of core stability is why they develop recurrent back pain.
To combat this they would need to work on their local core stabilisers with exercise such as clinical pilates.
If they can build strength and control in the muscles that support the spine they are less likely to suffer problems.
Also maintaining flexibility in the spine and hips is important to stop joint restriction causing problems.
Lesley Logan - Lesley Logan Pilates
You must challenge and strengthen your whole body, not just the moves that your body does at work.
The good news for this population is they are already used to moving around, and the demands on their body are high.
But it’s easy to become super dominant in one area of the body.
And, this is where back pain and other body pains start to fester and then become a problem.
So it’s extremely important that they do full body functional movement training.
A pilates mat class or private session including the reformer, cadillac, and other equipment would be ideal.
Pilates allows the dominant muscle groups to take a moment so the rest of the bodies muscles can fine tune and get strong.
I like to tell people in short:
Pilates strengthens what’s loose and loosens what’s tight.
It also helps you do everything you are already doing better.
And because Pilates focuses on moving from the center, and all the exercises challenge the whole body in all different planes and ways, it will help them continue to be active at work and continue to meet the demands.
A Pilates lesson is usually 55 min and it’s flowing the whole time. It not only strengthens the core to help alleviate back pain but it teaches the body endurance too.
Phyl London - Bodiphy
As a Pilates instructor, I am always working with clients who suffer from back pain.
And for such a simple phrase, back pain is actually incredibly complicated.
One of the most common causes of lower back pain is weak abdominals.
When our ab muscles are weakened, our posture suffers, and this puts strain on our spine and results in pain all over our backs, especially our lower backs.
Pilates exercises target the abdominal muscles – both large and small – in a way that improves posture.
By consistently engaging these muscles, we are training our body to function the way it’s supposed to function.
This in turn helps improve posture and movement, and therefore can relieve chronic back pain.
There is a lot of education showing that the pelvic floor activation in pilates will also engage the lumbar facia which will help to stabilize the lumbar spine, so it’s important to prevent or rehab back pain.
However pilates isn’t the only thing I recommend to reduce back pain.
I also suggest you use a natural pain cream, specifically Medterra’s CBD pain cream.
The combination of the natural abilities of the CBD to reduce inflammation plus the strengthening techniques provided in pilates is the winning combination to reduce lower back pain.
Michelle Linane - Love Teaching Yoga
A few twists a day will help the spine maintain its normal range of motion and create suppleness in the joints, vertebral disks and soft tissues.
Regular movement of the spinal joints, such as twisting, helps produce synovial fluid which lubricates the joints and contributes to overall spinal health.
Twisting can also open the chest, counterbalancing a rounded or hunched spine which tightens the chest and can contribute to back pain.
For safe twisting, follow these simple guidelines:
1. Lengthen the spine. Sit or stand tall by lengthening up through the head, while lengthening down through the lower back and hips.
2. Initiate the twist from the mid-spine (the section of the spine where the ribs attach).
3. Turn the mid-spine into a twist that feels comfortable, and then bring the lower back into the twist. Again, only to a comfortable position that doesn’t feel straining.
4. Once the mid-spine and lower back are twisting, it’s safe to bring the neck into the twist, but only if it feels good.
5. Breathe. Take 5 rounds of a slow deep breath (breathing fully into the chest and belly) on each side. Repeat 2-3 times as needed.
6. Don’t push too far. Gradually over time, you’ll restore your range of motion and be able to twist deeper.
Caleb Backe - Maple Holistics
1. Take the load off your spine
Back pain is caused and exacerbated by your frame having to overcompensate for your weak muscles.
So if you find yourself in constant back pain from physical labor, it’s because your back is doing too much work.
To remedy this your muscles need to get stronger to take the load off your back.
2. Strength training
Working with a trainer on how to strengthen your muscles will go a long way giving your back a break. otherwise here are a couple of ways you can relieve the weight load on your back.
Dead-lifts– if performed incorrectly – like all weight training – can exacerbate back pain.
Deadlifts are a leg strengthening exercise, and to do it properly it’s important not to let your shoulders compensate.
Your hands are there to hold the barbell while your legs are there to lift the weight.
You start in the squatting position and lift the weight until your knees lock.
The whole time you're lifting your back should be bent and you should be staring forward- that means you should avoid bending your neck.
This will teach you to lift with your legs and not your back.
Core strength– your stomach is the muscle most related to the state of your posture.
There are a lot of exercises that will strengthen your core, but many of them, done wrong, can lead to back pain.
Therefore it's most important to incorporate your abs in all of your exercises.
Do everything, from getting a coffee to deadlifting, while focusing on tightening your core.
Before you know it you’ll be strong enough to do exercises like planks and sit-ups without using your back.
Lasse Home - Outdoor Fit Lab
If you suffer from lower back pain, should you run or not?
Back pain is a common but often overlooked running annoyance because it can strain your back, especially if your back and abdominal muscles are weak.
And also if your hip flexors are tight. as the tightness of the muscles may drive to uneven hips, which causes an extra load to your back.
So if your back pain is intermittent, get your back and abdominal muscles in shape and stretch the pelvis.
But if the pain is hard and uncomfortable – go to the sports physio or doctor.
Tight hip flexors are the number one problem for many runners, so remember to stretch those.
And even if your back hurts, try to be active instead of taking a pill.
Learn How To Maintain A Good Posture
Being able to maintain a healthy posture, whether you are sitting, standing, or moving around, is really important if you want to live a life free from back pain.
This is because when you hold your body in a good posture it remains balanced and aligned.
And as such the gravitational pressure and pull that all our bodies are constantly under is able to be spread evenly.
However when you adopt a poor posture your body becomes unbalanced.
This can lead to it being forced to compensate, which means certain areas come under increasing strain and pressure.
And the area that usually ends up bearing the brunt of this extra load is your lower back.
So it's no surprise that this can result in an aching and unhappy back!
Let's take a look at what our experts had to say about how improving posture can reduce persistent back pain.
Dr Todd Goldman - Total Chiropractic Care
One of the most important elements you can use to help you prevent a recurrence of back pain is paying attention to your posture.
So sit in an ergonomically designed chair but make sure you use it properly by sitting all the way back and placing your feet on the floor or a footrest.
And if you stand for most of the day, stand straight with your shoulders back and your ears and the middle of your shoulders aligned with your hips.
If you're lifting, stand in front of the object you're picking up and bend at the knees.
Try not to twist your torso and instead turn your whole body while placing the object in another spot.
And if you can, stretch throughout the day and try not to stay in one position for over 30 minutes.
Even if you can only change your position for a minute or two, it will be less likely that the muscles in your spine will start to tighten up.
Alessa Caridi - JobuFIT
My tips to get rid of back pain start from the bottom and work the way up:
1. Check your feet when walking
We need to re-establish a mind-body connection. This can solve body pain not only in the back but also the knees, hips, and neck.
We think our toes are pointing forward, but more often than not we are walking like a duck or pigeon-toed.
Solving this problem is as easy as looking at our feet periodically and checking our gait - so make sure you are walking heel-ball-toe.
2. Stand tall
Don’t lift from your chest (this will cause your back to arch), instead pretend one strand of hair at the top of your head is being pulled up.
This will keep your spine in the proper curve and eliminate pain that comes from improper alignment.
Long story short: proper posture will get the correct muscles working to help you stay more alert and productive AND minimize body pain.
Dr William Charschan - Charschan Chiropractic & Sports Injury Associates
Know your body style.
If you are asymmetrically built, support the hips from the ground up.
The right insert in your shoes or the right sandal will level the hips and reduce back pain and strain which can affect not only the lower but the upper body.
Do posterior chain exercises such as bird dogs, supermans, lateral leg raises and gluteal kicks. Bridges are also helpful.
Consider a sit-stand desk and avoid bending forward with the legs straight, which will strain the back.
Dr Steven Weiniger - Body Zone
Chronic back pain is multi-dimensional, with physical, emotional and psychological dimensions.
And it frequently begins with a bout of acute back pain, possibly traumatic, or possibly from a non-specific cause.
Either way, patterns of posture and motion shift set the stage for chronicity, which is why addressing posture is an often neglected facet of managing low back pain.
So #1 Tip: Be posture aware.
And a great way to begin exercising your posture towards symmetry is by standing tall and balancing on one leg.
Another way to build awareness is to take a picture.
Be Wary Of Sitting For Long Periods
Sitting is often referred to as the new smoking, because prolonged periods of sitting down can be seriously damaging for your health.
And especially for your back.
This is a major problem for a couple of reasons:
- Compressed vertebrae - When you are sitting down your vertebrae become compressed, and over time this can lead to a weakening of your spinal discs.
- Weakened muscles - Your muscles remain inactive when you are sitting (especially those that help to support your spine), and this causes them to weaken and tighten up.
And if you sit with a poor posture (as most of us do!), then these problems get even worse.
So long periods on your sofa or behind your desk can mean your spine becomes less flexible, less protected and less supported.
Which puts it under increased pressure and strain and can only lead to one thing... pain!
So let's take a look at what our experts came up with on the topic of getting rid of back pain from sitting.
Dr Len Lopez - Dr Len Lopez TV
The most common cause of almost all back pain that I see in my practice and those I train is associated with muscle imbalance caused by sitting.
And the common enemy or problem is tight hip flexors and hamstrings
Because when you sit, especially for more than an hour at a time, you tighten/shorten your hip flexors and hamstrings.
This is a big problem because your hip flexors (psoas and iliacus) attach to the inside of your thigh and front of your lumbar disc and vertebrae.
So when this muscle gets shorter or tighter it places compressive pressure on the spine, which can lead to disc bulges, etc.
And as your hamstrings attach at the ischial tuberosity they pull the pelvis back when they become tighter.
In essence groups of muscle aren’t pulling equally.
And muscles are like guitar strings.
They all need to be wound to a certain tension to play beautiful music, but if one string (muscle) is too tight then you don’t get pretty music and it can lead to potential aches and pain.
So here is a simple DIY test to see if your hip flexors are part of the problem.
Lay flat on the floor, with your legs straight for a minute and take note of how your back feels.
After a minute bend both knees, with the bottoms of your feet flat on the floor.
How do you feel? Does that make your back feel better, or does it stay the same or worse?
If you answered yes (better), it is an obvious sign that your hip flexors are too tight and the reason it feels better when you bend your knees is that you are no longer stretching or extending your hip flexors to their normal length.
Due to all the sitting, your hip flexors have become shorter and don’t like being fully extended.
Sometimes, my patients will immediately answer this simple diagnostic test because as soon as they lay face up they immediately bend their knees because they know it makes them feel better.
And FYI, as a strength coach it's obviously important not to injure my clients.
So if they show signs of having tight hip flexors we absolutely don’t want them doing various exercises that further tighten their hip flexors such as:
- Leg raises.
- Hanging leg raises.
- Ab rollers, etc.
Aideen Turner - Virtual Physical Therapists
Low back pain is very common, with 80% of Americans experiencing an episode at some point in their life.
For the majority of people (67%) their pain abates within 2-3 month.
Others however are left with chronic pain and disability because they had poor or inadequate care.
But the majority of back pain is mechanical in nature and easy to treat with education.
And the most common cause of low back pain is poor sitting.
This is because when we sit slouched for extended periods of time, we put a constant posterior pressure on our discs and soft tissue until they give way, causing a disc bulge and eventually a herniation.
Before an injury, we usually have warning signs of “stiffness” when first getting out of a chair, but once we take a few steps the stiffness goes away because the mechanical stress is removed.
A bulge and herniation are simply tears in the disc, similar to a cut on your knuckle.
When you bend the knuckle the tear opens but if you avoid stressing the cut with bending then it heals within a few days.
A disc is the same way. Depending on where the cut is located in the disc, anterior, posterior or to one side – that is the direction you would avoid stressing for a few days.
And the most important thing when you have this back pain is to AVOID bedrest.
Instead stay active within your abilities and have an assessment to find a directional preference.
Dr Karen Joubert - Joubert Physical Therapy
We all have to sit at some point throughout the day and let’s face it, we all have the occasional ouch in the low back.
So here are some secrets to keep your back healthy.
Rule #1. Don’t stretch.
Yes, I said it. Do not stretch.
If you are feeling some pain, it means you need to get your body out of the current situation.
So move, march in place, walk for a few minutes. Because stretching will only make it worse, while blood flow from moving will make it feel better.
Rule #2. You don’t have to get on the floor for exercise.
Sometimes it may be hard to get down on the floor to exercise because of your back pain, so use the wall for some support instead.
Lean against the wall, and try gentle isometrics ab squeezes x10.
You can also roll your hips back and forth, but the rule is that you must feel better and it should not hurt.
Rule #3. Try buttocks squeezes.
Contract your buttocks, count 1-2-3, then relax. Repeat this 10 times.
And if you are feeling even better, turn and face the wall, lift one leg out to the side and then do the other leg. Repeat this 20 times.
Many times when we can create movement away from the ache in the back, it should help to release the pain.
So think outside the box, move around the pain, and don’t make the area of pain do the work.
Get A Good Night's Sleep
Being able to get a good night's sleep is one of the best things you can do, not just for your back, but for your overall health and well-being.
As among other things it can:
- Help your tired and aching muscles to heal and repair.
- Improve your physical condition.
- Maintain your mental well-being.
- Boost your immune system.
- Lower your blood pressure.
- Give you more energy throughout the day.
- Improve your concentration and memory.
However unfortunately for those of us with back pain, it can quite a hard thing to come by.
Because many studies have found that sleep problems are sadly common among people with back pain, with one study finding that as many as 78% of people with chronic back pain were struggling with their sleep.
But don't despair, because there are things you can do to give yourself a better chance of sleeping well, including:
- Removing electronics from your bedroom.
- Limiting the amount of caffeine and alcohol you drink.
- Learning how to relax your body and mind in preparation for sleep.
- Developing good sleeping habits.
And our experts came up with a few tips of their own to help you too.
Sveti Williams - The Sleepologist
When it comes to pain management it is crucial to evaluate quality and quantity of sleep.
That’s because insomnia and back pain really go hand in hand, and in fact in a recent study it has been shown that approximately 2/3 of people who suffer from back pain also have disrupted sleep.
It is also important to know that studies have also shown that disruptive sleep actually exacerbates back pain, which means aches and pains are heightened.
And on top of that everything else is much more difficult without proper sleep. So it is much more pronounced in people suffering from back pain.
So in treating back pain, it is very important to determine if the patient suffers from insomnia, because it can definitely aggravate the back pain itself and complicate the treatment.
Studies also show that pain disorders are likely to develop in people with poor sleep, because when we suffer from insomnia our pain control center is not regulated efficiently by our brain.
Jonathan Prichard - Mattress Insider
Not all chronic back pain problems are related to repetitive strain or injury from active movement at work.
Some back problems can be created by sources we might not even think about.
And of course, being from a mattress company, we’re going to tell you that you should investigate your mattress.
Because whether you’re a side, back, or stomach sleeper, a bad mattress can either create a new back pain or exacerbate problems that you may already have with your back.
So here are some things to consider when it comes to getting a mattress that can help a bad back:
If you’ve been sleeping on a coil/spring mattress, you might want to look into latex, which can be as firm as a coil mattress.
Alternatively, you might want to look into memory foam, which is softer (generally speaking), but allows your body to be a little more cushioned by the mattress.
If you’ve been sleeping on your mattress for more than 10 years it doesn’t matter what kind of mattress you have, it's probably time to start looking for something new..
As lumps and ridges can form where you DON’T sleep on the bed, and valleys can form where you DO sleep on the bed.
And these ridges and valleys can force your body into habitual patterns and positions which may or may not be good for your posture or back.
When people call MattressInsider.com, we always work hard to learn a lot about their preferences and sleeping habits.
But whether or not you call our company, whoever you get your mattress from should get to know you, your issues, and the challenges you’re having with maintaining your back health.
Because the salesperson/consultant should make recommendations for a mattress that are based on you (rather than being based on what will earn the salesperson the highest commission).
An easy way to find out if someone is going to sell you what’s actually best for you is to ask them if they work on commission.
There are plenty of people who work on commissions who do care about getting you the right product, but you should also go into the interaction aware of what their motivations may be for selling you one product vs. another.
In an ideal world you’re going to spend at least 1/3 of each day lying on a mattress.
And even if the demands of your job dictate you get less than 8 hours of sleep a night, at least 1 / 4 of each day will be spent lying in bed on average.
So make sure to look at your mattress as a place where you can work to improve your back health and/or fix your back pain.
Shem Bruce - Fantastic Plumbers
When your job involves constant bending and applying force or pressure when bent, which is what plumbers do, sooner or later back pain gets you.
And that’s why I had to learn how to fight back against back pain both on a daily basis and in the long term.
For a start I learnt to always sleep sideways because that’s how you put less pressure on your spine.
And if I need to sleep with my chest facing the bed, I try to put a pillow under my stomach to relieve my spine.
But if you’re too tired to sleep sideways or facing the mattress, you can still help your back ease the stress as you lay on your back.
The one trick I can share is to place a pillow under your legs, preferably your knees.
Also use specialized shoes or at least ergonomic insoles, because when it comes to pain relief, orthotics are invaluable.
And of course, a good mattress and pillow are an absolute must for any tradesman.
Last but not least – stretch at least once every 2 or 3 hours.
You don’t have to do yoga for an hour, but taking a few minutes of simple exercise will help your muscles to loosen up and thus you can fight stiffness.
Learn To Relax
Being able to relax is not the easiest thing to do when you suffer from persistent back pain.
However it is so important to learn how to relax if you want to reduce your pain levels.
Because when you are stressed out and anxious, your body has a tendency to hold this tension in your muscles.
And this can lead to aches and pains all over, as well as forcing you into a hunched posture that increases the strain and pressure on your lower back.
So it's a great idea to allocate time in your daily routine to relax and unwind.
And you need to do this in two ways:
- Find ways to take your mind off the pain.
- Release the tension from your tight and aching muscles.
Now there are plenty of ways you can acheive these goals such as:
- Getting a massage (or giving yourself a massage).
- Taking some exercise.
- Meditating or practicing deep breathing exercises.
- Taking a hot bath.
- Doing something you enjoy, such as painting, listening to music, reading, etc.
And for more suggestions here's what our experts had to say on the subject.
Cindy Perlin - Alternative Pain Treatment Directory
The most important thing for someone to do if they are prone to back pain is to manage their stress.
Because the vast majority of back pain is muscle-generated and muscles need rest to recover.
And if the person is stressed (angry, fearful, worried), their muscles will remain tense and will not rest and recover.
Stress management techniques include meditation, diaphragmatic breathing, body scanning, autonomic suggestion, progressive relaxation and positive visualization.
Also biofeedback, which uses sensitive electronic instruments to measure physiology, teaches the person how to control their bodies, and helps people to master relaxation by giving them feedback on how well they have succeeded.
It's also really important to get a good and comfortable sleep.
Kedar Nath - The Yogi Press
Back pain (as with most cases of physical pain) is not only present in the body, but also in the mind.
So a backache must be dealt with on a physical level, but as long as they live within the mind, they are able to manifest over and over.
First, it is important to practice awareness.
Most cases of backaches arise from poor posture; they are self-created.
Spending hours every day sitting at our desks in front of a computer screen is no holiday for our backs.
And the existence of smartphones and our habit of looking down whilst we text only worsens the situation.
So it is important for us to remain aware at all times, and remember to correct our posture whilst seated, and send texts by holding our phones at our face level.
And in order to completely eliminate backaches from our mind, we must practice meditation.
Because often stress and anxiety manifest in our bodies due to repressed emotions.
Yoga Nidra – also known as the psychic sleep, is a type of meditation which works with the subconscious mind.
It can help bring back repressed memories to our conscious awareness.
And by viewing our repressions, we are often liberated from them right there and then, thus eliminating the stressor from our minds for good.
Leslie Laya Raznick - Holistic Health Coach
My top tip to fight back against persistent back pain during your active day is don’t fight back.
Instead take a minute to stop what you’re doing, close your eyes, take a deep breath and drop in to feel what you’re feeling.
Because allowing yourself to be present with chronic pain rather than armoring against it will shift your ‘fight or flight’ brain chemical cascade to a ‘rest and digest’ brain chemical cascade.
Which will relax your muscles and release panic, leading to a reduction in your pain.
Elise Marie Collins - Yoga & Health Coach
My top tip for someone who has chronic back pain is to spend about 15-30 minutes a day in a restorative yoga pose.
So I would recommend finding a good restorative yoga teacher and getting some private lessons and or going to a restorative yoga class once or twice a week.
In class you will learn how to relax in supported yoga poses that unwind tension in the lower back and lumbar spine, as well as other areas of the spine.
In addition, restorative yoga activates the parasympathetic response in the nervous system (rest and digest), which is essential for healing the nervous system.
Part of the problem with lower back pain is that the pain itself can create an imbalance in the nervous system.
Often there is referred pain and other chronic tension issues, so when the nervous system relaxes, the whole body can heal the backlog of tension and stress created after the original injury or pain.
All physical issues can begin to be addressed and healed once we start to activate the parasympathetic nervous system.
Gain Control Over Your Thoughts & Emotions
Back pain isn't just a physical problem, what's going on in your mind and how you feel can also have a big influence over whether you feel pain or not.
Now I'm not saying the pain is all in your head!
But studies have shown that how you think and feel about pain is directly correlated with how much pain you feel and your ability to cope with it.
Because it your pain fills you with anger, frustration and a negative attitude, then it can increase tension in your body and stop you from doing the things you need to do to take care of yourself (and your back).
Staying positive on the other hand will leave you feeling more relaxed, and make it more likely that you'll engage in the kind of lifestyle that will help to eliminate your pain.
So to fight back against persistent back pain you need to stay in control of your thoughts and emotions.
And here's some advice our experts gave us on doing just that.
Dr Zachary Rethorn - Physical Therapist & Health Coach
Scientific research over the last ten years has shown that a predictor of recovery from back pain is psychological health, including remaining optimistic about recovery, having good social support, and coping skills.
So know that you aren’t broken.
Most of the time, there is no serious structural problem in the back.
Therefore persistent pain is best thought of as a ‘pain problem’ more than a ‘back problem', and the good news is that the ‘bark’ of persistent pain is almost always worse than the ‘bite'.
And engaging in your normal activities is one of the best ways to fight back against this persistent pain.
So continue performing meaningful activities and spending time with family and friends, as this can be an effective way to mitigate the impact of persistent pain.
And there are lots of ways to positively influence the course of persistent pain – most related to lifestyle.
Some good questions to ask yourself are:
- Am I engaging in exercise or physical activity for 30 minutes 5 days per week?
- Am I eating healthy foods - mostly plants and little or no junk food?
- Am I getting 7-9 hours of sleep and feeling rested in the morning?
- Am I refraining from smoking and drinking alcohol in excess?
- Do I have a positive social support system?
Dr David Clarke - Stress Illness
It is estimated that about 30% of chronic back pain is due to structural abnormalities, while 70% is due to psychological stress and/or repressed emotions.
However distinguishing between these is a challenge because the majority of people over 40 years of age have spine abnormalities associated with aging but not with pain. (Jensen, NEJM, 1994)
In light of this, it is essential to be evaluated for both issues.
So an MRI or X-ray to look at the spine is great, but you also need an assessment for life stresses, adequacy of self-care skills, the long-term impact of adversity in childhood or undiagnosed depression, post-traumatic stress or anxiety.
If the latter is found and there is any uncertainty about the contribution of a structural abnormality to the pain, then the psychological issues should be treated before undergoing anything invasive for the spine.
Veronica Parker - Meditation Coach
My top tip for someone with persistent back pain, of course, is to meditate.
Setting aside just 15 minutes a day can make a huge impact not only on your mental outlook, but also on your actual physical health.
Meditating first thing in the morning as you start your day is ideal.
The idea is to sit or lay down. Gently close your eyes and focus on your breath. Inhale deeply through the nose and then exhale fully. Inhaling to the count of 4. Holding your breath for 4. Exhaling for 4 is a great pattern to try during meditation.
Thoughts are normal during meditation, so instead of fighting or pushing them away you just come back to the breath.
This is exactly what you do with your pain during meditation.
Instead of fighting, resisting or pushing it away, you simply let it do its thing and you just come back to focus on your breath.
Inhale in. Exhale out. Inhale. Exhale. It’s not always easy to do, but if you practice it enough, you can positively train your mind to know what to do.
And the more you practice, the easier it becomes.
The best part about it is your mind will continue to do the same when you are not meditating and you are experiencing pain.
So it will remember the great habit you created during meditation and it will simply go back to the breath.
And in time, the pain might begin to ease up or even disappear. I can attest to this myself as I used to have horrible sciatic pain.
Meditation is a powerful tool to train your mind to focus on creating what you wish to experience in your life.
Francisco Mendizabal - Hack Self
Practicing mindfulness meditation regularly, and then focusing the experience on that area of our body, decreases the suffering.
This is because pain is physical, and suffering is psychological.
With mindfulness, you learn to disassociate the two, and science has shown that patients who practice it experience less “pain” (suffering).
So I’d recommend developing some form of ongoing mindfulness meditation practice. 10 minutes a day will do. Consistency is more important than length with meditation.
People who practice mindfulness meditation (there are many types of meditation, even under “mindfulness”, but most common mindfulness ones will do) feel less physical pain, according to science.
And a regular mindfulness practice will train the individual, among other things, to be able to feel pain like another “sensation”.
Because pain without the thoughts resisting it (“this sucks”, etc) is just a physical sensation like any other.
So practicing mindfulness will greatly reduce the suffering.
Because your thoughts are managed better, instead of the individual identifying with every thought (which is what happens with most people who don’t meditate).
Stay Healthy In The Workplace
Back pain, strains, pulls, and musculoskeletal injuries are extremely common amongst active workers.
And when you consider the long hours spent grafting every day with repetitive motions, bending, twisting, stretching and lifting, it's not really that much of a surprise is it?
But pain at work doesn't have to be inevitable.
In fact it can be avoided completely if you learn how to work smart.
So let's hear what our experts recommended to allow us to stay pain-free at work.
Graham Hewitt - Raised Floor Solutions
For anybody working in construction or similar physical jobs, it’s important to know about the benefits of good workplace ergonomics.
Because not only can it help improve the efficiency of the task in hand, it also decreases the risk of physical damage to your body.
So knowing the ergonomics associated with your specific occupation can help in:
- Pinpointing areas of your body that are most affected by the work you carry out.
- Help in creating solutions to improve your overall physical state and well-being.
And this may be stating the obvious, and we don’t mean to insult anybody reading this, but not every manual worker wears their PPE (personal protective equipment) properly.
So the following equipment should be worn at all times as manual work is often unpredictable:
- Hard hat/helmet.
- Eye protection.
- Hearing protection.
- Safety gloves.
- A respirator.
- Correct footwear.
Finally, and this is self-explanatory but also very important, listen to your body.
Don’t lift more than your body can handle, and listen to the areas of your body that you feel are being over-used.
Because pushing your body beyond its limitations is only going to cause you harm whilst increasing the risk of long-term strain or injury.
And make sure you stretch your muscles before carrying out a long days labour to improve flexibility, joint motions and overall muscle effectiveness.
James Allan - Morningside Masonry
Masonry is an extremely tiresome and strength-thirsty job, and back pain can seem inevitable.
Over time I figured that a biweekly session with a qualified chiropractor can help me fight the constant back pain.
Sadly, most people underestimate chiropractic treatment because they've never tried it.
But it's something I would recommend to anybody desperate and struggling with persistent back pain.
Another tip from my own personal practice is the simple exercise of twisting.
You could either do the seated twist or lying twist. All you have to do is sit on the ground with your feet forward and reach with your right hand as far left as possible and then the other way around.
It’s a really simple exercise but if done once every hour or two, you will feel the difference almost immediately.
The goal is to stretch your muscles in the opposite direction of contraction.
However, bear in mind that you have to do it gently, or you might overstretch and cause extra damage from doing it too suddenly or too harshly.
And the last piece of advice I could share is to place a pillow between your legs while you sleep on your side. This way your spine is in a neutral position which is how you can effectively rest.
Daniel Teal - DT Groundworks
Over the past couple of decades I have had my share of back pain, and for years I just powered through the pain.
However, it became unbearable and I had to seek some advice from a co-worker.
He told me that there are some pre-work warm-ups he does when his back is particularly painful in the morning.
And he showed me a number of stretches and exercises he does to help relieve the pain and help him cope throughout the day.
I was skeptical at first because I’ve never been one for working out, but what he showed me seemed like a good place to start.
The first couple of weeks were tough and some days I would forget to do them at all. It wasn’t until a month or so in that it became second nature.
So I now start every day with an hour of stretches and warmups before I have a shower and go to work.
I think the stretches have made me a bit more flexible and I rarely get back pain at all now.
Paul Crane - PAC Asbestos Surveys
Being an Asbestos Surveyor, I spend a lot of the day on my feet and up ladders, so back pain is a very common issue among myself and my employees.
One day, one of the lads thought there must be a way to stop our backs from aching so he did a little research.
He came across something called Yoga for the Construction Industry and of course, we made fun of him for it.
For a while, we didn’t talk about it again and we got on with work as normal.
Our mocking didn’t discourage him though, and he decided to follow the steps set out in the program and within a couple of weeks he said he felt much better for it.
So, I decided to give it a go myself and I was amazed to see the results.
And it also turned out the other lads had secretly done the same thing.
It has done wonders for our morale on site and I feel much happier in myself for not having to deal with the pain on a daily basis.
Dr Casey Seenauth - Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine
For people with active jobs who are in pain, workplace ergonomics are super important.
For instance, bending down and twisting to lift is a movement that puts the back in a very vulnerable position for injury, so using proper form while lifting is critically important.
Also using the legs and hips to lower yourself down to an object and lifting by extending with the back straight will help to reduce the risk of causing pain or injury.
Outside of work, core strengthening exercises make a difference, as the muscles in our abdomen and low back work to keep the spine stable through a range of movement.
Yoga and pilates practices focus on improving posture and keeping the core muscles strong.
Also some simple exercises that people can do to improve core strength include planks, bird dogs, and hip bridges.
Back pain is often due to the activation of pain receptors in connective tissue – ligaments, tendons, and muscle attachments.
When we irritate these tissues through stretching, pressure, or overwork they can cause pain.
Prolotherapy is a natural, non-surgical treatment that can strengthen weakened connective tissue and reduce pain.
Mario Stefano - Chiropractors' Association of Australia
An active job can sometimes be beneficial to spinal health (depending on the role), as it means you are not sitting idle for long periods of time at a desk.
However in saying that, those in active jobs need to make sure they take care of themselves both at work and at home.
So always use correct lifting procedures, be mindful of your posture and exercise regularly to ensure you maintain a level of fitness necessary to your work.
And if you’re already in pain, it’s vital that you don’t do anything that could make it worse.
Your chiropractor will be able to assess the injury and help you work towards the best treatment for you.
Dr Alex Tauberg - Tauberg Chiropractic
If you have an active job there are a few things you should do to try and reduce your risk of injury.
First of all, make sure you understand proper lifting mechanics.
You should be lifting with your back in a neutral and mostly vertical position, and all the flexion should come from your hips and knees when you bend over to pick something up.
Secondly, try to do some type of warm up before going in and just starting to lift heavy objects.
And finally, stay active even outside of work, because staying active reduces your chances of getting injured.
So don’t let yourself off the hook just because you have an active job. Try to get out there and get some exercise regardless.
Make Sure You Are Eating A Balanced Diet
We are what we eat, and eating a healthy, balanced diet is great for keeping us fit, strong and healthy.
But did you know that what you eat could also be affecting the amount of pain you feel in your back?
In fact it may even be causing it!
This may be the case for a couple of reasons:
- A diet lacking in certain vitamins and minerals can lead to a loss in bone density and degeneration of your spinal discs.
- Certain foods can cause inflammation in your body, which is a major cause of back pain.
So getting your nutrition right and learning to eat the right things can really help to keep you out of pain.
And here is what our experts recommended for us.
Ryan Weaver - Ketogenic Supplement Reviews
For your body to work properly you must pay attention to the fuel you give it, meaning your nutrition.
The ketogenic diet has helped many people improve their health and fight against diseases like type 2 diabetes and epilepsy.
It requires you to give up carbs and sugar, and to eat healthy fats.
Your diet will consist of:
- Fish that has Omega 3 fatty acids which have anti-inflammatory properties.
- Cheese which has calcium which is essential for healthy bones.
- Eggs, meat, avocados, organic oils - all of these have lots of nutrients (vitamin B, D, E, calcium, iron, etc).
By giving up the unhealthy foods that have a low nutritional value (cookies, pasta, bread, breakfast sugary cereals) and replacing them with healthy foods, you will give your body the nutrition it needs to heal and recover.
Tilly Spurr - Future Fit Training
I would recommend a three-pronged attack; using food to improve blood flow, lower inflammation and support repair.
As more is known about the causes of back pain, attention has been drawn to the possibility that one cause of disc degeneration and nerve damage is poor blood supply.
So lowering blood cholesterol by eating a diet high in fibre and low in saturated fat is beneficial; lowering the risk of plaque formation and improving blood flow.
And eating lots of dark red/purple, high flavanoid fruits, vegetables, and berries will vasodilate blood vessels, lowering blood pressure and improving nutrient delivery.
Flavonoid-rich diets also lower swelling and pain.
Research shows anti-inflammatory diets including these berries, oily fish (omega3), green tea, dark green vegetables, turmeric, and garlic can lower pain and improve mobility.
Eating fish is also good as a source of vitamin D.
Keeping bone tissue of vertebrae strong and healthy is extremely important for maintaining back strength and integrity.
For this, adequate intake of vitamin D, calcium (dairy, kale, broccoli), magnesium (pumpkin seeds, banana, chocolate) and vitamin K (leafy vegetables) are vital.
Create A Lifestyle That Minimises The Risk Of Back Pain
As you can probably see by now, back pain is a multi-faceted problem that you need to deal with on many different levels.
So rather than just focusing on fixing the physical side of pain, you also need to consider the mental side, your diet, your sleeping patterns, your posture, which and how much exercise you take, etc.
The list could go on and on.
So the key to beating persistent back pain is to create a lifestyle for yourself that helps to get rid of it, while also minimising the risk of it returning again.
And our experts came up with a few suggestions on how you can change your lifestyle and routines to do just that.
Rachel Belder - Massage Williamsburg
As a licensed massage therapist specializing in pain management, my top tip for reducing chronic back pain is to set rituals.
Because while things like massage, foam rolling, and stretching can be helpful, they need to be done regularly to feel the full effect.
Just as one healthy meal doesn’t make you fit, you need regular weekly rituals for your actions to take effect.
For example, I get a weekly massage for my scoliosis, and work out and do yoga several times a week, and it has made a huge difference in my chronic pain.
Michelle Brass - Zea Relief
Aside from strengthening the core muscles that support your back, exercise stretches the tight muscles, ligaments and tendons around your spine which supports the healing process and, over time, provides relief from pain.
Exercise also releases endorphins which are your body’s natural pain relief.
You could try walking, yoga, water therapy or bike riding.
However be sure to chat to a professional before beginning any new exercise program to make sure it’s right for you.
Heat interrupts pain signals to your brain, relaxes soft tissue and increases blood flow to the affected area.
You could try a heat pack, electric heating pad, a hot water bottle, or a warm bath.
Bring your heat therapy up to maximum effect by adding aromatherapy – a few drops of relaxing Kunzea Oil can be added to water or certain heat packs to help the muscles relax even more.
Seeing a qualified massage therapist for hands-on soft tissue manipulation is scientifically proven to be beneficial for reducing the perception of pain.
It also has direct benefits for muscles, relaxing the soft tissues and increasing blood flow to the area.
Massage also stimulates endorphin production, which allows your body to relax and repair.
Carefully chosen essential oils can make massage techniques even more effective.
Warm water is an age-old therapy technique that is suitable for all budgets and many types of back pain.
Immersion in warm water can be a great way for people with back pain to get some exercise – it provides mild resistance and supports some of your body’s weight to make exercising easier.
Aromatherapy has been used in different forms all over the world for centuries.
And one of the most effective essential oils for back pain is Australian Kunzea, which works to relax muscles and reduce inflammation to assist with pain relief.
Gentle, pleasantly-scented and readily absorbed by the skin, our Kunzea Products are able to penetrate the skin to calm painful nerves and relax aches and pains.
Aromatherapy oils can be used in massage, heat packs, baths and soaks, and other topical products.
Menachem Brodie - Human Vortex Training
Those working an active job and suffering back pain seem to have few solutions to their challenges, but there ARE options.
I've worked with a variety of individuals with back pain, in a number of settings: from working in a physical therapy clinic as the in-house strength & conditioning coach to helping those discharged from PT return to their sport or active lifestyle.
Also working in the Bariatric Surgery clinic for those working active jobs and on the journey to/from gastric surgery, to working with professional and amateur athletes of all backgrounds.
So here are the 3 steps to helping you best manage, and perhaps even resolving your pain!
1. You must look at your daily, repetitive tasks, and how you are performing them…especially sitting
For starters, most folks will simply find some kind of “brace” or “device” to help them feel better.
But while braces and devices have their place in the pain management strategy, we must first start by looking at common repetitive movements in your life, and figure out what is contributing to your pain.
For one of the patients I worked with, it was realizing that when he moved to the smaller trucks for his delivery job, while the packages were smaller, he was sitting with his left foot tucked under and across the seat.
Thus aggravating his spine every time he went to get out of the truck…. which was about 150-200 times a day!
And when it comes to sitting, it is one of the worst things we can do for back pain.
Perhaps physical therapists have known this for some time, because I cannot recall being in a single PT clinic wherein the area patients are actually seen they have had any “sitting desks”.
Instead, there are only “standing desks” and “standing desk islands”.
If you do have to sit for work, be sure to learn how to sit with good posture (yes, it is harder than you think, and no, sitting on an exercise ball doesn’t count!).
You could also look into purchasing a “walking desk” such as a treadmill desk.
Alongside your new better-posture supporting chairs or walking desks, you can also take up step #2- as long as your PT and/or doctor clear you for it, or at least give your guidelines for it.
2. Strength training
This does NOT mean head to the gym and start by simply doing exercises that don’t bother you.
You’re special, and as such, need a specific and special skill set to help you out.
This can be as simple as going to a physical therapist who will help build you a strength training program you can do 2-4 days a week.
Or it can be more complex and seek out highly experienced strength coaches/personal trainers who have studied, learned, and practiced working with your issues, to help you.
While the exact strength training program will (and SHOULD) vary based on YOUR specific situation, we will want to focus on:
- Posture - better posture helps us align the joints to where they are meant to function (joint position dictates muscle function), and aligns your pelvic floor, diaphragm, and head, so that there is less pressure on the pelvic floor and spine, which can significantly decrease pain in those whose major contributing factor is poor posture/joint alignment.
- Using/firing the obliques and transverse abdominus muscles - 2 major muscle groups that help aid in the protection of the spine.
- Strengthening the glutes - While not all programs or clinicians/practitioners may place an emphasis on this, poor glute strength (specifically glute medius and minimus), along with low trunk muscle size has been shown in numerous studies to be a contributor to lower back pain.
The glute medius and minimus help us to control abduction of the femur, as well as contribute to pelvic control through unilateral leg movements, such as something as basic as walking.
3. Find healthy outlets for stress
While we often look at the physical contributors to pain, there is also a psychological side to it as well.
Unfortunately, many of us now finish stressful days and head home to plop down in front of the TV or computer to stream our favorite shows.
This not only puts us into poor posture (see point #1), but also doesn’t give us a healthy and positive outlet for our stress (which #2 does!).
The body does not differentiate between work stress, also known as negative stress, or good stress, also known as fitness training.
But we do know that exercise, within your abilities and doctors/pt’s recommendations and guidance, IS medicine. So much so that the American College of Sports Medicine has been one of the largest supporters/purporters of this.
So seek out ACTIVE-ities that you can participate in that are good for you, and put you in company with other people.
Find activities that are good for you, good for others, and help you feel better and move better.
And make it something you enjoy.
Perhaps this may mean looking beyond your comfort zone (keep it safe though!), but try new things, and see what works for you!
Laina Gossman - Soul Insole
Here are a few tips for easing back pain:
1. Support the feet. By preventing the arches from falling, you can help to keep the ankles, knee, hips and back in proper alignment.
2. Split the day between standing and sitting. Too much of either can cause problems.
3. Try an inversion table. By hanging upside down, you can have a gentle way to allow gravity to provide spacing between the vertebrate
4. Go to a chiropractor and/or a physical therapist.
5. Work on improving your posture. Strengthen your core to protect your back.
6. Go to an orthopedic specialist if your back pain is persistent and painful.
Which Treatments Can Help?
While it's fantastic to learn how to live a life that minimises the risk of back pain, that doesn't mean to say that you shouldn't also seek a helping hand at times.
Because there are certain treatments that people swear by for helping them deal with and manage their pain.
These can be medical treatments such as physical therapy, osteopathy, facet joint injections, and chiropractic treatment.
Or alternative therapies such as acupuncture, massage, trigger-point therapy and Chinese medicine.
You can even seek out help from a psychologist to help you to gain control over your thoughts and emotions in regards to your pain.
And in extreme cases there is also the surgical option (although from experience I'd personally only recommend this as a last resort).
So let's hear what our experts had to say about potential treatments that could help to reduce or eliminate your back pain.
Dr Hunter Greenwood - Chiropractor Plus
The best tip that I can offer anyone with chronic back pain is to go to a doctor who will determine the cause of the problem rather than simply treating the symptoms.
You are then more likely to have success in treatment.
Chiropractors also seek to determine the actual cause of the problem and then treat it accordingly with chiropractic manipulation, therapies, and exercises to overcome back pain syndromes.
Melissa Brady - MedicareFAQ
My tip for those working an active job that are trying to find a remedy for consistent back pain is a therapeutic cortisone injection geared to the individual’s specific medical condition.
There are a number or lumbar conditions in which cortisone can be beneficial as a treatment for chronic or acute lumbar pain.
Cortisone helps decrease inflammation in the affected area and then, in turn, can help decrease the pain.
Other options other than invasive cortisone procedures include:
Conservative care which could include physical therapy in which you learn beneficial stretching and strengthening exercises as well as a HEP (home exercise program) geared to treat your specific condition including yoga, meditation and massage.
Medications including OTC pain relievers, NSAIDs and muscle relaxers to help maintain pain throughout the day.
An LSO brace as it is helpful in providing spinal stability and taking pressure off of the spine.
A lot of people with a heavy labor job use braces for support as well as to provide proper spinal mechanisms so the individual doesn’t further injure the spine.
A TENS unit, which is a portable device that when the estim pads are placed at the pain source, they provide electrical stimulation to the affected muscles and nerves and it blocks the pain waves telling your brain you have pain.
This is an awesome device to use during the day as a treatment for pain, especially if you’re on your feet all day and doing a laborious job.
Tina Willis - Orlando Personal Injury Attorney
As a personal injury lawyer, I regularly speak with clients who have all sorts of medical issues leading to back pain.
Neck and back pain are the top complaints after many auto accidents, and many of my clients also were formerly active and really eager to return to their prior high activity level.
For example, two of my newest clients this week are an avid cyclist, and a former pro and arena football player, who both now have serious back and neck pain.
Another one of my new clients is a physician, who stays very busy with her work, but who now can’t work without serious pain medication, due to back pain.
All of these people are extremely eager to find relief for their back pain.
The treatments that might help vary tremendously, and usually depend on the nature and seriousness of their diagnosis.
They often receive treatments ranging from physical therapy, chiropractic treatment, to injections and even surgery, for the most serious cases.
One novel treatment, which is gaining popularity, is prolotherapy, and PRP (platelet-rich plasma) injections.
With prolotherapy, I have seen those with stubborn back pain get back to their former activity levels much more quickly, and in a less invasive way than surgery.
Of course, for certain back conditions, sometimes surgery is the only option.
Dr Christopher Stepien - Barefoot Rehabilitation Clinic
An active person can prevent back pain from taking them down by understanding that glue (the medical term for this pathology is ADHESION) in the muscles is the #1 thing keeping them in pain.
So, if someone has had back pain that has:
- Lasted more than 2 months.
- Not been relieved by chiropractic treatment, pain meds, physical therapy or acupuncture.
- Caused tightness in the hamstrings.
- Shown it's ugly head 1-4 times per year for the past few years.
Then seeing an adhesion doctor can provide huge dividends.
And with the 5-visit rule, someone can expect permanent relief in 5 visits or less.
Dr Joseph Lawrence - Broadview Health Centre
Most people with back pain resist going to the doctor. Consequently, many of these people will search out a home remedy first.
One of the top recommendations I give these individuals when they want to go down the path of self-care is a sacroiliac belt.
This is worn around the pelvis, and research has shown it provides stability, improves posture by reflex relaxation of a muscle in the thigh called the rectus femoris, and improves gait speed which in and of itself improves low back pain.
I like to recommend the Revolution Back Belt only because it has superior adjustability and consistency of support, not to mention durability.
Dr Joshua Hanson - Hanson Complete Wellness
Chronic back pain is a complex issue and the best treatment is a holistic approach (holistic meaning taking mental, emotional, and physical aspects into account).
And acupuncture is a proven physical tool that can help to reduce neurogenic pain (pain coming from nerves).
There is no magic qi energy happening here, acupuncture stimulates the nervous system and sends a non-noxious (non-painful / annoying) signal to the brain that overrides the pain signals.
It’s like hitting ctrl + alt + del on your keyboard and resetting your computer. You just need to hit the reset button enough to get your nervous system rebooted and feeling better.
So I’d recommend acupuncture twice a week for 1-3 months.
Tanya Keam - Tanya Keam Wellness
Back pain is a condition that comes into the clinic almost daily, and research suggests that acupuncture shows positive results for back pain.
From an Eastern medical approach with modern protocols, the focus is on treating the root of the problem and also educating patients to take care of themselves to prevent it from occurring again.
For patients that have active jobs, this is most important.
Chinese medicine also looks into lifestyle recommendations, nutrition, managing stress and educating patients on appropriate exercises to manage their condition.
Atiya Abbas- Exercise Center
I’m sure that most of the other participants will share the same tips, so I’ll try to share a few less conventional solutions to fighting pain
1. External nerve stimulation
There are two ways you can do that.
The first involves massage or acupuncture, which can be done by a specialist in one of the two areas, and the second way is by transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation also known as TENS.
This type of treatment should be done by a licensed person via light electric impulses applied directly to the nerve itself and thus fight pain at the root.
2. Consider consulting a psychologist
It may seem unusual, but according to an emerging hypothesis, a psychologist can help people suffering from severe back pain to figure out the actual root cause of the pain in their daily life.
And effectively help them alter any habits that have a direct correlation with it.
The simplest of example is how people feel about sports and physical activity on a daily basis and if avoided why and how that can change.
In what I see throughout the few groups and forums I visit, it really seems to work for many.
Firstly I'd like the thank all our experts for their contributions to this article.
They have given some great advice on how to beat persistent back pain, and I hope you've managed to find some good suggestions that you can add into your daily routine.
Because while persistent back pain is an extremely common problem, it doesn't have to be a permanent fixture in your life.
Just making some conscious changes to your lifestyle and the way you go about things can have a huge impact on your pain experience, and sometimes can even rid you of pain completely.
And this is the case whether you have an active job or not.
So give a few of the suggestions in this article a try and see if they work for you (and let me know how you get on in the comments).
Also it would be great if you could share this post on social media with your friends and family to help us educate more people about their health.
After all a life without pain is always something worth striving for.