7 Mobile Apps You Should Be Using For Your Back Pain
It seems like the whole world is glued to their mobile phones nowadays.
Phone zombies are everywhere!
It's clearly a vital human requirement in the modern age to be able to see photos of what a friend has cooked for dinner,
However while those things are probably not going to add much value to our lives, in other ways our phones can be incredibly handy.
Well there are, and in this article I'm going to show you the best ones around.
These are all apps that I either use myself, or have downloaded and don't need to use on a regular basis personally but would still heartily recommend to others who have slightly different pain needs to my own.
You can click on any of the above to skip straight to that particular review.
Otherwise read on and go through them one by one.
My Pain Diary: Chronic Pain and Symptom Tracker App
$4.99 one-off cost
- Track and manage your chronic pain symptoms to gain insights into triggers and patterns.
- Track multiple areas of the pain experience (including pain intensity, pain type, triggers, duration, symptoms and remedies).
- The app automatically tracks and logs the weather via your phone's GPS to see if the climate is affecting you.
- Create graphs over set periods to see if there are any patterns or trends that you may otherwise not have noticed.
- Create PDFs of all your information that you can email or print out and take to show your doctor.
If you're anything like me, you'll know how hard it can be to describe your back pain symptoms and experience to your doctor.
Chronic pain rarely stays consistent from one day to the next, which makes it so hard to track and sum up so another person
And you can spend so much time and energy trying to ignore pain or distract yourself away from it that you might struggle to even be able to explain it to yourself!
However one good way to monitor your pain and become aware of any events that may trigger it is to keep a pain diary.
By noting down how you feel, your pain levels, what you are doing and how you try to help yourself a few times per day, you can get a picture of what things are helping you and what things are making your pain worse.
And this will help you to manage your pain better.
For instance, one study found that people with chronic pain that kept a pain diary over a 9 week period were less stressed and had greater control over their pain levels than those that didn't.
This is why the My Pain Diary app is absolutely essential.
It was created by a chronic pain sufferer as a way of tracking , managing and reporting his own symptoms and experience, and he's done a great job as everything is covered here.
It's by far the best and most versatile a
There are preset options like lower back pain, fibromyalgia, and headache, however you can manually add any ailment you like.
You can also choose to track as many as you like at a time, so if you suffer from back pain and headaches you can track both and then see if they affect each other.
You can add as much or as little detail to each entry
There is a pain scale that runs from 0 (pain free)
Then there are further options where you can add the following:
- Location of the pain on your body.
- Type of pain (throbbing, dull, sharp, etc).
- Pain triggers (lack of sleep, stress, standing, sitting, etc).
- Remedies (exercise, massage, rest, etc).
- Symptoms (if you have nausea, swelling, fatigue, etc).
- Duration of pain.
- Amount of sleep you got the night before.
- An area where you can add your notes (I like to use this one to write down how I'm feeling so I can see if there is a link between my pain and my moods and emotions).
Each of these options come with preset choices, but again you can manually add your own choices too, meaning you can record exactly what is happening to you.
And the app will automatically log the weather at the time of your entry through your phone's GPS system, so you can see if the climate plays any part in how you feel.
Once you have completed your entry it is added to a calendar, and each time you add a new entry afterwards it will also be added to the same calendar.
Each day on the calendar will show as a colour depending on your average level of pain for that day (red, amber or green for bad, average, good), so you can see at a quick glance
As you get into the habit of adding these entries every day (I'd recommend keeping to set times, and maybe adding a new entry 3 times per day), over the course of a few weeks or months you will build up a really rich data set that will show you just how your pain has been.
You can also put this data into graphs
This is great, as a graph can highlight triggers (one thing affecting another)
For example, your pain may be worse on cold days, or when you have been sitting down, or when you feel angry.
While you can have your suspicions about these, the data you have put into the app can show you clearly whether there is a link or not.
This helps you to manage your pain as you can adapt your behaviours
And this is also great news for your doctor!
It must be so difficult for them to be able to diagnose and treat our problems, especially with chronic pain that can be hard to pinpoint
You can either email these your doctor, or print them out and take them with you to your next appointment.
Not only does this make it easier for them to see what has been going on, it also takes the stress off of us having to try to explain it correctly.
So for me, this app is a winner all round and a must-have for anyone who is interested in understanding and being able to better manage their chronic pain.
It has already helped over 90k people, and I'm sure that number will continue to grow.
- The best app on the market to help you track your chronic pain symptoms and triggers.
- Can be customised to suit your exact pain experience.
- You can keep track of everything you need to to be able to identify patterns and triggers.
- The graphs help you see trends and connections that may pass you by otherwise.
- PDF reports makes it easier for your doctor to understand your problem and offer you the correct treatment.
Web MD Pain Coach App
Covers various chronic pain conditions.
- Set goals to help your pain in relation to food, rest, exercise, mood and treatments.
- Includes 588 tips that have been approved by Web MD doctors.
- Access to 379 articles that contain information and advice on all areas of chronic pain.
- Also includes a pain diary, but nowhere near as good as the Pain Diary app.
The free Web MD Pain Coach app is a really handy addition to your phone.
While it also has a pain diary feature it is nowhere near as good as the Pain Diary
Where this app is so good however is in the sheer amount of advice and information on chronic pain that it contains.
You can also find information on how to treat and manage fibromyalgia, migraines, neck pain, nerve pain, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis.
Once you select which chronic pain condition you are suffering from, you
You can set goals within 5 lifestyle categories (food
Each category has 6-7 pre-set goals that have been approved by Web MD doctors as being helpful for your chronic pain.
Once you choose one you want to follow, you set the duration of the goal, and the app will allow you to track your progress and remind you of what you need to do.
These goals can help you get into good habits, and educate you to adopt the right behaviours.
And speaking of education, the library and tips sections are jammed pack full of good information and advice.
The library contains articles that cover 5 categories in the back pain section (back pain, live better with chronic pain, pain management techniques, treatment and care for chronic pain, and understanding chronic pain).
Each is informative and full of good advice that you can use to help you in all areas of your life.
Similarly there are almost 600 tips linked to the goals categories that cover pretty much everything related to the pain experience you could possibly think of!
There are tips to help you sleep, improve your posture, exercise better, eat healthier, drive without pain, and..... well you get the idea!
So as a source of free information into chronic back pain, I think this app is well worth downloading and reading through when you need help.
After all, the more you know about your condition, the better placed you are to be able to manage it.
- You can set doctor recommended goals that will help your pain.
- The app will keep you motivated to complete these goals.
- It's also packed full of articles and tips that contain a wealth of information on all areas of the chronic pain experience.
Down Dog App (Yoga)
Free to use (with an optional upgrade to a membership of $3.99 per month)
- Provides the closest thing to the actual experience of taking a yoga class in a studio.
- New vinyasa flow sequences every time you log in. You'll never see the same one twice.
- 3 sequence types to choose from (full practice, on your feet, and restorative).
- 4 levels (beginner 1, beginner 2, intermediate, and advanced).
- Set practice time for between 15-80 minutes.
- Clear demonstrations of all the poses with easy to follow instructions.
- A fantastic music soundtrack to your practice including contemporary artists such as Bon Iver and The Kooks.
- This music is tailored to your workout and constantly updated. You'll never hear the same order twice.
Yoga is a fantastic tool to have in your possession in the fight against chronic lower back pain.
And practising yoga regularly will
It can also help you to become stronger, more flexible, sleep better, lower your stress levels, improve your posture
Yoga is the bomb and personally I love it!
However the classes can be expensive, may not be appealing to everyone, and in today's busy world it can be hard to find the time to get to one.
Which is where this fantastic app comes in.
Down Dog brings you fully customisable vinyasa flow yoga classes that provide a mixture of strength, flexibility and balance, which are the closest thing you'll get to doing a real yoga class in your own home.
It has been created by a trio of yoga teachers and enthusiasts from Seattle, and it's easy to see how they've improved on every other yoga app currently on the market (you can read about them here if you are interested).
They've designed the software so you never have to do the same yoga sequence. Everytime you log on you will be given something different to do.
So unlike other yoga apps that have a set number of yoga sequences that you'll quickly get through, you'll never get bored with Down Dog.
And this is one of the things that makes it feel like you are part of a real yoga class.
The constant variety will keep you on your toes and make you feel like you're making real progress.
And the variety doesn't end there.
You can customise your yoga practice to suit what you want to do that day by adjusting the
There are 3 types of sequence available.
The 'full practice
However if you're in the mood for something strong and energetic you can choose the 'on your feet' option, which will focus solely on the strong postures and give you a good workout.
And if you want to relax you can choose the 'restorative' option, which will involve relaxing floor stretches (and is perfect for getting you in a restful mood before sleep).
Each class can be set for between 15 and 80 minutes, so there is no excuse for not being able to fit in your practice!
And this brings me on to the other thing that this app does better than any other.
Most yoga apps or online classes are accompanied by a dreadful background music that makes it feel like you are stuck in a lift as you do your practice!
However Down Dog provide an awesome playlist that includes contemporary artists such as Bon Iver, The Kooks and
I enjoy their selections so much it's almost
The playlist is especially compiled to match up to the intensity and rhythym of the yoga sequence that you have selected, so it will help you to move into the poses.
Just like the sequences the music is constantly updated, so you'll never hear the same playlist twice.
How cool is that?
This all adds to the constant freshness of this app and this is what makes it totally unique.
It's also a breeze to use, even for a total beginner to yoga.
Each pose is demonstrated in a sequence of photos and with clear guidance from Adrienne the yoga teacher, so you'll have no trouble getting the hang of it.
If you need extra help there are also links in the app to each pose which will take you to a YouTube video where Adrienne will demonstrate exactly what you should be doing.
Adrienne's voice is warm and friendly thoughout, and her instructions are easy to understand and follow.
And a good feature of theses sequences is that she doesn't just focus on moving through the postures, she also helps you to get your breathing in sync, which is essential to gain the maximum benefits from yoga.
And quite amazingly it is free to use!
This free option is plenty for you to get by with and begin to practice yoga
Once you are into the groove you could look at upgrading to a monthly membership, which Down Dog offers for $3.99 per month.
For this you get the following extra features:
You can also set the pace with which your yoga class runs at (free setting is normal, but as a member you can also choose slowest, slower, faster and fastest).
And finally you can select a boost to focus on a certain area more during the sequence (aerobic, flexibility, core, twists, backbends, standing balances, hip opening, hip flexor opening, back strength, and
The ones I've highlighted above are especially helpful for people like us with chronic low back pain.
So just to sum up what I've been saying, here is what I like about this app:
- New sequences everytime you log on so you never get bored.
- Fully customisable yoga classes depending on your needs and experience.
- Great music playlists featuring contemporary artists that are continually updated.
- The music is selected to fit the flow of the yoga sequence you are doing.
- Easy to follow instructions by a warm and friendly teacher.
- Good photos and instructional videos of every pose.
- Focus on getting your breathing in sync as you move between postures.
- The free mode is more than enough to start practising regularly.
Accupedo App (Walking)
$3.99 one-off cost
- Accurately count how many steps you are taking each hour and day as you walk.
- Also tracks distance covered, speed and calories consumed.
- Daily logs are added to your history so you can track your progress.
- Graphs can be created to show your step counts over set time periods.
- Set up motivational quotes and messages to be sent to you as notifications to keep you going.
Staying active is vital if you are going to manage your chronic low back pain well.
And one of the easiest and most accessible places to start is to get into the habit of taking daily walks.
Walking has been found to very helpful for us.
In a 2013 review of over 100 scientific studies into which activities were safe and beneficial for people with chronic lower back pain, it was found that walking (along with swimming and cycling) was the best for improving fitness levels and controlling pain.
This benefit occured when people were
So no need to spend hours per day trudging through the park in the cold or giving yourself blisters.
Just a daily 30 minute walk at a pace that is comfortable for you can work wonders on your back pain.
However good habits are hard to form
This is where the Accupedo app can help us to stay on track and motivated until walking doesn't just become second nature, it becomes
It is the most accurate pedometer app available, which allows you to monitor and keep track of your walking stats.
Once installed it will automatically begin tracking your steps, and you can choose from a variety of widgets that can be added to your phones home screen that allows you to see your progress at a glance.
After that it will record the amount of steps you go on to take, the distance you have covered while walking, the calories this exertion has consumed, and the time it has taken you.
All these details will go into a daily log that will be saved and added to
This is great as you can get a real sense of what you are achieving each day, and it gives you the motivation to keep to your daily walk as you won't want a blank day in your history ruining your stats!
And once you have been using the app for a while you can create graphs to give you a visual representation of your progress.
These graphs can be set to show your hourly step count over the day, or your daily, weekly and monthly stats.
The set goal of daily steps in this app is 10k, although you can change this amount to whatever you like in the settings.
And speaking of the settings, you can customise the app to work as you need it to here.
You can set the hours that you want it to be actively recording your step count so it doesn't drain your phone battery unnecessarily.
(You can also pause the app manually if you want to save on battery at any time)
You also enter your personal details here such as height, weight and date of birth so the app can accurately judge the amount of calories you are burning up.
And you can set the app to notify you when
You can even set up motivational notifications
And if you want to share your progress with friends, you can share
And while you don't need an app to go for a walk, I still think
- Accurately logs all the important details from your daily walk.
- Tracks your history so you can see the progress you are making over time.
- Allows you to create graphs to see trends over time.
- Completely customisable to suit your own goals and level.
- Keeps you motivated to make walking a regular activity.
Backache App (Micro breaks From Sitting)
$3.99 one-off cost
- Sends you regular reminders of when you need to take a micro break from sitting throughout the day.
- Each micro break is accompanied by a video of exercises and stretches to get your muscles and joints moving again.
- You can set the frequency of micro breaks, the start and finish times of your working day, and the days you want the app to remind you.
- Includes 30 exercises specifically selected by a quaified physiotherapist to ease back pain and mobilise the body.
Firstly when you sit your spinal vertabrae compress, which squeezes the discs that support them (and spinal movement in general) and as a result these discs become starved of blood, oxygen and nutrients which weakens them.
And finally, while
These muscles are vital for supporting your spine, but if they remain unused for such long periods during the day they weaken and your lower back gets less support and has to shoulder more of the burden.
So all in all sitting can be dangerous!
Our bodies are designed to move, and by keeping them moving we can help ourselves stay fit, healthy and pain-free.
But how can you do that if you have a job that requires you to sit for long periods every day?
Well one thing that can help is by taking micro breaks at regular intervals throughout the day.
Micro breaks are defined as small but meaningful regular breaks from being stuck in the same position (you can find a great article about micro breaks here).
Sounds like a good idea right?
However a big problem with implementing micro breaks into our working life is that it is far too easy to forget
And this is where the Backache app can prove to be so valuable.
You can fully customise these notifications to your own preferences.
There are 5 options for the frequency of the micro breaks (
You can also set your start and finish times (for example 9am until 5pm), and you can also select the days that you want the app to remind you (Monday - Friday)
You need to mobilise your body, and this is where this app comes into it's own.
Each micro break is accompanied by a video of a different exercise or stretch that will help you to get your muscles and joints moving.
There are 30 exercises
Which is great as all these areas can suffer along with your back from sitting for such a long time.
All the exercises are quick and easy to do and they don't require any equipment, so they are perfect for the workplace.
And the videos are easy to follow, with each one containing detailed information about which muscle groups you are working.
We are all creatures of habit, and it is too easy to fall into the trap of just doing the same stretches each time we get up from our seat
And this app provides the perfect
You'll never forget to take a micro break again.
- You can fully customise the schedule to fit your own needs.
- The exercises are selected by a qualified physiotherapist and work many different areas of the body.
- The videos are easy to follow.
- The variety of exercises will stop you getting bored.
Headspace App (Meditation)
Free introductory series then various monthly subscription options
- Bringing you guided meditation sessions directly to your mobile phone or tablet.
- Free introductory series of 10 meditation sessions of 10 minutes each.
- Inside the members area there are 100s of hours of guided content.
- These include guided meditation aimed at specific areas such as health, relationships and performance.
- Also SOS sessions for particularly bad days!
- Track your stats and progress, and link up with friends to help keep each other motivated.
Now you might be letting out a groan at the sight of the word meditation here, but hear me out.
Not only does it lower stress and anxiety levels, it can also reduce pain.
For example, in one 2005 study a group of people that practised meditation to treat their chronic low back pain showed a significant improvement in their pain levels that was similar to a group receiving high quality, extensive physical therapy.
So how does meditation help?
Well first and foremost it helps you to train the mind to become present in the moment.
This leads to escalating pain levels, and we can get stuck in a vicious circle of more pain leading to to more stress and vice versa.
And through becoming present and aware of our own bodies we can also learn to control our emotional reactions to pain.
This lowers the anxiety that people feel about their chronic pain, meaning they become more in control of their pain experience and better capable of managing it.
And on top of these specific pain benefits, meditation also helps you to feel happier, worry less, focus more, become more productive
A winner all round.
And the Headspace app is a fantastic place to get started.
It's an app that teaches you how to meditate in the comfort of your own home using an easy to follow and accessible style
Getting into the habit of doing just 10 minutes per day of meditation using this app could make a big difference.
You get taken through daily guided meditation
This series is made up of 10 guided meditation
I think this is a great way to dip your toe in and see if meditation works for you without spending a penny.
Personally I could really start to feel the benefits
Which is good because you don't have to.
Headspace offer a variety of monthly subscriptions that opens the door to hundreds of hours of content where you can really delve deeply into the world of meditation.
You can choose guided meditat
There are also sessions that are designed to teach you how to apply Headspace meditation to your everyday life, in areas like driving, working, and sleeping.
And there are even 'SOS' sessions if you are having a particularly bad day!
If you do get into meditation as a way to manage your chronic pain, there is no better place to do it than by using Headspace in my opinion.
It allows you to relax and practice wherever you like.
And I found it far easier to learn to meditate on my own than in a class environment surrounded by a group of people.
For example, one class I went to once had a guy who would get so relaxed he'd fall asleep within 2 minutes of the meditation beginning.
And the wall-shaking snores he let out for the other 28 minutes made it impossible for the rest of us to get into it (and stop laughing!).
As well as being a good place to learn, Headspace also does a good job of keeping you motivated.
As you complete each meditation session you move on to the next level, with rewards
With the free introductory series you have nothing to lose, and the benefits you gain by getting into regular practice are awesome.
The monthly subscriptions are good value for something you will use every day, and Headspace will give away a free subscription to a person in need every time someone signs up which is really cool.
Join the 5 million plus users today and add a another way to help you relax, lower your pain and feel happier.
- You can learn how to meditate in the comfort of your own home (or anywhere else you like!).
- Easy to follow guided meditation sessions that are accessible to everyone.
- Free introductory series so you can try it out before you commit to a monthly subscription.
- Stats and progress are recorded to keep you motivated.
- 100s of hours of content in the members area to help you with health, performance and in your relationships.
Pranayama Universal Breathing (Relaxation)
$4.99 one-off fee
- Simple and easy to use guide to deep breathing.
- 3 levels (beginner, intermediate and adavanced) each with 3 levels of breathing difficulty.
- Progressive style allows you to move up through the levels.
- Fully customisable so you can create your own sessions too.
- Set to music designed to help you relax and maintain the flow of the breathing.
You may think this one is a bit left-field for helping back pain, but practising deep breathing for just 15 minutes per day has been shown to have many health benefits.
Firstly it relaxes us, which helps reduce any stress and tension in our minds and bodies.
And it can also help to relieve migraines, lower blood pressure, help asthma sufferers, and reduce the chance of developing depression.
This restricts the amount of oxygen that can get into the body.
However if we can consciously get into the habit of breathing deeply, then we get far greater amounts of air into the body.
And this stimulates the blood flow which helps to carry nutrients and oxygen to our muscles and joints.
So breathing deeper allows our muscles to repair better, stay stronger and healthier
Also, similarly to meditation, breathing deeply reduces our stress levels, which we tend to hold as tension in the muscles.
So being more relaxed through breathing will mean less muscle tension and pain.
And the Pranayama Universal Breathing app is a great place to learn how to gain these benefits.
It has been created by a digital health company with a background in medicine, yoga and meditation
As a consequence it has been researched and tested before unleashed onto the market, so you know you are getting an app you can trust.
This app provides a simple and easy to use guide to deep breathing using music and animations to get you into the correct breathing rhythyms.
And these timings are also set to music, so you choose not to look at the screen but instead follow the rise and fall of the melody instead if you'd prefer.
What I like about this app is that it's great whether you are a complete beginner or have experience of yogic breathing techniques.
It caters for everyone, and it is set up so that the structure is progressive, allowing you to move on to more difficult breathing patterns as you become more skilled and confident.
There are three settings here for you to progress through:
- Beginner - Inhale, exhale.
- Intermediate - Inhale, retain, exhale.
- Advanced - Inhale, retain, exhale, sustain.
Each one has 3 breathing difficulty options which determine how many breaths you take within a minute (the fewer breaths, the harder it is).
You can also set the time of the session in 5 minute increments from 5 minute to 60 minutes (although 15 minutes is the recommended amount of time to practice for).
There is also a custom option that allows you to create your own session by combining whichever breathing patterns and difficulties you want.
So you'll never get stuck doing the same pattern over and over again.
There is also a calendar in the app that tracks which breathing patterns you have completed and how long in total you've spent practising them, which is a good way to track your progress.
The music that comes along with your breathing sessions is designed to help you relax and get into a meditative state.
You can choose from one of 5 music styles (ambient, classical, nature, serenity and vedic) to find the one which works best for you (I'm an ambient man myself!).
There are also background sounds such as birdsong and crashing waves that help you to achieve this relaxed state.
And there is an instructions section which contains all the information you need on how to use the app, how to breath correctly during the sessions and why, and tons of other info on the health benefits of deep breathing.
So while you might not have made the obvious link between your breathing and your back pain, I hope now you can see how deep breathing techniques can help us.
And this makes the Pranayama Universal Breathing app a good purchase in my opinion.
- Easy to use.
- Progressive course that is suitable for beginners but also for more advanced users.
- Plenty of breathing modes and difficulties to work through.
- Custom sessions mean you can tailor them exactly the way you like.
- Calendar to track progress.
- Good information section that explains everything you need to know.
I hope I've managed to show you the potential that modern technology has to help us manage our chronic back pain.
All of these apps help in different ways, and by using them you can build up an armoury that attacks pain from all angles.
Let me know in the comments box below how you get on, or if you have any other apps that help you in your day-to-day life that you'd like to share.
It's definitely worthwhile taking some time out from watching those dog videos on YouTube!