5 DIY Tips to Reduce Lower Back Pain

By Mark El-Hayek, Guest Columnist

Lower back pain is the world's leading cause of disability. Almost all of us will at some point in our lives have to deal with it.

Lower back pain is any form of pain or discomfort in the lower part of the spine, which is known as the lumbar spine. It can be brought about by things like muscle tension, stress, improper diet, lack of exercise, poor posture, excess body weight and pregnancy.

We put together five simple do-it-yourself tips to help reduce lower back pain.

1) Correct Posture

Poor posture is one of the leading causes of lower back pain. Good posture involves sitting, walking, standing and sleeping in ways that do not weaken or over activate your supporting muscles. There are several things you can do to improve posture.

When sitting, avoid sitting on the edge of a chair as this puts a lot of strain on your back. Sit with your back straight and shoulders back.

The same is true for walking. Avoid bending or slouching over while walking. This strains your back and causes lower back pain.

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When lying down, get into a position that is comfortable and one that does not compromise the curve in your back.

2) Ice and Heat

For many people, putting ice or something cold on an injured area provides relief from pain. Heat also works well in reducing lower back pain, but the two techniques work very differently.

When you put something cold on your lower back, the cold makes the blood vessels constrict, which reduces the pain caused by inflammation. Heat, on the other hand, relaxes blood vessels and increases blood flow, which helps heal the affected area.

It is advisable that when using ice and heat together, you start by doing the cold compress first and then the hot compress. You can use ice packs or frozen peas for the cold compress. For the hot compress, you can use a hot water bottle or a towel soaked in warm water.

Alternate between the cold and hot compresses for a few minutes and you will notice that your lower back pain has reduced.

3) Exercise

Regular exercise is a good way to prevent lower back pain. Make a point of exercising as often as you can. If you have a job that has you sitting for long hours, integrate exercises and movement into your everyday routine.

Walk to the bathroom or the water cooler a couple of times a day to keep your joints moving and lower back pain at bay. Take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator to help stay fit.

4) Rest

Lower back pain is often caused by stress. The moment you start feeling back pain, take a couple of hours off to rest. You can start by taking a hot shower to help you relax. The shower will help your blood vessels relax and make oxygen flow freely to your lower back. After the hot shower, rest for a couple of hours and you will probably feel better.

5) Do not stay in bed too long

While resting is important, make sure you do not stay in bed too long. Lying down for an extended period of time, especially when your posture is poor or you do not have a good mattress, could increase your lower back pain. Instead of lying down, go for a slow walk to allow your joints and muscles to move and reduce inflammation.

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Mark El-Hayek graduated from Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia with a Masters of Chiropractic and a Bachelor of Medical Science.  He is the head chiropractor and owner of Spine and Posture Care in Sydney.

The information in this column should not be considered as professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It is for informational purposes only and represents the author’s opinions alone. It does not inherently express or reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of Pain News Network.

Improving Posture for Pain Relief

By Pat Anson, Editor

It sounds a little hard to believe. Can something as simple as changing your posture put you on a path towards pain relief?

That’s the premise behind an eight-part video series called “Becoming Pain Free” that was created by Sonima.com, a health and wellness website.

The series follows Steven Shea, a 34-year old filmmaker who suffers from chronic joint pain, as he is put through the basics of the Egoscue Method, a therapy program for chronic pain taught at over two dozen clinics around the world.

The program, which focuses on improving posture, claims to have a 94% success rate in relieving pain without the use of drugs, surgery or spinal manipulation.

scene from "becoming pain free"

scene from "becoming pain free"

“When I started talking about posture 40 years ago, you would have thought I shot the Pope. I was completely dismissed,” says founder Pete Egoscue, a 70-year old Vietnam veteran and blunt talking former Marine. “The key to an excited, engaged present life is the ability to maintain your energy, which requires the musculoskeletal system functioning at its optimal design posture. Period. Once you do that, the whole world changes for you." 

Egoscue, who is a fitness expert for Sonima, says the healthcare system is going broke because of a misguided focus on treating chronic pain with medication and surgery.

“They assume that the source of the pain and the cause of the pain are the same thing. So if you have a herniated disc, they think that’s the source of the problem. If you have a torn cartilage in your knee, they think that’s the problem. If you have migraine headaches, they look at your brain. It goes on and on and on. What’s dropped out of the diagnostic process is the ‘Why’ of things,” Egoscue told Pain News Network.

Egoscue says most forms of chronic pain are not disease or age-based, but are self-induced – the body’s way of telling us that we’re physically off balance. And instead of asking, “What wrong with me?” – he says pain sufferers should be asking, “What is my body trying to tell me?”

In most cases, Egoscue says the body simply wants to be returned to its proper alignment. That was the case with Steven Shea, who is shown in the first installment of “Becoming Pain Free” that his body is misaligned – his shoulders slumped over and his chin tilted to one side.

“By the time you see the 8th episode, you will see a completely different guy. He’s totally changed. Did that have anything to do with Egoscue? Not really. It had to do with him. He’s the guy who was driven to find the knowledge base and the actual confirmation that what he was doing was in his best interest,” Egoscue says.

Once their posture starts to improve, Egoscue says clients are energized to do other things, such as exercising more and watching their nutrition. Avoiding sugar is a priority.

“The devil of all things that the body just cannot deal with is sugar. Sugar is a killer. It’s so clear, it’s patently obvious. It kills us,” Egoscue says.  

Part two of the “Becoming Pain Free” video series can be seen by clicking here. A new episode will be shown each week on Sonima.com.