Back pain is a common issue that affects almost everyone at some point in their life. While back pain can be caused by a serious fall or injury, it can also happen due to bad posture and hunching over our computers and phones all day. Regular physical activity and stretching are two of the best ways to keep back pain and discomfort at bay, strengthening your back and creating more flexibility. If you’re experiencing back pain, we’re here to help. Here are 10 upper and lower back pain relief tips and exercises that work!
What Causes Back Pain?
The list of back pain causes is long, seeing that the back is made up of a complex structure of muscles, ligaments, tendons, disks and bones. One of the most common causes of back pain stems from strain, tension or injury, for instance strained muscles, a muscle spasm, muscle tensions, fractions or falls. A strain can be caused by lifting something that’s too heavy, or lifting it improperly, or making an abrupt or awkward movement.
Structural problems can also lead to back pain. These include ruptured or bulging disks, arthritis, abnormal curvature of the spine, osteoporosis and kidney problems. Hunching over your computer or phone all day can also lead to back pain and discomfort, as can everyday activities like twisting, over-stretching, standing or sitting for long periods, straining the neck forward, extensive workouts, long driving sessions without a break, or sleeping on a mattress that doesn’t have proper support. You may also experience back pain or tension if you are overweight, highly stressed or if you have a sedentary lifestyle.
What Are the Symptoms of Back Pain?
Back pain symptoms can vary from muscle aching to a shooting, burning or stabbing sensation. The main symptom of back pain is an ache or pain anywhere in the back, and sometimes down to the buttocks or legs. Some back problems can cause pain in other areas of the body if certain nerves are affected.
When Should I Worry About Back Pain?
Most back pain can be treated at home within a few weeks with relief tips and exercises. Get in touch with your doctor if you notice that your back pain persists past a few weeks, is severe and doesn’t improve with rest, spreads down one or both legs, causes weakness, tingling or numbness in one or both legs, or is accompanied by unexplained weight loss. Back pain can, in rare cases, be a sign of a serious medical problem. Seek immediate care if your back pain causes new bowel or bladder problems, is accompanied by a fever or follows a fall, blow to your back or other injury.
5 Upper Back Pain Relief Tips and Exercises
1. Massage Therapy
An upper back massage could be just what the doctor ordered. Whether you visit a professional or use a foam roller, a massage can help ease pain in the connective tissue (fascia) that wraps around every muscle. Check out the video below to see how to use a foam roller to relieve upper back pain.
How to Use a Foam Roller to Relieve Upper Back and Shoulder Pain | R+Co
2. Overhead Arm Stretch
Loosening up your muscles with a good stretch helps restore and maintain flexibility, increase range of motion, and improve blood flow. All of these things help to alleviate pain. Try an overhead arm stretch either while standing up or sitting in a chair. Extend your right arm and reach it over to the left side, bending your torso until you feel the stretch. Hold for ten seconds and repeat on the other side.
3. Chair Rotation
You can also try a chair rotation where you sit sideways in a chair and, keeping your legs stationary, rotate your torso to one side. Hold it for 10 seconds, using your arms to stretch deeper and deeper. Then switch to the other side.
4. The Butterfly Stretch
The butterfly stretch can also help ease upper back pain. This exercise has you place your palms on opposite shoulders and bring your elbows together to touch, stretching your upper back. Hold that position for five seconds then move your elbows back to their original starting point. Repeat up to 10 times.
5. Activity Modification
If your back pain gets worse with certain activities, such as working in the garden or doing strenuous workouts, take a short rest period for a day or two. After the initial rest period, you should try your best to become active again as resting for too long can cause your back muscles to become weaker, leading to more pain.
5 Lower Back Pain Relief Tips and Exercises
1. Try an Ice Pack
To relieve a minor back strain or injury, use an ice pack on the area immediately following the injury. Lowering the body temperature will help constrict the blood vessels, reduce swelling, decrease inflammation and cause a numbing effect.
2. Then a Heat Pack
Once inflammation has subsided, you can use heat therapy to help relieve your lower back pain. Heat improves the flexibility of soft tissues, movement of muscles and overall function of the back. The warmth stimulates blood circulation in the lower back, bringing healing nutrients to the damaged tissues. Continue using heat therapy intermittently for several hours or days to help reduce the pain.
3. Practice Pilates
Pilates is amazing for strengthening your back and preventing back pain. It helps strengthen your abdominal and back muscles, stabilizing your spine. Pilates exercises can help alleviate lower back pain, improving your core strength, increasing muscle strength and flexibility, and improving your posture. Pilates is a must for anyone experiencing lower back pain.
4. Knee to Chest Stretch
Knee to chest stretching is a beneficial exercise that can help relieve lower back pain, lengthening the area and relieving tension. Start by lying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Use both hands to grab your legs below your knees and simultaneously bring both your knees to your chest, relaxing your legs, hips and lower back. Hold for 15 to 20 seconds and repeat 3 times with 30 seconds of rest in between.
Cat-cow is a yoga exercise that is amazing for the back. It helps increase flexibility and ease tension in your lower back and core muscles. Watch the video below to see how to properly do a cat-cow stretch and reap all the spinal benefits!
Cat-Cow Yoga Pose | Yoga with Adrienne
If you’re experiencing upper or lower back pain, try these tips and exercises to feel your best as soon as possible!
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