By Dr. Charles-Davies.
This Guest post by Dr. Charles-Davies, a medical doctor that loves to share relevant health information. He is the founder of 25doctors.com- a website that simplifies health education into relevant, easy-to-understand methods.
That uncomfortable knot in your back or that sharp pinch you feel when standing from sitting can be very annoying and worrisome.
Sometimes, we do not know what usually causes the back pain and that can get you upset. We can only guess and hope the pain will eventually go away.
However, the issue about back pain is that if you do not stop what caused the pain in the first place, the pain will never seem to go.
Here are some practical tips for getting rid of back pain:
1. Ice it or heat it
There is usually confusion on whether to use ice or heat when treating back pain. The thing is it depends on how long the pain has been there for. If the pain started within the time frame of 24 – 72 hours, use ice. If it had been over 72 hours, use heat.
Ice packs can be used or if you do not have one, get crushed ice in a damp towel and place on your back for 15 – 20 minutes. Hot water bottle or heating pads can be placed on the back for 10 – 15 minutes. The ice or heat helps to relax the muscles and also relieve pain. Also, you can move around with them.
2. Correct your posture
One of the major causes of back pain is poor posture. Poor posture puts the muscles of the spine under stress and the muscles act up by causing pain and discomfort.
We often find ourselves bending over our laptops or phones or driving with the car seat all the way to the back in an inclined position. We also sit on uncomfortable chairs at work or sit for long periods of time on these uncomfortable chairs
Some practical ways to change our posture are:
Place a pillow that is not too hard or too soft between our lower back and chair while sitting. You should also use a good and firm king-size mattress (if there’s enough space in your room) to protect your back from spasms.
Hold in your stomach like you want the inside of your tummy to touch your back. This activates your core and back muscles and corrects your posture.
Ensure your feet are firmly placed on the ground and your knees and hips are bent at 90 degrees while sitting.
3. Lift properly
Lift with your legs and not your back. We all have the unconscious way of lifting wrongly. We usually bend from the waist especially when it comes to things that are not heavy. This is wrong and can cause lower back pain and hip pain.
When you want to lift anything heavy:
- Look at what you want to lift. Can you carry it alone or do you need help?
- If you can lift it alone, stand with your feet apart
- Squat down, with your back straight, and place your hands under the object
- Ensure all the weight is evenly distributed between your legs before you stand and lift.
Like I mentioned earlier, sitting for long periods of time can cause pain especially when sitting wrongly for long periods of time. Also, sitting for a long time has a negative effect on your cardio system.
After sitting for an hour, give yourself a stretch break. You have earned it.
Try these stretches:
Hamstring stretches in sitting
- Move forward in your chair with your bum almost at the edge of the chair
- Stretch your legs out with your heel on the floor and your toes pointing to the ceiling or sky
- Slowly take your right hand to your right toes with your legs still straight. Do not bend your knees
- Hold this position for 30 seconds
- Slowly come back to sitting
- Repeat on the left side
Knee to chest stretches
This can be done by lying or sitting
- Sit with your back straight and knees bent
- Place your right and left hands on your right knee and pull towards your chest
- Hold for 30 seconds
- Repeat on the left knee
- Bend your two knees while lying on your back
- Place your palms on your right knee and pull towards your chest
- Hold for 30 seconds
- Repeat on the left knee
This can be done while standing or sitting
- Place your hands on your waist
- Tilt your body towards the right and raise your left arm up over your head to reach towards your right
- Hold for 10 seconds
- Repeat on the other side
5. Wear the correct shoes
Wearing inappropriate shoes for a long period of time can lead to back pain. This is so because the body weight is evenly shared among the back, hip, knee, ankle, and foot. If the ankle and foot are not well supported, all the body weight is then shared among the knee, back and hip. This causes uneven weight sharing and places a lot of stress on the back, which causes back pain.
Wearing appropriate shoes can help reduce back pain.
6. See a doctor or a physiotherapist
If your pain is caused by trauma such as a fall or an accident, please see a doctor or a physiotherapist immediately who will advise you to go for an x-ray.
A doctor will prescribe some medications for the pain while the physiotherapist will advise you on exercises you can do that will not aggravate the pain and prevent a recurrence.