Free Pain Relief Newsletter
Pain Relief Articles -
Treat Your Own Back
Exercise: A Natural
Reliever For Chronic Low Back Pain
4 Natural Home
Remedies to Ease the Pain of Sunburn
Grip on Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Way To Pain Relief
of Alternative Medicine
Neck Pain Management
Migraines - Food
Treating Arthritis - Naturally
Getting Well With Smell
Guided Imagery - The Healing Power of
The Healing Power of Food
Healing With Herbs
Healing With Movement
Healing With Water
Self-Healing With Homeopathy
Laughter Is Good Medicine
Treat Your Own Back Pain
Healing With Your Mind
Shapiro, MS Ed.
back may have "gone out" as soon as you leaned down to pet your cat,
but don't blame poor Fluffy for the agony you're now in. Most
likely, your back has undergone years of abuse while you slouched in
front of the TV or hunched over a desk.
For most of us, back pain is a cumulative process resulting from
chronic poor posture and sedentary habits. Poor lifting and bending
habits can also contribute to back pain.
Most back pain is preventable, and the back pain you may be
experiencing now can be treated without surgery or elaborate and
SITTING AND BACK PAIN
Until recently, heavy lifting was thought to be the main cause of
back pain, but studies now indicate that SITTING causes the most
problems. Sitting puts a lot of strain on our lower back. The longer
we sit, the more it hurts. That's because 40 percent more weight is
placed on the lower spine when we are sitting. Our body,
particularly our spine, was not designed to sit in chairs for hours
CHOOSE A GOOD CHAIR
If you must sit, choose a straight chair with a firm back. Avoid
soft sofas and stuffed chairs. If you have a job where you sit for
long periods of time, get up and walk around for a few minutes every
half hour or so.
Whenever possible, choose a chair with armrests to relive the
pressure your dangling arms apply to your lower spine. It should
also contain lower back support. This type of chair is called an
ergonomic chair. Ergonomic chairs are designed to take the needs of
your body into account. They usually:
* provide support so you can sit up straight
* allow you to change positions easily
* distribute your weight evenly.
While they do not solve the problem completely, they can provide
good support and are better for your back than a poorly designed
CHOOSE A COMFORTABLE MATTRESS
Soft or sagging mattresses do not support your back. Test your
mattress. Lie on your back and slide your hand under your lower
back. If there is large gap, your mattress may be too hard. If you
have to squeeze your hand in, it is probably too soft. If your hand
slides in fairly easily, the mattress is probably just right for
"Without a doubt, stretching is far more important for the relief of
back pain than strengthening exercise, " according to Doug Lewis,
N.D., Chairperson Physical Medicine Department, Bastyr College.
Try gentle stretches. Gentle stretches can actually help you heal
more quickly. While lying down, try bringing your knees up toward
your chest. Then pull your knees toward you slightly. Take deep
breaths. Stretch. Then relax. Repeat a few times.
Bodywork includes all the various forms of massage and therapies
that can be used to treat back pain. Among the wide variety of
techniques to choose from, the Bowen Technique stands out in its
ability to be used by the lay person, with the help of a friend or
Boasting an 85-90% success rate for getting rid of back pain, the
Bowen Technique is gentle, painless and easy to learn (there is only
one basic move). It can provide you with a wonderful self-healing
tool you can use right at home. (see
When back pain hits, immediately drink two large glasses of water.
This can often provide relief within minutes. Muscle aches and back
pain are frequently connected to dehydration. The body needs a
minimum of eight 8-ounce glasses of water daily.
Long-term bed rest is no longer considered necessary for most cases
of back pain. Actually, the lack of activity may contribute to
recurring back problems. When back pain strikes, your first impulse
may be to get into bed, but recent studies have found that activity
is the better antidote. Try to get regular moderate exercise.
Activities that are good for the back include swimming, bicycling,
walking and rowing.
Relaxation techniques provide a useful means of managing pain.
Research by psychologist Francis Keefe at Duke University has shown
that relaxation can be effective for patients with back pain.
Several relaxation techniques are available which encourage
relaxation of the back muscles. These include biofeedback,
meditation, visualization, self-hypnosis and affirmations. They all
help promote mental and emotional relaxation.
Treatment with essential oils can often help relieve the painful
muscle spasms that contribute to back pain. Several of these--sage,
rosemary, thyme, horsebalm and mountain dittany--are rich in thymol
and carvacrol, compounds that help muscles relax.
Biofeedback procedures are useful in managing back pain. The
technique known as electromyographic (EMG) biofeedback alerts you to
electrical activity from muscle tension, thus helping you control it
and diminish the pain it causes.
Imagine that you're carrying a 100-pound bag on your back. Drop the
bag, open it and examine the contents. There may be a lot of stuff
in that bag-- anger, frustration, depression, painful memories--
that you can throw away to lighten your load. You may want to try
this exercise once a day for several minutes every time you have a
bout of back pain.
Homeopathy is most helpful in the acute stage of back pain to combat
inflammation. If the problem is persistent and recurring, treatment
under the advice of a homeopath is recommended, as there are many
FOOD AS MEDICINE
According to Neal Barnard, M.D., author of several books on the
healing properties of foods, most vegetables and fruits, are
excellent painkillers. Although food will not relieve pain quickly
in the way that conventional medications do, they will affect the
underlying inflammation and degeneration, which pain killers do not.
Most back pain can be avoided by taking the simple preventative step
of staying in good physical condition. The key to avoiding most back
pain is to minimize the stress on your back.
* The most important preventive measure for back pain is
posture when standing or sitting.
* If you stand for long periods at work, wear flat shoes with
You can also get a box about 6 inches high to rest one foot on from
* Before you lift anything, remember to bend you knees. Keep
straight and try not to bend at the waist, as this increases the
your back. Hold the load close to your body and lift with your legs
of your back.
Keeping your back healthy is something you can work on every day -
not just when pain strikes.