- Pretend you're in a bar. When you have to stand up for a while, don't just stand there. Prop one foot on a low stool or a phone book, the way you do on the rail when you belly up to a bar.
- Get sole-savvy. Wear low, comfortable shoes with shock-absorbing rubber or crepe soles. Good walking shoes soften the impact as you walk.
- Tighten your abs. These core muscles are nature's girdle, providing the support and strength you need to prevent back injuries. Doing Pilates, crunches or planks will do the trick.
- Get up and move. Take activity breaks from your computer every hour to prevent stiffness. To get back pain relief, prop your feet on the desk (knees higher than your hips) when the boss isn't looking.
- Be careful about heavy lifting. Never bend over to pick up something weighty. Squat down, knees bent, back straight. To lift, tighten your abs, push up with your legs. Better yet, ask friends to help.
- Assume the best sleep position. For minimal back problems and strain, lie on your side, legs comfortably bent, with a pillow between your knees. Can't sleep unless you're lying on your back? Place a pillow beneath your knees.
A Answers (5)
Michael Roizen, MD, Internal Medicine, answeredSometimes how you stand, sit, or even sleep can cause back problems. In fact, the teensiest things -- twisting that Champagne cork on a romantic night or scooping up your grandchild for a smooch -- can throw your back out of whack. Ouch. The following tips will provide the back pain relief you've been longing for. You'll keep those kisses coming and reduce back strain.
You can get relief from over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications, and by avoiding activities that aggravate the back pain, and by resting for a day or two. You should listen to your body and anything that aggravates the pain, is probably best to be avoided. If the pain improves, it is more likely to be a benign condition and nothing that serious. However, if the pain is really severe and does not improve, you should consult your physician.
Ronald Tolchin, DO, Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, answered on behalf of Baptist Health South Florida
It depends on what caused the back pain in the first place. If the pain is the result of an activity or injury that strained the muscles of the back, then try ice and heat applications, brief periods of rest, and NSAIDs like ibuprofen.
The pain could be the result of bad posture at your work station or improper sleeping positions, two situations that can be rectified with proper ergonomics and possibly a mattress that is moderately firm or one with adjustable firmness.
If back pain persists, see a doctor. Physical therapy may be prescribed along with medications for the pain.
Matthew F. McCarty, MD, Anesthesiology, answered
Most back pain is caused from muscle spasm but can have underlying causes which might prolong the course. NSAIDs like ibuprofen, massage, ice or heat packs coupled with stretching can usually ease most back pain. If the pain persists over a week then a doctor’s visit with a prescription for muscle relaxants and physical therapy could be beneficial. If the pain persists beyond 6 weeks then further investigation by a pain physician would be helpful. After a thorough history and physical your pain physician will review imaging to look for potential underlying causes. If surgically correctable problems are identified then a referral is made. If not then an individualized treatment plan which could include injections and/or medications would be recommended to try to limit the pains impact on your daily living.
Not all back pain episodes require a doctor’s visit. You can often manage your pain on your own and return to normal activities as soon as you’re ready. Try these suggestions:
• Keep moving. It’s natural to want to avoid using your back when it
hurts. However, for most types of back pain, inactivity -- especially
bed rest -- has been shown to do more harm than good. Bed rest can
slow the healing process and make your muscles weaker, tighter, and
• Find a comfortable position. When you do rest, you may have to
experiment with positions to relieve your pain. One position that works
well for many people with back pain is to lie on your back with your
hips and knees bent, with pillows under your thighs. Lying on your side
with your knees bent and a pillow between your legs may also help.
• Apply heat or cold. Cold can lessen your pain, while heat can loosen
tight muscles. Apply ice or heat for 15 minutes at a time each hour.
Some people find that alternating heat and cold works best. For cold,
try an ice pack or a bag of frozen peas. For heat, try a hot water
bottle or a heating pad -- or take a warm bath.
• Try simple pain medication. The simplest and safest pain relievers are
also usually the most effective. These include the following over-the-
1) Anti-inflammatories, such as ibuprofen (generic, Advil, Nuprin,
or Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve). These medications not only
help relieve your pain, but also help reduce inflammation.
2) Acetaminophen (generic, Tylenol, Excedrin) can also help with
Pain medication may not eliminate your pain, but it should control the pain enough that you can be active. Keep in mind that if you take medication for any other medical condition (such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or arthritis), check with your doctor before taking any over-the-counter pain reliever. Also, be sure to follow the usage directions on the packaging.