I had a bad back from 1986 to 2006. You might imagine that I figured out how to live with the pain. I did. I just decided that I’d always have to live with pain and that there was nothing I could do about it. For 20 years, that was true.
Now, I am essentially pain free in my lower back. What did I do? I finally listened to my body and followed the tried and true remedies for healing a lower back strain. The fact is that I never gave my back a chance to heal and I never took an active role in getting well.
I am not a doctor or a physical therapist, so I recommend that anyone with a back injury see a doctor or physical therapist and get the instructions and prognosis for the injury. After that, if you are told to do certain things, DO THEM.
I am a survivor of chronic back pain, and so I will share with you what I did to heal myself. Many back injuries are rehabbed in similar ways. This is what I did and recommend to my clients for getting back to a pain free lower back. If it doesn’t conflict with what your doctor tells you to do, you can use these suggestions.
- Rest. Don’t play sports, stand all day, carry heavy objects, or clean your entire house. Really REST.
- Wear supportive shoes. Sneakers are great. Even if they ruin a good outfit, you gotta do it as much as possible. Flip flops are the worst even though they are flat.
- Stretch and strengthening exercises. Do the exercises you are given by your doctor or physical therapist. Go easy at first. Stretch at first. Strength exercises come later. The main thing is to do the stretches every day, two to three times a day.
- Ice. I know it is painful and tedious, but you must do this too. 20 minutes, three times a day. Just do it. Make it part of your day.
- Hot baths. Your body will relax, and being suspended in the water will take all pressure off everything. This is different from a hot shower, but that is good too. I usually do a bath, then stretch lightly, then ice.
- Ibuprofen. Keep dosed. This works. You must keep dosed. It is not like aspirin. Let it build up in your system and keep it that way for like two weeks. Give your body a chance to heal. If it doesn’t agree with your system, get an RX for something else.
- Sit properly. Keep both feet on the floor, sit up straight, but without straining; sit on the front edge of your chair.
- Move your chair up and down so that you are always changing the angle of your head, arms, posture. Move around. Be observant of how you sit at your desk.
- Get up every 30 minutes.
- Stretch gently all day. Don’t be afraid (or too shy ) to stretch in your office. In other words, keep moving as much as possible so you don’t strain or stiffen up.
- Go to Nia class if you can. Or do a really REALLY gentle hour of movement. It is possible to move very slowly and methodically especially in a Nia class. Modify your moves to suit your condition.
- Lose Weight. If you are carrying extra pounds around, you are causing your lower back to strain all the time. Losing weight will help tremendously. This is neither an immediate remedy nor is it for everybody, but if it is the case with you, find a nutrition plan you can handle and start to reduce NOW.
I know that it’s hard to keep up on it. The exercises are boring, the ice is painful and tedious, and it’s disruptive to pay attention to every thing while you try to go about regular life.
Be gentle on yourself. You will have to deal with this intensely for a couple of weeks, so just commit to doing all these things for two weeks. Aim for getting back to normal by two weeks from now. It’s sort of like going on a diet for two weeks. It’s hard to stick to a program with so much maintenance, so if you look at it as a two week thing, you might be more willing to do all it takes.