For about the last two months I have been dealing with some major back pain. During the first few days it got to the point where I started crying while I was lying in bed one night because I couldn’t move or get up. It really affected my everyday activities including work, exercising, sleep and even eating. It hurt to sit and eat a meal, when I stood for too long at work, and sleeping was difficult because I usually move around a lot and I couldn’t do that without having tons of pain. I never went to the doctor but based on my symptoms I am pretty sure I “threw out my back”. Knock on wood it is finally starting to get better, and because of this I thought it could be helpful for others to read about some of the things I believe have helped start the healing process.
Chiropractor: I went to the chiropractor after the pain was quite unbearable. My chiropractor said my left pelvic bone was out of place, more than usual, and that could be one reason for the pain. He adjusted me and recommended I stretch my back as much as possible and to continue to stay as active as possible to allow my body/joints to continue to loosen up.
Stretch: Holy crap this one hurt right away! The same day I went to the chiropractor I attempted to stretch and became stuck on the floor for awhile. I wasn’t able to stretch that much for the first two weeks but I have been incorporating more stretching into my daily routine. For instance, I try and force myself to make time after I workout to stretch my back and hips because I am already warmed up and my body will be able to stretch more easily at this time. This is also a good way to prevent injury, or re-injury in my case. I’ve included pictures below of the primary stretches I have been using. I usually just held them for as long as I could tolerate in the beginning and then as they became less painful I could complete a couple of sets of each one, holding them for 30 s – 1 minute or so per set.
Massage: I finally caved and scheduled myself a massage last week. I originally didn’t because I didn’t want to spend the money, but it was definitely worth it. I received a 30 minute massage and she focused on my neck/shoulders/head first because I get migraines and carry all of tension and stress in my neck and shoulders. After that she worked my upper glutes and lower back (which is where my pain was). She could tell my glute muscles were very tight and also recommended stretching as well as alternating between heat and ice to the areas that were in pain.
Heat: I have two primary heating methods. I have an electric blanket and a heating pad. I like using the blanket for my bed and the heating pad when I’m downstairs or lying on the floor to read or write blog posts. The heat feels soo good and it relaxes my muscles making them feel less tight and allows me more movement in my back with less pain.
Ice packs: I haven’t been icing as much as I probably should be, but the heating pads just feel so nice it’s hard to go to an ice pack after! In the beginning though I definitely used more ice then I have been recently. I normally used the ice packs when I was sitting up on the couch or when I was at work to try and help with the pain.
Back Brace: About a month ago I was at my grandparents and had been telling them about my back issues. My grandpa had a copper magnet back brace and said I could borrow it. I had to keep it together with a belt underneath my work shirt because it wasn’t my size, but it actually helped. I can’t say it was the copper magnets, but I loved the support it provided me with my job and my back did feel better after wearing it. Shortly after I went to Wal-Mart and bought myself a back brace so I would have one of my own that fit me better. I couldn’t find one that had copper magnets or support throughout the front and back, but the one I purchased has some support structures in the back of it. I like that it has Velcro so it’s easy to put on and adjust. Plus, this one is more discrete than the one my grandparents were letting me use. As an FYI, it was about $25, and I think this has helped the most.
Rest: Because I was in so much pain I rested more and toned down my workouts. I had been, and still am a little, taking more time for my warm-ups and cool downs, lessened the amount of weight I used during lifting exercises and have stopped doing a few exercises that affect my back more than other parts of my body, like dead lifts. I have also been listening to my body and so if there were days where my back was in a lot of pain I didn’t work out that day.
Body Position: Body position is key when you are having issues with your back. We use our back muscles daily and it’s important to be keeping your back in a proper position for certain activities, like cleaning, workouts and even getting groceries. I normally try and pay attention to my body mechanics, or how my body is positioned when completing activities, but during this time I have been paying extra attention. For example, I have been trying to keep my posture straighter and using my legs more during lifting tasks.
I hope you find these tips helpful and let me know in the comments below if you have any other tips for helping with back pain that I didn’t mention.