I began to develop lower back pain while playing college basketball and I haven’t fully recovered. Some days I still feel a dull ache in my lower back that ricochets up my spine — and the pain sticks around for days. I can attest to the fact that dealing with it can create a major strain in your life, and where’s what to do about it.
Where lower back pain comes from
It’s no secret that sports injuries and accidents can cause back pain. But for most people, lower back pain happens from the simplest of movements, such as moving heavy items, sleeping in odd positions or quick adjustments in the wrong direction. Improper back movements can cause intervertebral discs, compression of nerve roots, and torn or pulled muscles. In fact, 80 percent of adults experience lower back pain at some point in their lifetime, according to research. It is the most common cause of job-related disability and a primary reason for missed work days.
Lower back pain can be downright annoying. And most of the time, people opt for surgery to alleviate pain. However, the price of surgery can put a heavy dent in your pocketbook, so people often choose to suffer in silence in the hopes that the pain will subside naturally.
Fortunately, lower back pain can be treated with simple home remedies. Here are six:
I admit, there was a time in my life when the very idea of trying yoga made me nervous. Anytime anyone mentioned yoga, the first thing that crossed my mind was, “How the heck can I do yoga if I’m not even flexible?”
Luckily, I know better now. Yoga isn’t strictly about flexibility. Flexibility certainly helps, but the whole point of yoga is progress. The more you do it, the faster your body adapts to different positions and it becomes easier as time goes on.
Yoga combines physical postures, breathing techniques, relaxation and meditation to cure lower back pain. Simple yoga positions can increase muscular strength, joint flexibility and balance among people suffering from lower back conditions. Recent research also demonstrates that yoga can increase pain acceptance and improve overall emotional functioning, which means yoga can teach you to manage pain more effectively. When you’re in pain, it can be easy to believe that resting or limiting movement will heal the pain, however, yoga can ease pain and stiffness better than rest and avoidance of activity.
Grab a yoga mat and hop into your local yoga class because scientists believe the group setting in yoga classes may provide a sense of belonging and increase the availability of emotional and support. If you prefer working out in the comfort of your own home, try this “Fast Lower Back Pain & Sciatica Pain Relief” sequence. It’s my favorite yoga routine and an excellent choice for beginners.
2. Enjoy essential oils
Essential oils taken orally or applied to the skin can treat lower back pain. There are many ways to use them. You can rub a few drops of essential oils onto your swollen lower back or inhale the oils in an aromatherapy setting to promote muscle relaxation. Peppermint, rosemary and lavender oils are especially effective for muscle relaxation.
This study discovered evidence that lavender oil decreases lower back pain when people applied it to the skin. When used during acupressure, lavender essential oil was effective in reducing pain and improving flexibility compared to other treatments.
3. Soak in warm water
Soaking your body in warm water can soothe lower back pain. It’s the oldest trick in the book — and the least expensive, too! People opt for different methods while soaking a sore back, such as a bathtub, whirlpool tub or a jacuzzi.
In one study, patients participated in thermotherapy and used hot water as a method to decrease lower back pain. Research found that the use of hot water leads to increased soft tissue flexibility, decreased muscle resistance, improved muscle motor function and caused better muscle contractions. Thermotherapy creates a decline in lower back pain by inhibiting pain signal and exerting pressure on back muscles.
During one study, patients experienced significant muscle relaxation and fewer muscle spasms from heat applied to the lower back. For an inexpensive therapy method, place a hot water bottle on your lower back. If you plan to take a hot bath, add essential oils or Epsom salt for better results.
4. Get outdoors
Having low levels of vitamin D in the body can increase chronic lower back pain. Vitamin D is crucial for creating strong bones through calcium absorption. Stepping outside for just 10 to 15 minutes a day can help the body produce vitamin D.
Not getting enough vitamin D can cause softening of bone surfaces in the spine, weaker muscles in the back and inflammation in the vertebrae. Research has shown that patients with lower back pain have significantly lower blood levels of vitamin D than others with high levels.
Postmenopausal women are particularly at risk for developing lower back pain, particularly because they suffer from low levels of vitamin D. This is associated with decreased bone mass, sarcopenia, vertebral fractures and inflammation, which can all be related to back pain. During a Brazilian study, blood test research showed lower back pain was more frequent and severe in women who lacked vitamin D.
If you’re in need of more vitamin D, add milk, eggs, oily fish and spinach to your diet — or soak up some sun outside!
5. Go to sleep on time
Getting enough sleep is immensely important for muscle repair and pain management. Everyone knows what it feels like to not get enough sleep. Not getting enough sleep causes irritability, sluggish vibes and can harm your healing process as well. A study demonstrated that sleep problems create a risk factor for pain, especially back pain. When you get enough sleep, your body is able to release growth hormones that assist in muscle repair. Say goodbye to late nights if you want to give your body a chance to repair itself!
6. Try massage therapy
Asking for a back massage is one of the best things to do if you’re experiencing lower back pain. Massage therapy helps with relaxation and can increase your pain tolerance. When the lower back is massaged, it creates additional blood flow, which helps heal soft tissue in that area. Massaging the lower back gently is an effective way to loosen up tense muscles.
Approximately 40 percent of patients with chronic back pain report using complementary and alternative therapies such as massage, reflexology and acupuncture. One study found that massage therapy improved function and decreased lower back pain after ten weeks. Individuals in the study had reduced back pain and better back function.
Although massages are effective for lower back pain, they aren’t cheap! If massage prices don’t agree with your budget, try asking your partner for a massage. It can alleviate pain and even spice things up in your relationship! You can also try checking for reduced rates at a local massage school — while students are in training, you can often find massages for one-third of the normal rate.
What home remedies have you used to get rid of lower back pain? Leave your comments below!
— Laura Jazmin Tolliver