Several remedies are often overlooked or underemphasized in the traditional medical model for relieving lower back pain. These are multifaceted approaches that target anatomically the problems found in the lower back.
Release your inner endorphins
Endorphins are hormones made naturally in your body. What most people don’t know is that they can be just as strong as any manufactured pain medication. When endorphins are released in your body, they help block pain signals from registering with your brain. Endorphins also help alleviate anxiety, stress, and depression, which are all associated with chronic back pain and often make the pain worse.
Try the following activities to release these feel-good messengers:
- Aerobic exercise
Get Enough Sleep
Pain is a leading cause of insomnia—difficulty with falling asleep and/or staying asleep. Approximately two-thirds of people with chronic back pain suffer from some type of sleep disorder. Paradoxically, inadequate sleep can make your back pain worse. This vicious cycle makes it ineffective to treat just the pain. If you have sleep problems, you need to get the sleep problems addressed too
Soothe the pain with cold and/or hot
Don’t underestimate the pain reduction of simply applying cold packs and/or hot packs to help reduce your lower back pain and spur the healing process.
Cold application has two primary benefits:
- It reduces inflammation, which is usually a culprit in any type of back pain.
- It acts as a local anesthetic by slowing down nerve impulses, which keeps the nerves from spasm and causing pain.
Heat application has two primary benefits:
- It stimulates blood flow, which brings healing nutrients to the affected area of the low back.
- It inhibits the pain messages being sent to the brain.
Heat can come in many forms, and it’s best to try several to find what works best for you. Taking a hot bath or shower, soaking in a hot tub, or using a heating pad, hot water bottle, or heat wrap that provides continuous, low-level heat are all ways to bring healing warmth to your lower back.
Exercise Your Core
The muscles in your abs and back play a critical role in supporting your lower spine. These muscles don’t get a good workout during the course of a normal day—they need to be specifically targeted through exercise. There are many simple exercises that can be performed in 20 to 30 minutes as part of your daily routine. If you are just starting out, even a simple act of sitting upright on an exercise ball for 30 minutes a day will engage your core muscles.
Stretch your hamstrings twice daily
One often overlooked contributor to lower back pain is tight hamstrings. If your hamstring muscles—located in the back of your thighs—are too tight hamstrings your lower back and sacroiliac joints will be stressed, leading to more pain. Hamstring stretching should be done carefully and at least twice per day.