Back Pain is as common to the human body as a headache is. While most backaches don’t last too long, they require a set of rules to be followed. It’s not only common among the household men and women but even among the working lot in offices despite the luxury seating. Our backs are not taken care of until it demands our attention, which is wrong. There are various approaches to managing back pain and that is what you will know here, your one stop guide to back pains.
[ Also Read Best Office Exercises to Stay in Shape at Work ]
Causes Of Back Pain
- Strained Muscles/Ligaments
- Lifting heavy weights
- Bulging Disks on Backbone
- Sleep Disorders
- Menstrual Cycle
- Bad Mattress
- Poor Posture
- Long Driving
- Sitting in hunched position for long (eg. Office, driving)
- Household chores
- Cancer of the spine
- The wrong footwear
I’m sure you can relate to one of the above causes. Don’t worry if you feel unrelated to these causes(1), but still have back pain, there are more types and cures below just for you.
How To Get Rid Of Back Pain
- Types of Back Pain
- Exercises for Back Pain
- Foods to Reduce Back Pain
- What Foods to Avoid
- Life Style
- When to visit the doctor
Types Of Back Pain
Based On Duration
1. Acute Back pain :
This type of pain is temporary, lasting for a short period of time (maximum 3months). The causes are plenty ranging from anything to everything, but there’s no need to worry as the pain will subside even before you know it. The pain is not harsh in this type and is a mild pull.
2. Chronic Back pain:
This is the pain that lasts for 3-6 months or longer. Mainly related to tissue damage and structural problems, the cause of this pain needs to be identified. In some cases, the cause is unidentifiable and that eventually happens when the damage is restored yet not suppressing the pain.
3. Neuropathic Back pain:
This pain has particular symptoms that identify with it, setting it apart and easy to realize if this is the type you are suffering from. The symptoms range from severe, stabbing sharp, burning, cold feeling, weakness, numbness, tingling etc. Medical care is a must for this pain, otherwise, you can go through alleviated pain in a few weeks time.
Back pain also occurs at various junctions, it is never just back pain but always happens either at the upper location of the back(aka mid-back or upper back) or the lower side.
[ Also Read: Easy Exercises for Butt: Time to Tone Your Butt ]
Based On Point Of Target
1. Upper Back pain
As the name suggests, this type of pain occurs in the upper back, further categorized into upper right back pain and upper left back pain.It rarely occurs but when it does, the pain can be frustrating. Caused due to muscular irritation, joint dysfunction or an injury to a disc in the upper back. If your upper right back is hurting the most, it should be due to some condition that is affecting one of your internal organs. Injuries mostly affect the upper left back and result in intense pain, which sometimes can be treated with cold and hot presses.
Upper Back Pain Symptoms
- Pain across shoulder blades
- Pain across neck muscles
- Muscle stiffness or Tension
- Pain gets worse when in bed
- Tenderness to Touch
2. Lower Back pain
The most common type of back pain that you might have experienced, starting from below the rib cage. Most of these pains soothe down on their own and if that doesn’t happen, we have some remedies for you in the next section for lower back pain(2). Night time back pain is a case of lower back pain that indicates there is some problem with the spine.
Lower Back Pain Symptoms
- Difficulty in standing or moving.
- Muscle Spams
- Soreness Upon Touch
- Pain around the thighs and butt, but doesn’t go below the knees
- Dull aching pain with severe burning or tingling
- Changing Positions helps in relieving pain timely
Exercises To Reduce Back Pain:
Upper Back pain comes hand in hand with neck pain mostly, and this is due to the strained tissues at that joint. Sitting and walking incorrectly in bad positions mostly lead to this problem. If you’re at office, sitting for long hours, a standing desk could come to your rescue. While there are many ways to reduce the pain and get rid of it, exercises stand out at being the simplest and fastest forms of cure.
Exercises For Upper Back Pain
1. Arm Slide
This exercise is most effective in fixing your upper back pain
How To Do
- Stand against a wall, with your elbows and wrists pressed against the wall.
- Slowly slide your arms as high as you can against the wall for about 10 seconds.
- Then bring it back to original position and repeat this with both hands, one by one.
- Repeat this exercise 10 times.
The stretch in your back that you experience while doing this, is the back trying to fix itself.
How To Do
- Place your palms on your shoulders.
- Now try to get the two elbows to touch, keeping the first position of palms intact on the shoulders itself.
- You would feel a slight stretch in your upper back. Hold for 5seconds in that position and then restore to normal.
- Repeat 5-10 times depending on comfort.
3. Shoulder Roll
How To Do
- Roll your shoulders forward slowly in large circles, reducing to smaller circles gradually.
- Now do the same in the reverse direction.
- Repeat this exercise 10 times for good results.
4. Push Ups
Push Ups have more to them than just losing abdominal fat. They help in strengthening the back muscles to prevent frequent pains.
How To Do
- Face your tummy to the ground.
- Lift yourself up completely with your hands stretched forward with elbows resting on the ground for support.
- Suck in your abdominal fat while rising up.
- Hold yourself there for a few seconds before lowering yourself again with your chest touching the ground. (Make sure while lowering down, elbows are at a 90 degree angle to the ground)
- Do 10 push ups everyday along with other exercises to keep the pain at bay.
5. Thoracic Extension
How To Do
- Sit on the edge of a chair in a good posture, while clasping your hands at the back of your neck.
- Now gently arch backwards in a way that you’re able to see the ceiling.
- Repeat this for 10 times.
6. Arm Reach
How To Do
- Get onto your knees and hands. Your neck should be parallel to the floor.
- Now, stretch one hand to a height that is parallel to the floor, not higher than that.
- Hold for 5 seconds and bring it back to normal position. Now, repeat the same with the other hand.
- Continue this for 10 sets and get up.
Exercises For Lower Back Pain
7. Knee To Chest Stretch
This exercise stretches your lower back muscles and aligns the rear back muscles with pelvis.
How To Do
- Lie flat on your back touching the ground.
- Slowly fold the knee of one leg and put the hands around that thigh for support to push the bent knee towards your chest.
- Push it to your maximum till your comfort but it should be close to the chest.
- Let the knee stay near the chest for about 10seconds before stretching it back to original position.
- Repeat the same exercise with both legs 3 times each.
8. Spread Eagle
This exercise gives flexibility to the lower back muscles suppressing the pain there.
How To Do
- Lie flat on your back with your back touching the ground.
- Fold your knees and keep palms folded behind your neck.
- Now, keep moving your pelvis up and down with stomach sucked in.
- Do this for about 3 minutes.
9. Crossover Reverse Lunge
The crossover reverse lunge puts the right pressure on the lower back that is required. Do your usual lunges, but what differs here is, when you put your knee in front and stretch (like the usual lunge), be sure to turn your upper body and head in the reverse direction to the stretched knee. This in turn stretches your lower back easing the pain.
10. Bridge Combined With Pelvic Thrust
This is similar to the spread angle exercise mentioned before.
How To Do
- Where this differs is, after lying flat on the ground, push your body at the pelvis upward creating a bridge to the ground.
- Keeping the body in the bridge position, continue pushing your pelvis up and down.
- Stretch your hands out flat on the ground below your bridge like body posture.
- Repeat this 5 times with each leg.
11. Superman Exercise
The supreme focus in this exercise is that it contracts your back muscles.
[ Also Read: Exercises To Strengthen Your Legs ]
How To Do
- Lie down flat on the floor with your tummy touching the ground.
- Now lift your legs at an angle of 30 degrees and lift your hands too.
- Stay in that position for about 10 seconds or more based on the difficulty you face with the exercise.
- Repeat this about 10 times.
12. Wall Squats
Wall Squats see that your posture isn’t disturbed as that is the main cause of back pains.
How To Do
- Stand against a wall, with your back, butt and back of the head all touching the wall. Stand with your feet placed at a distance from the wall.
- Bend your knees such that they’re at a 90 degrees angle with the floor and stay that way for about 10seconds before sliding back up to original.
- Repeat this exercise about 10 times.
Foods To Reduce Back Pain
Eating right is the solution to everything, and so here are a few foods that you might want to include right away in your diet to beat back pain. How do foods help in reducing back pain? Well, I had similar questions too. So know that, back pain is mainly caused due to inflammation, and eating the right foods fights this inflammation or reduces it to a large extent.
- Your vegetables are your savior. It is true that your green veggies solve all health issues. So take your vegetables seriously. These green vegetables in combination with omega-3-rich foods like fish is the best combination to stop the inflammation right now. Green Leafs, Broccoli etc.
- The most nutritious fruits to fight your back pains are : berries, carrots, sweet potatoes, grapes, pomegranate, watermelon and red wine.
- The herbs and spices to be used while cooking your foods should also be kept in mind, as they are some spices and herbs which will reduce back pain while others may alleviate the problem. The herbs and spices that will benefit you are cinnamon, basil, ginger, rosemary, garlic, curcumin, onions, oregano and turmeric.
- Apart from the usual fruits, vegetables and spices, even herbal teas can contribute to making a large difference to curing your pains. Teas such as green, white and oolong teas are a healthy bonus.
- Eat foods that have high calcium content as they will strengthen the bones. The calcium content in bones helps in avoiding conditions that weaken your spine.
- The most important nutrients that you need to keep in mind before eating are : Magnesium, Calcium, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, Vitamin K and iron. So be sure that if your food doesn’t consist enough quantities of these, you are not eating right.
What Foods To Avoid?
So you are now well aware of what needs to be included in your diet. There are a few days the diet may not happen, and you tend to pounce on other food. So, just remember what foods to avoid so you don’t take a chance with the wrong foods increasing your back pain. The foods that are your poison during back pain are :
Pasta, Rice, White Bread, Sugary Drinks and Snacks, Fried Foods, Chips, Crackers, Pastries, Caffeine, Alcohol etc. All in all, it means avoid fast foods, processed foods, saturated fats and anything with partial hydrogenated oil as ingredient.
Lifestyle Changes To Reduce Back Pain
Stress can increase your pain, so try to relax with meditation or deep breathing exercises.(3)
Get enough sleep:
The most common problem to half the health issues you might face. Get at least 7 hours of sleep daily to stay healthy and let the body energize.
Don’t Smoke or Drink:
Drinking and smoking can harm you more than you think. They decrease the blood flow, hence slowing down the healing process.
Do not lift heavy objects:
Lifting objects has a stress to the shoulders which passes it on the tension of the back muscles. So avoid lifting heavy weights when suffering from back pain, your single most important tip to keep in mind.
Maintain the posture:
In your free time, keep a watch on your posture, how you sit or stand. Always make sure your backbone needs to upright straight, that’s the only posture to follow to prevent a hunchback.
If your back hurts too much, take some rest. Be sure not to take too much rest before getting back to the small daily activities, as that will slow down the healing. Take sufficient rest and slowly get back to routine.
Sitting for long hours:
Office hours require long hours of sitting in front of the computer to complete work, try to ask for an alternative instead. Like a standing desk, so you don’t have to suffer with back pain for sitting long hours.
Use the correct mattress:
A softer mattress and a softer pillow is the right way to sleep. When the mattress gets too hard, the effect it has on the back is harsh.
When going through a phase of back pain, be sure to sleep on your back at night. However painful it may be, it is all the more helpful.
Keep the Heel Low:
Ladies, keep the heel low sometimes. Wearing high heels on a regular basis can shorten your calf muscles causing misalignment.
[ Also Read: Best Calf Exercises for Women ]
When To Visit The Doctor?
- When the pain aggravates to an unbearable level, or you feel a kind of numbness in your arms or legs.(4)
- The pain increases when you cough or sneeze or bend at the waist.
- If the pain is accompanied with other ailments like a fever and cold.
- You are unable to control your bladder, unlike before.
- The pain in your back muscles continues to extend towards the back of the leg.
[ Also Read Tylenol For Back Pain]
If you are facing any of the above symptoms, it’s time to visit the doctor as it might be serious. Serious back problems require precise identification of the problem, where the cause can come into light and be cured with much more intense methods. Over-the-counter medication is sometimes the remedy, but not in every case until it gets that serious.
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