Almost everyone has experienced some form of back pain in their lives. In a study published in 2009, in an issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, researchers from the Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research at the University of North Carolina at Chapel noted that “more than 80% of Americans will experience an episode of low back pain at some time in their lives”¹ Whether the pain is in the upper, middle, lower or the entire back, these pains can cause quite a disruption to your day. While many people know that massage therapy is excellent for helping with back pain, we have suggestions for you to do at home to help manage your back pain for the days you can’t see a massage therapist or acupuncturist. Here are our tips on helping with managing back pain naturally at home:
- Tennis Ball: is a must have for those with back pain to help release the muscles on your own. One of our massage therapists, Bobbie Lu-Kopf, has explained that you can either use the ball while lying down on the ground or standing upright against the wall. You place the ball near the area that’s sore and slowly use the motion of your body to roll the ball along your tense back muscles. Bobbie is more than willing to show you her tricks, so don’t be afraid to ask her after your massage appointment about how a tennis ball can help you at home.
- Long Hot Showers or Bath: tight sore muscles become softer with hot water. By having a hot shower or bath, you can help to release those tense sore back muscles. If you choose to have a bath you could also add some Epsom salts to help with your back pain. Epsom salts provide magnesium to the body through your skin, which is a required mineral for your muscles. When the body is too low in magnesium it causes inflammation, which leads to muscles tightening. This also suggests that taking a daily magnesium supplement could assist with managing your back pain. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) states; “as magnesium deficiency worsens, numbness, tingling, muscle contractions and cramps, seizures, personality changes, abnormal heart rhythms, and coronary spasms can occur”²
- Stretching: get your body moving to help release your tense back muscles. Doing yoga, specifically yin yoga, is an excellent way to stretch out your back. There are many different types of at home stretches you can do to help your back, just do a quick online search. One stretching tip Bobbie Lu-Kopf suggests is to grab a chair, lie on the ground with your back flat, put a pillow under your head and lift your legs on the chair so they are at 90 degrees. Hold this position for 5-10 mins (or longer if you can). However, if you’re interested in speaking with a professional Yoga/Pilates instructor, our office offers private classes where we can structure a class just for you to teach you how to work on a specific area of the body. Each private class costs $120+GST per hour and classes can host up to 6 people (the cost will be split up between the people attending the class).
- Flat Back: Did you know that keeping your back flat is excellent for your overall health of your back? Bobbie Lu-Kopf suggests laying on floor (or a flat surface) to stretch out your back. For most people a pillow will be needed in order to keep their neck in proper alignment. Try to keep your whole body flat and in line.
- Sleep: getting enough sleep is so important, especially if you’re having back pains. However, try not to stay in the same position all night, as you can tighten the muscles more that way. Placing a pillow under the knees when laying on your back or side can help to keep your back in alignment.
- Turmeric: is a very powerful anti-inflammatory. The active ingredient is curcumin, which has a host of pain relieving properties. Taking turmeric or a curcumin extract supplement can greatly help with reducing your pain levels. It’s been touted to be more powerful than taking off the shelf conventional pain relievers. In a study done in 2015, researchers from SportsMed Canterbury found that taking “Oral curcumin likely reduces pain associated with delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) with some evidence for enhanced recovery of muscle performance”³ Our receptionist, Sabrina, will be happy to share her experience in using turmeric to manage pain.
- Hot/Cold Compress: alternating cold then hot compresses is an excellent way to relieve back pain. It’s suggested that you start with a cold compress, which will temporarily block the pain while also reducing swelling. Then the hot compress will stimulate your blood flow which will help with reducing the spasms in the muscles. Bobbie Lu-Kopf says “whenever you are in doubt about whether or not to use a hot or cold compress, always choose to do cold”.
- Drink Water: ok we know you hear this all the time, drink more water to be healthy. However this cliché truly is vitally important for your overall health as well as helping with your back pain. When your muscles are dehydrated it causes them to contract which could lead to a muscle spasm. By staying properly hydrated you can help to keep your muscles open and fluid.
- Stand-Up: sitting for long periods of time can put a lot of strain on your back. Get up and get moving to help keep your back open. If you’re someone who sits at a desk all day long, see if you can find a way to stand while working. Many offices now offer desks that can be raised up. However if don’t have a stand up desk, try to make it priority to stand up, even just for a few minutes, every 20 mins or so, to help stretch out your back.
- Back Brace: there are many good quality back braces on the market today to help with your back pain. The braces help to keep your posture upright so you don’t put excess strain on your back. It is also excellent for stabilizing your hip joints, which is very beneficial for those who have jobs that involve heavy lifting.
Our therapists and specialists want to remind you about body awareness, knowing what your body’s limitations are. Be on the cautious side when with managing your back pain and know what you are capable of. Be patient and mindful of your body. We hope these natural tips on back pain help you to better manage yourself at home. Our center offers massage therapy, acupuncture and yin yoga classes which are all excellent at assisting with back pain. When you’re ready to book in for a massage, acupuncture or a class, our receptionists would be happy to assist you.
Our Massage Therapist’s
Bobbie Lu-Kopf: Bobbie has been a Natural Health Practitioner and Registered Massage Therapist since 2000. In both private treatment sessions and classes she draws on her education and experience to create a wealth of complementary healing modalities. She effortlessly integrates traditional Chinese philosophies of health and mindfulness with Western practices.
Urszula Rutka: Urszula trained as an occupational massage therapist in Poland before continuing her studies in Canada. A life-long learner, she is highly proficient in many different modalities, and is particularly interested in helping those suffering from TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorders.
Michael Amador McFarlane: Michael is a registered acupuncturist trained in Canada and China. He provides treatments in both traditional Chinese and orthopedic styles of acupuncture, as well as cupping therapy.