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Try This If Your Back Hurts

By Nancy Sullivan, PT


You know that your job is a pain in the neck, so to speak. But it’s also not doing much to help your achy back. It begins as a twinge. Then the pain starts to spread when you try to move or bend over. Next thing you know… you’re in sheer agony!


Chronic back pain can make your life miserable. And if your back is hurting you, you are not alone. Statistics show that the vast majority of Americans will suffer back pain at some point in our lives. When we are in pain, our first objective is probably to get some relief. The next should be to figure out how to prevent a recurrence.


Tips for Reducing Pain:

Lie on the floor with your calves resting on a piano bench or a chair. Push the chair in as close to your hips as you can. If getting up from the floor is not possible, lie on the bed instead, using a sturdy box with a pillow on top instead of a piano bench. Relax here for as long as you want, but for at least 5 minutes.


If your pain comes on after sitting, stand with your feet apart a bit wider than your hips, your hands at the top of your buttocks. Lean back, gently pressing forward with your hands. Repeat 5 times, 2-3 times a day, or whenever you have been sitting for a while.


Try to spend less time sitting and when you have to sit, try putting a lumbar roll against the backrest, just below the small of your back. This has the effect of tipping your pelvis forward, making it easier to sit straight.  When there is no backrest (think stadium bleachers), a rolled towel or sweatshirt tucked just BEHIND the sit bones can do the trick.


If you are having trouble getting sleep, put a pillow beneath your knees when lying on your back, or a pillow between your knees when lying on your side to reduce the pull on your back.


To begin strengthening those supportive muscles of the abdominal core, practice sitting with your feet squarely on the floor, and pressing the crown of your head up toward the ceiling. Lengthen the distance between your sit bones and the crown of your head, your chin slightly tucked. Hold this posture for a minute.


Caution: don’t do anything that makes your pain worse. Consult your physician if your symptoms don’t improve or if you have pain that travels into your legs. A strong core and flexible spine will go a long way towards preventing future back pain. So start a strengthening program. Sticking with it will help keep you and your back happy and healthy!