Trying To Relieve Back Pain

Causes of Back Pain

Following on from my back surgery a few years ago, I continue to experience lower back pain for the following reasons:

  • I have been advised that after a piece of disc is removed a back is always going to be susceptible to issues later in life
  • I have one leg approximately one inch shorter than the other one and even if I wear an insert in my shoe this does not provide enough height to fully adjust the problem. Added to that I spend a lot of time in a hot country where I may not where any shoes for certain amounts of time.
  • My right leg is also twisted which affects my back posture.
  • I often have to lift heavy items in and out of my car as I travel around to art fairs selling my paintings.

Whether or not you have any similar issues causing your back pain I don’t know but I do know that millions of people suffer from lower back pain throughout the world and it is one of the biggest causes of time lost from work through sickness.

Back pain can be really debilitating and can stop you doing things in your everyday life - when you can't even bend down to put your shoes or socks on then you really need to do something to help stop back pain.

Help With Back Pain

Anyway, the way that I keep my back pain at a minimum is mostly down to the exercise that I do. I will stress that all the information given here is from my own personal experience and may or may not apply to your type of back pain. I have problems with my lower back and my back operation was at the L5 S1 vertebrae.

There are 3 particular things that I would say help me most with my back pain. The first one is walking. The medical experts say that what you really need to do when you experience back pain is to keep mobile and I can attest to this. It is not easy to build walking into our everyday lives sometimes but if you can incorporate even a short walk into every day then this is going to help. If it is possible you can substitute walking (or add to it) with swimming - I have found that swimming really helps with back pain.

figure 1
figure 1

Lower Back Exercises

The second one is doing back stetches that are particularly geared up to help strengthen your back and abdominal muscles. I try (although I don’t always succeed!) to do at least a few of these every day. Do not do these exercises if they hurt though. A small amount of give may be necessary but don’t push it. Some exercises that you can do to help your lower back are:

1.       Lie on your back flat on the floor. Raise one leg (bent) up and try and reach your knee to your chest. You don’t need to push it too hard. Take this leg back down and repeat with the other leg (see figure 1). Do this at least 10 times for each leg (more if you can manage) and if this is easy then start bringing the 2nd leg up while the 1st one is going back down so the motion is quicker.

2.       Do the above exercise but bring both legs up at the same time (I can’t do this if my back is at its worst so only do what you can manage)

3.       Lying flat on your back again, bring both knees up until they are at 90 degrees with your calves parallel to the ground then drop both legs to one side of your body. Stretch your arms out wide to the sides of your body and then bring one arm over so that both arms are on the opposite side to your legs. Keep in this position for a few seconds and then twist your arms and legs to the opposite sides so that you are stretching the other way.

4.       Kneel on the ground with your hands also on the floor in a cat pose. Arch your back up like a cat and then effectively bring your head up and arch your back down (see figure 2). Repeat this 10 times.

figure 2
figure 2

Pilates for Back Pain

The third thing that really helps me is to do some pilates. Whether you get a DVD and do it at home or you go to a class, most of these exercises are geared to strengthen your abdominals which are there to support your back so it is important that they are strong. If you have never done pilates before then I would recommend you at least take a few classes as it is very easy to do pilates and not do it properly. You can also get specific programs of pilates to help with lower back problems so this could be a good way to start.

So, overall, the way I stop my back from ruling my life is to try and keep as mobile as possible. I know that there will be times when I have a bad day and I might need to take some painkillers but as long as I keep up the back stretches then I have a head start.

Wearing a Back Brace

When I recently moved house there was no way I could get away without shifting some boxes and things. Although I had friends to help me, they couldn't be there all of the time and so my back did end up suffering.

However, one thing that I found that did really help me was to wear a back brace which I had bought from Amazon. I found one that was the perfect size (I had previously bought one on the high street but it only came in one size and was way too big) and when I am wearing it I really do not feel much pain at all. Hopefully it will actually help to strengthen my back muscles as they get used to being supported.

So if you get to a point where drugs, heat wraps and massage are not really helping then a back brace could be worth a try for sure.

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