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Cure Your Bad Back

Updated on April 6, 2016


Many people who have no pathologies or structural problems with their spines have episodes in which their backs "go out," leaving them prostrate and in severe pain for a week--or two weeks, or more.

Usually, this terrible back pain is not caused by an injury. When a person's back "goes out"--often triggered by some slight unaccustomed movement--usually there has been no actual misalignment or injury to the back.

What is actually occurring, when your back "goes out," is a painful muscle cramp in the back muscles.

I am not attempting to make suggestions for people with spinal pathologies or structural problems with their spines. This a simple home remedy is for people whose backs give no particular trouble until they move the wrong way and experience screaming pain that persists for days. See your doctor if you are uncertain as to the cause of your back problems.


As common health problems go, this one is EASY! The cure is magnesium supplementation--which will probably work alone--although some sources also suggest B6 (pyridoxine) supplementation.

I suffered from these periodic painful episodes for many years, beginning after my second daughter was born. (Pregnancy can deplete the body of nutrients.) My back would "go out" for virtually no reason at all, simply from bending over to pick up a piece of paper off the floor.

Episodes like this are especially frightening for a young mother who must constantly bend and lift to care for a baby, and who is debilitated by the severe pain.

Many natural healing books, even today, give misleading advice about this problem, and I followed this misleading advice for many years. Older natural healing books suggested calcium supplementation. The trouble is, while this sometimes works (at least for awhile), it works only because most calcium supplements also contain magnesium.

My back problems grew progressively worse over the years. By the time my kids were in their teens my back would "go out" two or three times every year, despite calcium/magnesium supplementation--and the episodes seemed to be becoming more and more frequent.


How did I learn the answer?

At that time, I knew a woman with a pHd in microbiology from Oxford University, and who had made an extensive study of nutrition.

I appealed to "Dr. Jane" for help.

She was HORRIFIED that so many books on natural healing suggested loading up on calcium for this problem, and explained that, while calcium and magnesium work together and must be balanced, calcium allows muscles to contract, while magnesium allows them to relax.

She suggested magnesium supplements. I followed her suggestion and have been free of back problems ever sinceā€”I guess nearly ten years at this point.

Dr. Jane's horror was more than justified. The biology of the calcium/magnesium "switch" in muscular contraction and relaxation has been well understood for decades. (Well, maybe even longer than that.)

The way these minerals function and the requirement for balance are simply standard biology.

An article at describes the biochemistry: "Although more than 60 percent of the magnesium and 99 percent of the calcium in your body can be found in the bones, they both play a vital role in controlling muscle contractions. Muscle cells contain calcium within an internal structure of the cell and magnesium in the fluid portion of the cell. When stimulated by an electrical impulse, the structure in the cell releases calcium, which triggers the cell to contract. Magnesium produces an electrical charge that pushes the calcium back into the structure, which allows the cell to relax."

(Read more:


I think most of us also understand that calcium and magnesium intake needs to be in balance. This is why almost all calcium supplements also contain magnesium.

The trouble is, our modern diet is heavily overbalanced on the calcium side, mainly from our high intake of dairy products. Most of us, on the other hand, do not eat enough magnesium-rich foods: green leafy vegetables, almonds, and blackstrap molasses. Green, leafy vegetables are a good source of magnesium because magnesium is part of the chlorophyll molecule.

There is actually some debate about optimum calcium/magnesium ratios in the body. The general view is that the ratio of calcium to magnesium should be about 2:1. Some nutritionists feel that the optimum ratio should be higher on the magnesium side.


  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety, hyperactivity, restlessness
  • Constipation
  • Muscle spasms, twitches, soreness
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Back aches
  • Headaches
  • Chest tightness and difficulty breathing
  • Heart palpitations
  • High blood pressure
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Osteoporosis

"Bad back" episodes are, of course, merely muscle spasms occurring in the back.


One 250 mg tablet of magnesium per day should do the job to prevent any recurrence. Once you learn to recognize the signs that you are low on magnesium, you can often slack off on the supplements (relying more on food sources), taking them only when you recognize signs of deficiency. Foot and leg cramps at night are a sure sign, and so is a general feeling of being tense and anxious.

However, the amount of supplemental magnesium you need to take will depend on things like your body weight and calcium consumption. How to know if you're taking too much? A sure sign of excess magnesium consumption is loose bowels.

It may also help to take about 10 mg/day of Vitamin B6, a co-factor of magnesium.


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    • blueheron profile image

      Sharon Vile 3 years ago from Odessa, MO

      Magnesium supplementation is not a cure-all for every back problem, but I was one of many people whose back pain was nothing more than magnesium deficiency/imbalance. Magnesium deficiency/imbalance, that is, imbalance with calcium, is very common in the US--and it causes many symptoms that are easily resolved with magnesium supplementation.

    • starlightreflex profile image

      Doug DeWalt 3 years ago from Ohio USA

      Yes, It's great to run into a Doctor who knows her stuff, and doesn't follow the pack saying the same old story: "eat less, exercise more, get your sleep, get your veggies and fruits (good luck in the USA on that one), and manage the pain with Advil. If you come back, we'll test for this and that and struggle to believe you're really in pain, and not just jonesing for Oxy or Percocet (it happens so you're guilty until proven innocent). To avoid being sued (Job #1) we'll "help" by recommending the most popular pharmacuticals to "fix" the problem by altering your blood chemistry (Job #2) the way the FDA says is OK, and throw some business around (those reps coming in the office have SOME reason they get in before the patients). Oh yeah, we'll be seeing you again, since we did not address the root cause (Job #3). Be sure to bring your insurance card... pay up before scheduling, and pay not any attention to those "quacky" traditional herbs and oils that have been validated for centuries by multiple world civilizations, just get back here and wait in the office until we're ready to tell you which new drugs on the market to try, because the FDA approved them."

      One out of 20 Doctors is better than that, and when you find one you've got to hold on! I've only met 3 in my life.