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How to relieve Back Pain in 5 easy steps

Updated on July 11, 2013

Yoga Exercises for Low Back Pain

Safe Lifting Techniques

Plank & Side Plank

Bridge Pose

5) See a physical therapist. If in doubt, if you have other medical conditions you are concerned about or something just doesn't feel right; see a physical therapist who can create a customized exercise and therapy program for you. In most states you can see a physical therapist first, without waiting weeks for a referral or prescription from a physician. This is called Direct Access and it allows you to see a physical therapist directly. Call the physical therapy clinic of your choice and ask for an evaluation. A physical therapist will know if you need to be referred somewhere else, however, physical therapy is the most effective and cost efficient treatment for back pain with no side effects.

5 steps to healing your low back pain

1) The most important thing to do if you have low back pain is to continue with your normal daily activities and exercise. Over 80% of Americans experience low back pain at some point in their life. For many people it will resolve itself with in 3 months and continuing to work and exercise is vital. Be sure that you are not working through any sharp shooting pain, and if you have bowel or bladder dysfunction or genital numbness you seek the advice of your physician.

2) Move your body safely. This means to lift heavy objects close to you, stretch gently, move and rotate your back and stop any activity or exercise that does not feel right or produces any sharp or shooting pain. The video below demonstrates an excellent yoga series that will help you move your back safely and begin to activate your core. Yoga is an excellent form of exercise which combines strength with flexibility and balance. Many people find relief of their low back pain with a consistent yoga practice which is at least 2-3 times a week. You should start with a class until you are comfortable practicing yoga at home on your own, then take a class 1-2 times a week and practice at home for at least 30 minutes 2-3 times a week.

Walking is also a great exercise for low back pain and it helps strengthen your back muscles and activates your core in a reciprocal fashion. Your goal should be to work up to walking a minimum of 30 minutes 5 days a week, which has many other tremendous health benefits.

3) Activate your core: Core exercises are important, but not traditional sit ups which only shorten your hip flexor muscles. Your core works to stabilize your back and trunk, so exercises to strengthen it should also train you to be stable. These types of exercises are done for 30 seconds to 3 minutes and challenge you to use your core or deep stomach to keep your body still

The first video shows you how to begin activating your core with a modified Bird Dog or stabilization exercise. You can progress to a modified (on your knees) plank and side plank as seen in the second video. The third video demonstrates a bridge and this is great to help stretch your hip flexors, move your hips and back and strengthen your core. Be sure to tighten your stomach when you do these, it can be easy for your body to cheat and use the strength of your hips and legs.

If any of these exercises cause any sharp or shooting pain, please stop. Try them again at 40% of the effort and if this does not change the way you feel, you most likely need the guidance of a physical therapist.

4) Help your muscles to let go. This is as important as moving safely. Pain creates bracing and chronic bracing patterns create muscular tightness, fascia restrictions and trigger points. Start with a tennis ball and lay down on the floor or lean against a wall with the ball in the painful muscle. Find the right spot and stay there for 3-5 minutes or until you feel multiple releases of the tissue and your back. You can use a tennis ball, inflated rubber ball, dryer ball, dog toy like a kong or other firm but flexible ball or toy to release the muscles and tissues almost anywhere on your body where you have pain or that feels tight, hard or tender. See the picture and description below to start treating your back today. Another great resource for treating yourself with a ball and myofascial release techniques is the Myofascial Stretching Book by Brenda Party and Jill Stendronsky, which you can buy on Amazon.

Self Myofascial Release with an Inflatable Ball

Myofascial Release with a Ball

Lay on the ground, a mat, blanket or your bed. You can also try this sitting in a chair or even in your car if you have a long commute. Each surface will provide a different level of resistance or pressure.

Roll to your side and position the ball under your back, near the spot where you hurt, feel pain or tightness. The ball should be in the muscles to the side of your spine, on your sacrum (the boney plate at the base of your spine) or hip . Roll flat and let your body relax and sink into the ball. Breathe deep and allow yourself to let go.

These techniques are gentle, sustained and relaxing. You should allow yourself to move and adjust as you feel your body letting go, however, moving back and forth over the tender area is not the goal of this self treatment.

These areas may feel tight, tender, or like “the spot” and the techniques should feel good.

Spend 3 to 5 minutes in each area to allow the fascia to release.

Slowly roll on your side to reposition or to stand up.

If this feels really good to you and you want to learn more about myofascial release, the Myofascial Stretching Book is a wonderful tool, which I recommend to all of my patients.

If at any time this does not feel good or you feel something is wrong, please stop and consult your local physical therapist.


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    • profile image

      Johnd554 3 years ago

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    • profile image

      Syed Usman jeelani 3 years ago

      Most informatics....for everyone.

    • Dr. Aaron LeBauer profile image

      Aaron LeBauer 5 years ago from Greensboro, NC

      Wonderful, I'm glad you all have found this guide helpful. It's what I refer my friends, family and people who live out of town when they call me and ask for help with their back pain.

    • MySciaticaRelief profile image

      MySciaticaRelief 5 years ago from California

      Excellent guide! I directed some of my website's visitors to your page because of your helpful guide on how to relieve back pain.

    • KarenChamblee profile image

      KarenChamblee 5 years ago from Texas

      Thanks Doc! Very helpful!

    • Dr. Aaron LeBauer profile image

      Aaron LeBauer 5 years ago from Greensboro, NC


      Thanks for your comment. I'm not an expert in anti inflammatory diets. I can say that weather or not you have a herniated disc or arthritis in your spine or both, does not always pinpoint the reason why you have back pain. Herniations can and do get reabsorbed by the body, and arthritis is also a normal part of ageing. 40/100 people with out back pain who have an MRI of their spine with have a herniation, arthritis, stenosis or other pathology. The best thing to do for back pain is to move, bed rest is no longer the standard of treatment. The best thing you can do to prevent a new injury or this from occurring in the future is to see a physical therapist who specializes in manual therapy and sof tissue treatment so they can develop an individualized plan and treat any soft tissue restrictions that you probably have. You could also see a massage therapist who specializes in myofascial release, deep tissue, structural integration, neuromuscular therapy, etc. good luck and let me know if you have any other questions.

    • KarenChamblee profile image

      KarenChamblee 5 years ago from Texas

      Would love to see a hub about what types of supplements/diets are out there to decrease inflammation/promote healing to help with herniated disc due to degenerative discs (arthritis in the back). I have had 4 c-sections, 3 severe back episodes (L4/L5) that each required weeks of bed rest to recover from. Along with core strengthening, and relearning how to move/lift, isn't there something else I can do to prevent a new injury or help heal quicker next time?

    • Dr. Aaron LeBauer profile image

      Aaron LeBauer 6 years ago from Greensboro, NC

      thanks again for the positive feedback. let me know if any of you have suggestions for future topics you would like to learn more about.

      @peg thanks for passing this on.

    • profile image

      sivakumar 6 years ago

      good message, thanks for giving. wish to post many related things like this.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 6 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      You're off to a great start with this well written and informative hub. Congratulations on figuring all this stuff out so quickly. I'm sure you'll be quite successful here. And I'll be sure to forward this hub to my sister who lives near Greensboro. It's exactly what the Doctor ordered.

      Best regards,


    • kittythedreamer profile image

      Nicole Canfield 6 years ago from the Ether

      Hi, Dr. I voted this hub up and useful! Very helpful tips, indeed. I have to agree with the lower back yoga exercises, as my husband has had trouble with his lower back in the recent past and certain yoga stretches really have helped relieve the pain. Core exercises are wonderful in strengthening the core of the body, which does help prevent injury. I can't wait to read what you have in store for us for the future. Great job on your first hub.

    • Dr. Aaron LeBauer profile image

      Aaron LeBauer 6 years ago from Greensboro, NC

      Thanks for the feedback. I'm glad it's been helpful.

    • JasonCulley profile image

      JasonCulley 6 years ago from Cheyenne, WY

      I have had back problems since 2008 . . . thanks for the advice and welcome to HubPages.

    • Stone Gifts profile image

      Stone Gifts 6 years ago from London

      Was interesting to read. Congratulations with the first hub!

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 6 years ago from the short journey

      Fabulous first hub. Thanks so much for this helpful information. Voted up and bookmarked.

    • Dr. Aaron LeBauer profile image

      Aaron LeBauer 6 years ago from Greensboro, NC

      Susan, thanks for your feedback. I'll have a few more hubs up soon. The first one took quite a bit of time to figure out.

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I have had back problems all my life and found your hub quite informative. I am sure many people will find your hub quite beneficial. Thanks for sharing.

      Welcome to HubPages, I look forward to reading more hubs from you.

    • Dr. Aaron LeBauer profile image

      Aaron LeBauer 6 years ago from Greensboro, NC

      Thank you very much. I'm glad this is useful for you. Please let me know if you ever have any questions.

    • AEvans profile image

      Julianna 6 years ago from SomeWhere Out There

      Very valuable information! This is one that I will definitely use and thanks for all of the videos that clearly explains how to do the exercises! Great job! Welcome to HP! :)