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Relief from Back Pain

Updated on September 25, 2011

Medical research has shown as much as up to 90% of back pain is caused by weak muscles or bad posture. It comes in many forms, from lower, middle or upper back pain to low back pain with sciatica.

Common back pain causes can include nerve and muscular problems, spine deformation, degenerative disc disease, and arthritis. Only a small percentage is a result of an injury, in which case a doctor should be consulted. The same can be said of neck and shoulder pain some mistakenly self-diagnose as fibromyalgia.

Most cases of back pain are the result of a lack of physical activity and a sedentary life style leading to weak back muscles. Weak muscles lead to bad posture. Bad posture causes some muscles to work harder than normal and compress the nerves.

For example, those experiencing back pain will try to find a more comfortable position. Although pain may momentarily subside, what actually happens is another set of muscles will be overworked and will soon become painful as well. It’s a vicious cycle, unless one knows the proper way to treat this common ailment.

Many wrongly assume the answer is babying and resting the afflicted area. This could be true in the beginning when rest may be needed for a healing period. However, after a brief respite, the exact opposite has been recommended by most physicians. Rest and relaxation is usually what caused the problem in the first place.

Some find relief with pain medication or pain killers such as over the counter anti-inflammatory and pain relievers…and perhaps cold or heat packs. However, caution should be used when taking medications whether over the counter or prescription. Medications are prescribed at doses doctors believe will offer the greatest benefit with the least risk. “If one is good, two must be better,” is a common misconception.

Taking more won't speed relief and may negate the effects of the first dose, or worse, cause harmful side effects. If after the recommended dose and sufficient time for it to work pain is still present, see the doctor again.

Homo sapiens have backs made for walking, running, lifting and climbing. But, modern man no longer lives an active, physical life required by their ancestors. Many spend more time sitting than in strenuous pursuits. As a consequence, our backs have grown weaker and studies show sitting is the worst thing one can do. Many have sit down jobs. Weak backs will not become stronger by sitting. It's to be expected, many will end up with chronic back pain.

There are those who hate the idea of exercise, but that’s what most doctors will prescribe. But don’t despair. Exercise doesn’t have to be exhausting and strenuous. There are many easy and simple exercises which have been proven effective.

Walking and jogging are great for leg muscles and cardiovascular system, but they don’t target the back where the problem lies. However, if back pain becomes a problem while walking and jogging, it could be remedied by simply getting a better pair of shoes.

Muscles of the back, abdomen, and buttocks support the spine and exercises to strengthen and stretch them can prevent and even eliminate lower back pain. However, first consult a physician before doing any exercises if you have back pain, a back condition or other medical problem.

Stretching exercises lengthen muscles and relieve back pain. But remember to warm up first with a few minutes of light aerobics such as walking or riding a stationary bike to reduce the risk of injury. Shortened muscles affect spine alignment and can cause back pain. Stretching the back also increases spinal joint mobility. Some also find stretching after exercise can loosen up tightened muscles.

Knee to chest exercises are a good place to start. Lie on a comfortable mat and bend one knee, supporting it with the hands, towards the chest. Then repeat with the other knee. This stretch should be kept each time for about 15 seconds.

Another good exercise is the back extension. In back extensions one lies on their stomach with the upper body region hanging out over the edge of a bed. Lower the upper body, until the head touches the ground and then resume the parallel position.

To strengthen buttock muscles, squats are recommended. Stand with back facing a wall about a foot away from it in case one loses their balance. Without moving the feet squat from the knees until thighs are parallel to the ground holding the position for 10 seconds. Repeat up to 15 times.

The calf stretch is also a good exercise. Using a wall again, stand facing it at about two feet away. Lean forward pressing forehead and hands on it without moving the knees until the lower leg muscles begin to stretch.

These exercises can all be easily done in privacy at home. Watch the Video!


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    • mirror_eyes profile image

      mirror_eyes 6 years ago from north Texas

      I can soooooo relate to this one - and verify the truth of it by mine own experience! I have started doing back exercises and stretches almost daily, and have never felt so GREAT!

    • JY3502 profile image

      John Young 6 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

      Thanks, This one took some research and time.

    • PETER LUMETTA profile image

      PETER LUMETTA 6 years ago from KENAI, ALAKSA

      Good advice and a real answer for some common pain, Thanks


    • Paradise7 profile image

      Paradise7 6 years ago from Upstate New York

      Excellent advice. After experiencing sciatica, the doctor gave me a little pamphlet with seven back excercises, which I do three or four times a day. It only takes ten minutes or so, each time, and the difference is remarkable. The benefits are apparent within a couple of days. I do sit a lot at the computer; I also used to drive a long commute back and forth to work, and my car had bucket seats, which are an anathema to a person with back problems. So the exercises are necessary; I can tell the difference within a day when I neglect them.

      Great hub; you really hit the nail on the head.