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Take Charge to Lessen Lower Back Pain

Updated on July 8, 2022
Kristen Howe profile image

Kristen Howe had dealt with her lower back pain by lessening it with exercising, new sneakers, and doing yoga at the gym.

Healing Ways

In Fall 2014, l, I mentioned about my bout of back pain and the recent flare-up I had. I also mentioned some helpful ways on walking and sleep that helps kick the back pain the curb. We all know, physical therapy is expensive, when your health insurance helped paid for it. But it can be beneficial in the long run. If you continue to experience back pain, you should see your doctor. In return, she might refer you to a neurologist who helped you out with your back pain with some suggestions.

My neurologist recommended therapy and cortisone shots that year and the year before it. I haven't done the shots then since I didn't need them. But this alternative medicine to do it once a month might be something to consider and should be less expensive than therapy or needing back surgery. Since October 2014, my back pain slowly went down a notch or two, though it may never be back to normal at zero. Back then, it was about a 1.5 like in 2013, when I finished the first round of therapy sessions. Besides aspirin and rest, walking and exercising helped my posture and my back, twofold.

Take a Walk

One of the things that helped get the healing ball rolling for my back was walking in my new sneakers. It's the easiest low-impact exercise you can do. After I moved in 2014, and started going to the gym, I experienced back pain. But to walk downtown for twenty minutes both ways, and to the gym for ten minutes, both ways, it took me longer to walk. But as I crossed the street to the next sidewalk, I straightened my posture to walk in a straight line. Within time, I haven't experienced the problem again.

If you live close by to a library, a restaurant, or downtown, and if the weather's good, take a walk and put on your walking shoes or sneakers.Just by taking a slow walk would help kink out the aches in no time. Pretty soon, you've straightened out your posture and walking great. If you're a member at your gym, if they have an indoor track, take a lap or two for good exercise. Within time, you'll pick up speed to a brisk walk and maybe to a smooth jog.

During the winter, you can walk up and down your hallway of your home and your apartment building. I did that in my former building, after my heart surgery in 2012 and continued to do so, up until last spring. In my next apartment, I have an outdoor walkway, which I'm going to pass, since it's a bit narrow for foot traffic. But your own hallway would be another great alternative to walk you up as well. If you want some company, grab a buddy to walk with you, too!

Swimming Can be Your Back's Best Friend to Help Relieve Back Pain and Being Active

Go For a Swim

If you love to swim, going for a swim is another excellent low-impact exercise you can do to lessen your back pain. Whether you're an experienced swimmer or do it for fun at your leisure, you can do a half-lap or a lap around the pool in any stroke. That's what I do at my gym, after I do my post-aquatic physical therapy home exercise program, twice a week, for ten minutes. After your workout, you can float on your back to rest your body. If you don't have a pool, heated or not heated, you can do it at your neighbor's or friend's pool, or do it at your gym at your own leisurely pace in the lap or leisure pool. Start off in the shallow end, before you do it at the deep end.

Stretches in Water Aerobics Helps Lower Back Pain, Especially in a Heated Pool

Stretch It Out

Another exercise you can do in the pool is water aerobics. If you gym has one sponsored by the National Arthritis Foundation, you can do it once, twice, or five times a week, every weekday. Doing low-impact water aerobics in a heated pool have helped my back feel better every morning. So if you stretch it out from head to toe on doing repetitive stretches per class, your body would feel better later. One note: doing this in a regular swimming pool wouldn't have the same benefits as a heated pool would. So give it some heat! If you gym doesn't have this kind of low-impact water aerobics class, try to find something that's low impact in its place.

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Try Yoga and/or Pilates

Have you considered trying yoga or Pilates? Both of these low-impact classes will help you out with any back pain, just by meditation, breathing, and working your core muscles. For yoga, start with the basic beginning classes and get into the habit of doing yoga at home for practice, and later at the gym. If you continue to do this and excel in later this year, you'll progress to the next level with harder and flexible exercises. Most yogis I know in my yoga classes preferred this than Pilates. So give it a try. If you want to try simpler classes, give Silver Yoga a shot.

As for Pilates, there's more breathing involved than in Yoga. Instead of meditation, you've worked your core muscles by doing exercises on the mat and using an apparatus, like the exercise ball, magic circle, and resistance band. And, since most exercises you're kneeling or on your back, give this a try to see if it's a fit for you. Start with the basic classes and work your way to the advanced classes. Other classes to try are two fusion classes: Stretch-lates and Yoga-lates.

If you like it, doing Pi-yo can double your health benefits in the long run to help your back pain. Some of the exercises are the same for both classes too. And in the winter, if you're snowbound, and don't want to go in the snow, you can do them at home, if you don't want to miss any classes.

Hydrotherapy and Home Remedies

Hydrotherapy can help you back pain at home or at the gym. Or even at both places. Whether you choice to do swimming, water aerobics, or both, you would feel better in no time. Take advantage of going to the sauna at your gym to detox the pain with steam, relax at the hot tub or whirlpool to massage the area with heated water and the jets. Cool down with a shower.

  1. Take a massaged shower or get a massage. At home, if you have a massage spray with an aeration for your showerhead, take a warm or hot shower. If you don't have one, consider in investing in one, which is cheap and easy to install. I love my new apartment's showerhead, when it had five options than one at my former place. If you love getting massage by a friend or loved one, instead of getting an expensive one at a massage parlor, invest on getting a massage pad with heat. With many speeds, you can massage your whole body, head to toe, and feel relaxed, too. Under $100, it would be a great treat for yourself. I had one, until I moved last fall, and loved it.
  2. Give it some heat. If you have a heating pad, just place it on the sore spot for twenty minutes at a time and take a break. If you have a small pad in which you can microwave it for a few seconds, that would work as well.
  3. Put it on ice. An ice pack in any size or a bag of ice can help bring down the inflammation.
  4. Take a pain-reliever. If you need extra relief, take a tablet or two of aspirin or ibuprofen in low dosage, which would be good for your heart, too. At night, consider taking a PM version of Aleve or Advil for example, that would help you sleep better all night.

My Lumbar Support Roll and Therabands

Last Resorts

If exercise, hydrotherapy, heat, ice, massage, and aspirin doesn't work, I would suggest going to the doctor about aquatic physical therapy or regular land physical therapy sessions for a month or two. Your insurance would pay for it. If you don't want to do the full sessions, you can get discharged early. Ask them to do a home exercise program you can do at home between sessions. Getting a Theraband to do some stretches would be a good investment and inexpensive to pay.

If you want, you can buy IcyHot and invest in Icy Hot Pain Relief products, whether it's patches or creams. Depending on the store, it can range from $5 to $40. I never used them. But you can avoid going to therapy at the same time. Wait until it's on sale and pick up some coupons to save money.

One last tip: use a lumbar support pillow. You can buy one or make one of your own, if you went online. My physical therapist told me the easiest way to make it with two items you can find at home: a small hand towel and two or three rubber bands. It's easy to make! Just roll the towel and bind it with the bands to keep it in place. You can take this on the go, too. So give this a try and help your back immensely without therapy or surgery!

Stay Active!

Back in 2015, my neurologist gave me a clean bill of health since I had minimal back pain. Besides dealing with back pain for two-and-a-half years with two physical therapy sessions, one aquatic pool therapy session, the home exercise program, and the exercises and classes I've done at the gym, it helped me out tremendously. It could work out the same way for you, too, sans the therapy sessions and exercises. Stay active to avoid future occurrences of back pain.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2015 Kristen Howe


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