Relief For Back Pain

Nearly 80 percent of Americans will experience back discomfort at some time in their lives.

In this section, you will be given some general information about the back and shown how to relieve pain there:

Keeping the spine in a straight line during all activities is one of the, if not the most effective ways to prevent low-back pain, especially while walking and sitting. Lazy posture places extra strain on the vertebrae and disks, especially if there is disc damage. To help you avoid slouching, place a small pillow 2-3 inches thick behind your lower back when you sit. And avoid prolonged sitting. Equally important is lifting properly. When lifting, bring the object as close as possible to your body. This lessens spinal strain and places the weight in a position where the powerful leg muscles can help lift. Even more important than sitting up straight is a healthy diet. A junk food, high in fat and sugar diet causes your bones and muscles to be undernourished and can eventually cause deterioration of spinal disk material, bones and muscles.

People who have been in pain for awhile tend to tighten their muscles to guard the area, which makes it like a chunk of steel. Gently stretching will help you prevent this. If it hurts to stand or sit up, lay on your back as much as possible. Put several pillows under your legs and bend your knees a little. Place a rolled bath towel under your back - right in the lumbar curve. If you tape the towel's ends it'll stay rolled and keep its shape. That reduces the pressure on your back and will allow you to feel more comfortable. If you lie on your side, put a pillow or a small roll under your waist and a pillow between your legs. It's best not to sleep on your stomach if your back is aching, according to back experts.

Lower back sufferers usually have a swayback. This condition can gradually be changed by tucking in your chin, tightening stomach muscles and by tucking the buttocks under, which tilts the pelvis toward the back, providing support for the lower spine. Keep your knees unlocked or slightly flexed. This will help you to keep the all-important "S" curve. For those of you who flop themselves down hard on a chair or a sofa - stop! This technique overstretches the lower back ligaments while compressing the spinal nerves. When standing for awhile, tilt your pelvis back and flatten the small of your back by putting a foot on a stool.

For long-term back pain relief, you need an exercise plan that improves posture, strengthens stomach, back and the hamstring muscles and one that stabilizes the lower back - the most vulnerable point. You might want to check out the YMCA's "Y's Way to a Healthy Back Program."

Walking is great for your back, also. It strengthens and makes it more flexible. It also reduces everyday stress which contributes greatly to lower back pain.

Bent leg sit ups, curling to the middle of the back, while keeping the lower back on the floor, provide a safe way to tone stomach muscles. Even touching your toes can be safe. Just be certain to flex your knees, tuck the hips and slowly reach down to your toes. Another way to get those "abs" in shape and help your back - is to lie on your back on a cushioned surface with knees bent, tense your stomach muscles pressing the small of your back into the floor. Now tighten your buttocks, lift your hips slightly off the ground, and hold for a count of eight. Release slowly and rest for eight counts and repeat.

Again, for optimal "back health," regular exercise is necessary. If its walking or running, do buy some top quality shoes before beginning your program. 8,000 steps are taken everyday by the average person, most of them on hard surfaces like cement, tile and wood. The spine's lumbar area is irritated when the heel hits - causing shock waves to travel there. If you must walk on hard surfaces, wear well-cushioned and thick-soled shoes. If you run or walk a lot, if possible, do so on soft earth.

Ask your practitioner about nutritional support for your spine (especially for women). If you have flat arches, do yourself a tremendous favor and talk to your podiatrist or chiropractor* about orthotics and possibly a spinal adjustment. If your ankles turn excessively in or out, they will throw your entire spine out of line all the way to the base of your neck. This could cause hip joint, back, and other pain. For those of you unable to purchase an orthotic at this time, try the new shoe inserts made of space-age polyurethane. These inserts help lower back pain by compressing at impact and then returning to their original position, thus increasing impact duration.

*Dr. Dean Edell in his nationally syndicated column in October, of '92, says this about back and neck trouble, "Before you agree to something as drastic as drugs or surgery for pain, see if a chiropractor can help."

Mind Over Matter

Dr. Sarno of New York City's Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine, believes that subconscious feelings, and in particular, repressed anger and anxiety, cause the brain to restrict blood flow to areas of the body. Most people refuse to look at these so-called unacceptable emotions. When denied and avoided they tend to express themselves through the body as illness, and/or pain. Tiny blood vessels narrow, lessening the oxygen supply to muscles and nerves. This results in pain, numbness, tingling, weakness, or some combination that causes one to live in dread of the next pain episode.

Dr. Sarno says that within 2-3 weeks of attending his lectures, 90% of the audience will realize dramatic, if not complete pain relief. He also tells them to give up any back exercises they're doing. He says, "Don't exercise to ease your back pain." "Exercise to feel good, to grow fit and strong, to be as vigorous as you can be." He insists that people make the connection between feelings, thoughts and their physical states.

Relief For General Back Discomfort

Lie on your back and carefully put ankles on top of a chair back. If chair is unpadded, place a doubled up towel beneath your heels. Breathe deeply while doing this for 4-10 minutes. The pain will usually lessen within the first few minutes. When your pain diminishes, try this: While laying on your back, bring one knee to the chest and hold for 10 seconds while breathing deeply. Repeat with other knee. To stretch hamstrings, in same position, pull straight leg up to a perpendicular position with a belt or tie and pull it slowly as close to your chest as is comfortable. If someone is around, have them pull and gently stretch each leg 5-10 times. This can alleviate the pressure by giving the vertebrae more "space". Also, alternate applications of heat and ice to the pained area. Bed rest, not longer than 2 days, can help.

Foot Reflexology For the Back

Foot reflexology can be an effective treatment for a sore back.

Before beginning the reflexology, soak the feet in hot water and Epsom salts or 1/2 cup each of baking soda and sea salt (find in natural foods store) to assist toxin release. This also soothes and relaxes tired feet. For neck and shoulder tension release and general body pain, work the corresponding area of the foot with a small circular motion.

For Lower and General Back Pain


Rub the arches of each foot with moderate pressure for 15-30 seconds each.


Press firmly on edge of tailbone for 10-20 seconds.


Move to the base of your spine and press points for three seconds each along both sides up to your waistline.


Locate the indentations in your buttocks and press with thumbs firmly for 30 seconds or more - if time.


Massage buttocks with a kneading motion for 10 seconds.


Rub the hollows at the top of your neck deeply and rub scalp vigorously for 15 seconds or longer.

Upper and Middle Back Pain Relief

1. Work the entire length of the arch-edge using firm pressure.

2. Press firmly on the tip of your tailbone for 4-12 seconds. Then press the points on either side all the way up to your waistline.

Sciatica Relief

1. Find the indentations on the outside edge of the buttocks. Press one side at a time deeply with the thumb for 5-10 seconds, then rub circularly for 15-30 seconds.

2. Massage the buttocks with a kneading motion while paying special attention to the tense areas.

Foot Reflexology For the Lower Back

Locate the spots on lower arch-edge of the foot.

This area corresponds to the lower back.

With one foot, then the other, massage these points with your thumb, working in a circular motion, probing deeply. Do each point for five seconds.

NOTES: If you're experiencing severe or persistent pain, see a qualified health professional.

If you do a lot of standing, put your bent leg on a chair or your foot on a short stool to relieve back pressure.

Here's a number to call if you have any questions about the nature of back pain: Texas Back Institute 1-800-247-2225.

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