11 Ways to Ease Back Pain and Stiffness

Published: April 11, 2018

person with hand lower back

At Back In Motion Balnarring we specialise in helping people ease their back pain and stiffness, and return to the activities they love to do. 

In this blog I will share with you 11 tips to help ease your back pain. There is no particular order to do them and they all work to improve your pain.

Of course, without knowing your back pain or history thoroughly, I cannot tell you exactly which will work best for you.

However, if you practise one of these strategies every day so it becomes a habit, I believe you’ll be pleasantly surprised how much better and healthier you will feel for doing so!

1 Avoid sitting for more than an hour at a time. We evolved to be on the move, not sit.  When we sit either supported upright or slouched, we do not use our core muscles that are designed to support your back.  In an office situation at work, get up and move around for a few minutes at least every hour.  Have a walk at lunchtime too.  This will help your metabolism and mental health, not just your back!

2 Use Ice (Not heat).  Back inflammation is best helped by twenty minutes of ice, not a hot pack.  Heat can make you feel better in the morning if your back is stiff, but if you have injured your back, like spraining your ankle, ice is the go.  It will help reduce inflammation quicker.  Twenty minutes every 2 hours as a rough guide.

3 Avoid High heels.  They change the way your back moves by tilting the pelvis forwards.  This is one of the simplest fixes for a woman with back pain who wears heels.

4 Don’t use a bag on one shoulder.  It may be a handbag, schoolbag, or just tradies using tools and lifting loads on their dominant side. This is one of the most common causes of back pain and stiffness we see.  Repeated use of one side will overdevelop the opposite side of the back causing muscle imbalances, and joint pain in the lower back.  This will be felt as a stiff back.  So, be very wary of your shoulder position (they must be even as much as possible) and try to load your arms up evenly where possible.

5 Walk regularly.  For most people this places their back in a position where their core muscles work. If walking is painful, this is where there may be some adjustments needed to the pelvic (sacro-iliac) joints, or exercises specific and designed by your physio to counter some of your particular natural laxity.  ( more about this later with the Pilates tip)  Once pain on walking is sorted, you will be able to increase both your mental and physical health, and further develop core muscle control with every step you make.

6 If you must sit, sit straight.  Do not slouch on the couch at all sorts of crooked angles. This will just affect the alignment of your back vertebra as they are stacked on top of each other.  We may as well as stack them straight!  My preferred way of sitting is practising upright, unsupported sitting on a fit ball.  While I am doing this, I can work on my head, neck and shoulder blade posture, as well as my lower back.  It doesn’t have to be done on a ball.  A kitchen chair is fine.  Just don’t lean back.  Fifteen minutes every night will make a big difference to your back stability muscles, and build great postural awareness.

7 Have a firm mattress that does not slump in the middle. This is similar to slouching on the couch.  If your mattress is getting old, there are plenty of stores where you can get a mattress individually fitted.  This is a great investment in your back and sleep.

8 Get to know a good physio.  There isn’t a better and quicker way to fix your back pain than getting to a hands-on specialist physio to relax and massage those tight muscles, loosen those stiff back joints, and teach you exercises specific to your particular problem.  If you combine the 11 tips in this report, with a visit to the physio, you will see a dramatic decrease in your back pain and stiffness you are currently suffering.  This is my number one tip.

9 Learn a daily back exercise routine from your physio and live it.  It’s all about Habits.  Good and bad.  This is often the hard bit, but we all need to develop healthy routines to bombproof our health.  The routine will make the exercises easier to do.  If you have trouble with being disciplined there are always classes.

10 Regular Pilates is the second most important of my tips for maintaining a healthy back, and can really transform your health.  These exercises, which can be done in a class, or at home, are designed to develop tone in the muscles that control your lower back movement, and we all have different needs in this area, which our physios can design individually for you.  Pilates is all about controlling your back movement so you do not reinjure it.  Most of us have stretched ligaments in our backs though the activities we have undertaken at work, sport or school.  As you maintain these exercises at a class or at home, your chance of injuring your back reduces dramatically.

11 Take care with stretching.  Not all stretching is good.  In fact some rotational and side-bending stretching can create instability and injury.  Stretching needs to be in a certain direction for each individual, in line with their Pilates assessment.  This is best given by a Physio skilled in Pilates.

There are my 11 tips for a healthy lower back. These are a great start to living a healthier more fulfilling lifestyle. Obviously, we can go into more depth about your specific problem; however, if you are disciplined and routine with these tips, these will make a huge difference to your life. Over the next few weeks, I will be sharing some video tips for backs on our Back In Motion Balnarring Facebook page

If you have any questions about treatment of your back pain, call 59 831 021 to speak to me or another Physio in our team to see how we can start helping you with your sore back.

Dedicated to get you Back in Motion

Paul Rowson

Director Back In Motion Balnarring