Backaches are awful. If you have serious back pain, always see a doctor. However, if your back pain is from strain or bending more than usual – those everyday twinges and aches, perhaps some of the following tips can help you.
Biting Backaches: Prevention
- Avoid any sudden strain. Exercise regularly to limber the back and strengthen its supporting abdominal muscles.
- If you sit for long periods, make sure your back is property supported. Place a small roll in the arch of your lower spine (at belt height) to maintain its normal S-curve. Stuff the inside of a paper towel roll with rags and strengthen it with masking tape for a home made roll.
- When lifting, never bend down from the waist. Lower and raise yourself at the knees. Keep your back straight and hold the object close to your body.
- Balance items you carry evenly on both sides of your body and hold them close. Alternatively, use a back pack.
- Sleep on your back if possible, with knees raised on a pillow. If you sleep on your side, a pillow between the knees is a big help.
- For a firm bed, place a bed board between the mattress and the box spring. Cut a sheet of 3/4-inch plywood 1 inch smaller all around than your mattress and sand its edges for a home madeÂ bed board.
- Limit activity or stray in bed for 48 hours.
- Depending on which works better for you, apply either heat or a cold pack for 15 minutes at a time every couple of hours over a period of 2 days. Keep an athlete’s soft cold pack in the freezer or use a bag of frozen peas. Both will mold easily to your back.
- Aspirin or ibuprofen will help combat both pain and inflammation. Acetaminophen only pain.
- To minimize chronic minor back pain, tip your pelvis back, then forward, until you find the position of least pain. Maintain it.
Strengthening and stretching the muscles of your lower back will help prevent lower back strain. The following exercises progress from gentle to strenuous. Do only what is comfortable for you. Stop exercising the moment you feel pain. If you have had back problems, consult your doctor before starting.
- Pelvic Tilt. Lie on your back with both of your knees bent. Keeping your spine against the floor, squeeze your buttock muscles as hard as you can. Pull your stomach muscles in, flatten the small of your back to the floor and hold for five seconds. Your pelvis will tilt slightly upward of its own accord. Don’t try to raise it. Repeat 10 times.
- Cat Stretch. Kneel on your hands and knees. Then arch your upper back upward, contract your stomach muscles, and let your head drop. Hold for five seconds. Follow this by raisin your head and reversing the action until you return to the kneeling position. Avoid pushing your pelvis forward to create a sway back. Repeat 5 to 10 times.
- Hip Roll. Lie on your back, both arms out for support. Raise your knees toward your chest and then roll them gently from side to side, keeping your shoulders on the floor if you can. Roll 10 to 20 times.
- Backward Leg Raises. Lie flat on your stomach, resting your head on folded arms. Keeping your pelvis on the floor, slowly raise one leg from the hip until your foot is 6 inches above the floor. Repeat 5 to 10 times with each leg.
- Single Leg Raises. Lie on your back, knees bent, arms crossed under your head, and both elbows touching the floor. Straighten one leg. Slowly raise it as high as you can. Hold it 5 seconds, then lower it slowly to the floor. Repeat 5 to 10 times with each leg.
- Diagonal Reach. Start on your hands and knees. Slowly reach your right arm out in front of you. At the same time, reach your left leg straight out behind you. Stretch and hold for 5 seconds. Return to your original position. Then stretch your left arm and right leg. Repeat 10 times.
Home Made Back Packs
To make a temporary back pack for carrying your lunch on as short hike, bringing home trail-side treasures, or transporting other light objects, just close the waist of a long-sleeved sweatshirt or jacket with pins or string. Knot the sleeve ends together to form a strap. Stuff your cargo inside, slip the strap over your shoulders and you’re on your way.
Days Gone By: Victorian Back Aches
Consider the Victorian corset. Made of heavy canvas, with vertical stays of whalebone or steel, it encased a woman in a rigid cage from hip to bust. Many little girls got their first one at age three or four. By adolescence they were wearing adult versions, tightly laced up the back to achieve something close to Scarlett O’Hara’s triumph of a 17 inch waist.
Ladies of the time were thought to be so delicate that their muscles couldn’t hold them upright without assistance. The corset made this myth a reality. By the time girls were ready for adult corsets, their back and abdominal muscles had atrophied so badly that many couldn’t sit or stand without one.