As body aches go, lower back pain can be a real doozy, and it affects a surprising number of adults. Long hours spent at a desk, stuck in traffic, and sitting in front of the television (not to mention old mattresses, lack of exercise, stress, and even heredity) can all leave your back muscles tight, uncomfortable, spasming, or full of knots. And while you can certainly take medication to dull the pain, do you really want to exist on a lifelong regimen of pill-popping? In case you didn’t know, there are a lot of ways to treat back pain that can be done naturally without ever resorting to pain killers (although extreme pain should be checked with a doctor).
1. Heat. One of the best ways to loosen up tight muscles is to apply heat, and this can be accomplished by taking a long, hot bath. Of course, not everyone has access to a tub, so a shower can work in a pinch. But you may be better served to try a heating pad or hot water bottle. The only real advantage of a bath over other methods is that you can relax your whole body (which releases tension in all of your muscles).
2. Massage. Consider for a moment the children’s song that tells you which bones in the body are connected to others (the hip bone’s connected to the leg bone, etc.). While simple, this song makes a good point about the human body, which is that each part is connected to another part, and another, in succession, so that what affects one part of the body also affects other parts. A full body massage is a great way to ensure that all of your muscles (not just those in your back) get a reboot for less pain and improved function.
3. Weight loss. Extra pounds can cause serious health concerns, and lower back pain is just the tip of the iceberg. The main problem, however, is really a lack of exercise and muscle tone. Luckily, you can kill two birds with one stone by adopting a diet and exercise regimen that will help you to lose weight and build up your core muscle group. Swimming, in particular, provides low impact and moderate resistance, both of which are great for your body.
4. Yoga. This type of exercise is good for your whole body because it increases strength, tone, and flexibility. But it is particularly relevant for the muscles of your back because almost every position requires you to engage the core muscles in your abdomen and lower back, an act that fortifies your trunk. The addition of stretching helps to release tightness and make muscles long and lean.
5. Meditation. One of the very best ways to reduce stress and combat attendant tension is to engage in the traditional art of meditation. Sometimes the simple act of focusing on your breath and letting go of everything else can allow your body to relax deeply enough to truly begin to unwind. And while most people see it as a mental respite, it can also have some wonderful benefits for your body, from improving your posture to reducing lower back pain.