According to the American Chiropractic Association, 80% of Americans will experience back pain at some point in their lives, and half of all working Americans already suffer from back pain. Generally, pain is caused by arthritis, poor posture, obesity, and psychological stress. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to alleviate your back pain.
One of the biggest things to do to relieve your back pain is exercise. Physical activity releases endorphins that cause the brain to block pain signals. You don't have to run a marathon in order to get some relief. Some of the most helpful activities are yoga, meditation, walking two to three miles per day a few times a week, and stationary cycling. If you choose cycling, be sure to maintain proper posture.
Poor posture is another issue that can cause serious back pain. Doctors have discovered that tilting your head forward increases weight on your neck from 12 pounds to 27 pounds. The Mayo Clinic has outlined proper posture to follow. While standing, your shoulders should be relaxed with your feet hip-distance apart. Balance your weight on both feet and hang your arms naturally. Don't tilt your head or lock your knees; keep them naturally relaxed.
For optimal posture while sitting, place both feet flat on the floor. Your knees should be level with your hips. Sit back in the chair. The chair should support your back's lower curve. Stretch your head toward the ceiling and tuck your chin slightly. Your upper back and neck should be straight with your shoulders relaxed.
To test your posture, follow these steps: Place your head, shoulder blades, and buttocks against a wall. Your heels should be two to four inches from the wall. Slide your hand behind the curve of your back. A single hand should fit between your back and the wall. Is there too much space? Tighten your abdominal muscles. Is there too little space? Arch your back. Finally, walk from the wall and maintain this position.
Getting restorative sleep is another thing a person can do to alleviate back pain. Two thirds of patients with back pain suffer from sleep disorders. Medication such as antihistamines, as well as cutting back on caffeine and establishing a routine before bed, can help. When waking up, stretch your arms over your head and pull both your knees to your chest. This will align your hip bones and strength the muscles in your lower back.
Applying cold and then heat to your back can help, but when all else fails, you may want to consider natural remedies. Ginger is a natural anti-inflammatory, as is capsaicin, which is an ingredient from chili peppers. Both can be taken orally, but be sure to talk to your doctor before adding anything new to your diet.