With back pain, you need to distinguish between acute and chronic pain. Depending on the type of back pain, there are things you can do to help the healing process or to relieve the pain. Certainly consider visiting a doctor or back specialist if the pain does not decrease or additional complications arise. Relief from back pain can often be achieved with the following methods.
Solutions to relieve back pain
In case of acute back pain, lie down for a while several times a day and try to achieve calm breathing. The supine position relaxes the entire back and takes the pressure off the intervertebral discs. Even better is the stepped position, in which it is best to lie on the floor with the legs bent at 90° on a chair, bed or sofa. In this position, the lumbar spine lies flat on the floor and the intervertebral discs are relieved to the maximum. When getting up, you should do this carefully and without haste, so that the painful area does not become even more blocked.
Don’t sit too long, don’t stand too long
Sitting for too long is a major cause of back pain. Often this results from an unergonomic posture, which causes the classic lower back pain due to a hunched back posture. Therefore, get up more often during the day. Not only will this activate blood circulation, but your spine will return to its natural position. This interaction of sitting and standing has a positive effect on your back and your overall well-being.
Because standing for too long can also be harmful, you should alternate between standing and sitting. A height-adjustable office desk or desk attachment is recommended for this purpose. Also, place the printer a little farther away so you are forced to stand up.
When sitting, be sure to maintain an ergonomic posture. Unfortunately many office chairs have inadequate support in the lumbar region, i.e. the lower back. If necessary, use an additional back support or purchase an ergonomic office chair. You should try out the chair, to avoid any unpleasant surprises and to enable your back in a comfortable and healthy posture while sitting.
The magic of movement
For self-healing and as a preventive measure, movement is one of the best formulas for the health of the back, blood circulation, heart and the entire musculoskeletal system. Try to move as much as possible every day. For example, take the stairs instead of the elevator or run errands on foot or by bicycle. If you drive or take public transportation to work, get off one stop earlier or park a little farther from your destination so that you have to move more. Taking a walk during your lunch break can be an added bonus for exercise and is not only beneficial for your body, but also motivates your mind. Regular exercise is highly recommended, even for people who don’t feel like athletes. Every person can do sports in his or her own way, be it jogging, cycling, swimming or doing adapted exercises in a fitness center. People who exercise regularly not only improve their quality of life, but also increase their life expectancy. So don’t wait until tomorrow to start exercising more, but take the step today and get a good solution for back pain.
Medications offer quick relief for back pain, but this is purely symptom treatment without addressing the root cause of the problem. An over-the-counter pain reliever can certainly be soothing for the moment. Nevertheless, take medication only for short periods of time and consult your doctor if the pain persists. Since medications almost always cause a side effect, avoid them as much as possible and use them only as a temporary solution for back pain.
Heat relaxes the muscles
A common cause, especially for upper back pain, is muscle tension. This is caused by various factors, such as stress, incorrect posture when sitting or standing, an unergonomic way of working and, above all, a lack of movement. To relax the muscles and thus provide relief from back pain, heat is an ideal remedy. Heat stimulates blood circulation, causing the muscles to relax and thus decreasing the sensation of pain. Cramps in the neck area can also be easily relieved in many cases. The heat quickly reduces the perception of pain.
Cold against acute pain
Cold has the property of inhibiting inflammation thereby relieving pain. The cold causes the blood vessels to constrict and the blood flow is thus reduced. It is best to wrap the cold pack or ice in a towel so that there is no direct skin contact to prevent freezing the skin. In any case, the application of cold packs should not be too long. Depending on the part of the body, this may be 5 to 15 minutes to a maximum of 20 minutes. With cold, swelling is contained, irritation of the nerves is reduced and relief from back pain can be achieved. However, the application of cold seems to be useful only at the beginning of pain in the back. After that, heat is often a better remedy. Let your doctor inform you about this as well.
Tips for back pain
Bend your knees when lifting loads
As a general rule, avoid lifting heavy loads. If you are forced to do so, never lift the load with a hunched back, but squat down while doing so. So bend your knees and walk towards the floor with a straight back. While lifting the load, your back must remain completely straight so that the intervertebral discs remain evenly loaded to avoid lower back pain. Always use this method, even with lighter loads, because many herniated discs are caused by a bent back when lifting loads, even if they are not so heavy.
With one leg in the trunk when putting loads into the car
A dangerous moment for your back is loading the trunk of the car. Since you must stand with your legs further back than the drop-off point of the bags and other shopping paraphernalia, you inevitably end up in an unhealthy position with a hunched back. A useful tip for back pain when loading the trunk is as follows: stand with one leg in the trunk and only then put the load down. Since one foot is in the trunk, the spine remains in a straight position and the intervertebral discs are thus evenly stressed without risking back damage.
Strengthening the muscles of the back
You can strengthen your back muscles and abdominal muscles relatively easily with exercises at the gym or at home. Both help to strengthen the back and are an ideal formula for gaining relief from back pain. Consult a fitness center for advice on which exercises are best for you and learn how to do them properly. On YouTube you can find many ways to specifically strengthen your back and abdominal muscles.
Digitalization has made us humans much more efficiently, but paradoxically, has not decreased stress. Everyone is familiar with stressful situations and experiences them regularly at work or in their private lives. In stressful situations, our body produces adrenaline, but this has the side effect of making our muscles tense, which in the long run causes back pain. Since body and mind work closely together, stressful situations are often caused by mental suffering. As a result, neck tension and pain in the back become noticeable. Stress also has a lot to do with your attitude to life, and this is where you should take action to lead a more balanced life. A proven tip for back pain and stress relief is movement. Jogging, for example, can be done practically anywhere and can be done in any weather. It helps to clear your head, and the extra oxygen you take in has a positive effect on your bloodstream and activates your brain. If you are not a fan of jogging, you can go for walks. Also, a proven way to relieve stress is to schedule moments of exercise directly into your agenda so that they can be safely realized. Meditations are also ways to relieve stress or treat yourself to a hot bath, which additionally relaxes the muscles and relieves back pain.
The intervertebral discs consist largely of water, which keeps them flexible and act like shock absorbers in the spine. Lack of fluids consequently has a direct effect on the intervertebral discs. Drink 0.4 – 0.5 gallons of water daily. If the body has sufficient fluids, this can nip various ailments in the bud, as water helps to eliminate toxins and keeps general body functions in balance. Water is an ideal solution for back pain and should not be replaced by soft drinks, alcohol or coffee, which can cause other harmful side effects.
Ergonomic office chair, dynamic sitting
Lower back pain in particular is often the result of an unergonomic office chair, with too little support in the lumbar area. Make sure your office chair has enough curvature in the lower back area to prevent the spine from falling into a curve. With many office chairs, especially those with mesh upholstery, you often sag in the lower back, which can trigger classic L4/L5 disc herniations after a while. The best office chairs are those that have individual lumbar support so that the pressure in the lumbar area can be adjusted individually. If your chair does not have this, you can either use a small cushion or various ergonomic add-ons that can be placed at the back of the office chair. Of course, it would be best if such options were already included in the office chair and that the back cushions were shaped to promote the natural S-shape of the spine while sitting.
Since moving is fundamentally healthy, this should also be effected when sitting. Do not fix your backrest, but let it move freely. Adjust the counterpressure of the backrest so that you are not pushed forward too much, but do not receive too little support and at worst fall away backwards. You should be in a comfortable moving position with your back. This guarantees dynamic sitting, which can eliminate back pain because of the chair and keeps the intervertebral discs supple.
Height adjustable office desk
Neither sitting for too long nor standing for too long is healthy. Therefore, alternate between sitting and standing. This simple tip for back pain is easy to apply and works very well. For this purpose, a height-adjustable office desk is recommended, which is usually adjusted electronically, although there are some models with gas springs or a mechanical spring system, which eliminate the need for electricity. If you don’t have a height-adjustable office desk, you can either use a desk attachment or perform certain tasks on a raised office box. To help you alternate more “automatically” between sitting and standing, you can, for example, make all phone calls standing, which makes many people feel stronger, which can be an added benefit during difficult phone calls. Meetings should also be held standing as much as possible. Very often, this not only makes meetings more efficient, but also shortens them.
Place screen ergonomically
Upper back pain, especially neck pain and headaches, is caused by an incorrectly placed screen. The main mistake here is the height, which is usually too high. The top edge of the screen should be about a finger’s width below the center of your eyes. This way, you look slightly above the top edge of the screen when looking straight ahead, and you have a slightly tilted head when looking at the monitor. This posture relieves the neck and no cramping occurs, which occurs with a screen that is too high. To ensure the correct distance, you should be able to lightly touch the monitor with your fingertips when your arm is extended. Place the screen directly in front of you so that you are sitting exactly in the middle and have equal distance to the left and right. This ensures ergonomic work and prevents an unnatural twist when working with the monitor, which will proactively relieve back pain.
He who rests rusts
Remaining in the same position for a long time has a negative effect not only on the back, but also on the brain and blood circulation. This usually happens in a sedentary position, and back pain because of a chair is practically a given. Therefore, move around as much as possible. Stand up again and again, preferably every 20 minutes for a few minutes. This immediately stimulates blood circulation and activates the brain, while at the same time protecting the back. Move as much as possible and build in deliberate movement breaks as needed. You should also engage in a sporting activity in your free time or at least walk as much as possible. Special fitness exercises for the back and trunk muscles are an ideal preventive measure against back pain. I consciously do this (almost) every morning for 10 minutes and accordingly have no more problems with my back.
Reduce excess weight
The more weight our body has to carry, the faster back pain can occur. Excess weight should be reduced in a targeted manner, even if this seems difficult. Let a nutritionist help you here and do not go on diets, as these usually do not succeed. If you eat the approved food at the right time, you can achieve much more in the long run. With the reduction of excess weight, you will create more of a feeling of well-being and strengthen your health, which can increase your life expectancy. Your back will also thank you when it has to carry less weight around.
Since the solutions for back pain could be implemented relatively easily, they should be addressed with great priority. Often, you only have to do a little and the relief from back pain will be felt quickly. Most of the time, people only become aware when the pain is too great. But even here, the tips for back pain can be an efficient instant medicine. Although pain in the back is a reality for most people, today we know the different causes and can work for improvement. The mix of ergonomics, movement and drinking enough fluids is certainly one of the most effective keys to this.
If the topic of ergonomics in the office or home office appeals to you and you are interested in it further, my book “Wellness in the Office” provides even more tips and tricks. Combined with humorous drawings, I present 50+1 tips to make your office a little paradise.