It’s prime time for being outdoors and fun road trips. The downside? Up to 55 percent of us have achy backs thanks to that sudden uptick in activity, plus hours spent cooped up on long drives. Luckily, there’s no need for NSAIDs, with their side effects like indigestion, dizziness, and headaches. These natural strategies erase back pain fast.
Try a “pineapple pill.”
Pineapple cores are nature’s top source of bromelain, a compound that tames pain if taken on an empty stomach so it can soak into your bloodstream. In fact, a study in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine suggests 500 milligrams of bromelain daily cuts aches by up to 80 percent — results comparable to NSAIDs — and shaves four days off your recovery time. Study co-author Rick Middleton, PhD says it reduces production of soreness-causing compounds.
Treat your feet.
Rubbing your tootsies calms pain receptors in the brain, a study in Applied Nursing Research found. Place your finger between your big toe and second toe. Slide it back 1.5 inches across the top of your foot and firmly massage here until your backache subsides.
Sip this smoothie.
Sneaking a cup of mild, tender baby spinach into a fruit smoothie daily cuts your risk of summer back pain by 50 percent, plus helps you bounce back three days faster if you’re already achy, say Northwestern University researchers. Carotenoids in spinach help dial down pain and inflammation more effectively than aspirin and ibuprofen do.
Swivel your hips.
Two minutes of stretching each hour calms back pain by up to 58 percent and cuts the risk of future injuries in half, research in Healthcare suggests. Study coauthor Rebecca Gordon, PhD says stretching keeps muscles flexible so they’re less likely to spasm. To do: Stand with your hands on your waist; rotate your hips in large, slow circles.
Say yes to rest.
Taking 30 minutes daily to truly unwind makes even chronic back pain plunge by 50 percent in one week. Why? Utah State University researchers report that daily R&R curbs the production of the pain-triggering stress hormone cortisol by 35 percent.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.