Got lower back pain? You're note alone: According to the CDC, eight in 10 of us will be sidelined by a back injury at some point (and up to 58 percent are hurting right now!). For fast relief from lower back pain — and to prevent it altogether — doctors advise the following natural cures. Keep these easy lower back pain remedies handy and you'll be able start feeling better quickly.
Lower back pain remedies at home
Get out of bed slowly. Feeling lower back pain? Wiggle over to the edge of the bed, roll onto your side and hang your feet off the mattress, then slowly and gently push yourself upright, keeping your back as straight as possible. Do this daily, and your morning back pain could plunge 22 percent in one week, say Harvard researchers.
Get your Zs Being well rested cuts your odds of prolonged back pain 32 percent. Sleep is your body’s prime time for producing human growth hormone, which kickstarts tissue repair after an injury, explain Cornell researchers. Aim for at least seven hours of shuteye nightly. And try lying on your side with a firm pillow between your knees. Also, opt for a “medium-firm” mattress. Think hard mattresses are best for your back? Wrong! A Spanish study found that medium-firm mattresses provide the most relief from chronic back pain.
Soothe back pain with wintergreen oil. This essential oil is chock full of methyl salicylate, a compound that improves circulation, kick-starting healing of sore back muscles in as little as one week, Stanford University research shows. Mix a few drops into your favorite skin lotion and massage in twice daily.
Wear supportive shoes. One of the best bak pain remedies may involve a trip to the mall. Shoes with proper arch support steady your body’s center of gravity, easing strain on lower back muscles. Switching to shoes with supportive insoles (you should feel the firm, padded lining fitting snugly into the arch of your foot), cuts back woes for 81 percent of folks, a recent study found.
Recline for your spine’s sake. Adjusting your desk chair so you’re leaning back a tiny bit (instead of sitting up straight) reduces the pressure on your spinal nerves as much as 30 percent, say UCLA researchers. Your feet also should be flat on the floor.
Meditate to relieve lower back pain. Meditating for five minutes, three times a day, cuts back pain 30 percent or more in one month — and can drastically reduce your need for prescription and over-the-counter medication, reveals Emory University studies. The short time-outs lower your production of inflammation-triggering stress hormones and soothe your back’s pain nerves. To do: Sit back or lie comfortably and spend five minutes focusing on breathing slowly and deeply. Silently say the word “one” every time you exhale.
Use heat to relax your muscles. Applying heat (whether with a heating pad, warm bath or the like) for 20 minutes daily boosts blood flow to back tissues, cutting the risk of injuries in half, studies show.
Foods for lower back pain
Improve back pain by nourishing nerves with fish. One of the best foods for lower back pain? Fish. In fact, eating 18 ounces of fish weekly could make you feel more limber within three weeks. Studies show that fatty acids in fish (EPA and DHA) significantly reduce muscle cramping and nerve pain — in some cases, providing as much relief as prescription medications.
Heal back pain with green tea. Asian studies suggest that the more green tea you drink, the faster you'll recover from a bad back injury. The credit goes EGCG, an abundant and powerful antioxidant in green tea.
Stop stiffness with walnuts. Eating 1/2 cup of these magnesium-rich nuts daily can improve your flexibility by 20 percent — enough to cut pain and stiffness 28 percent in two weeks. (You can also apply magnesium topically on your skin with a magnesium oil spray.) Allergic to nuts, one of the very best foods for lower back pain? Eat cooked spinach or beans instead.
Lubricate discs with H2O. “Water is a building block of the lubricating fluid and shock-absorbing discs in your spine,” says Susan M. Kleiner, Ph.D., author of Power Eating. It also flushes out histamine — a pain-triggering compound produced by damaged tissues. Drink four 8-oz. glasses daily.
Vitamins for lower back pain
Keep cartilage strong with D. In addition to foods for lower back pain, vitamins can also help. A review of 22 back pain studies found that at least 90 percent of the sorest patients were deficient in vitamin D — and correcting their shortfalls with 2,000 IU daily eased their pain within weeks. (Always check with your doctor before starting a new supplement.)
Relax your muscles with magnesium. Taking 500 mg. of this essential mineral every day helps soothe back pain — and keep it from coming back — for as many as nine in 10 women, according to UCLA researchers. How does it work? “Magnesium calms the entire central nervous system, preventing tissue-damaging cortisol surges,” explains Alan Gaby, M.D., author of Nutritional Medicine. “Plus, the mineral relaxes painful muscle spasms and dampens inflammation, which helps to speed healing.” Important: Always check with your doctor before starting any supplement for the first time.
Tame tingling and pain with B-12. If you’ve got tingling or shooting pains in your back or down your legs, taking 1,000 mcg. To 2,000 mcg. of vitamin B-12 daily can help repair damaged nerves, soothing symptoms in as little as three months.
Lower back pain exercises that ease pain
Cut back pain 86 percent with exercises. Doing simple posture exercises known as the “Alexander Technique” to adjust how you sit, stand and move is a proven way to cut painful pressure on your spine and relax your back muscles. The result: as much as an 86 percent drop in pain and a 42 percent increase in your flexibility — which is key to preventing future back problems, reports the British Medical Journal. Check out a how-to book from your local library or find a qualified instructor in your area by logging on to Alexander Technique.com/teacher.
Take the pressure off. Soothe the strain of sitting for long periods by stretching once every hour: Stand with your heels and shoulders touching a wall. Tilt your pelvis so the small of your back presses against the wall. Hold for 30 seconds, then relax.
Try yoga for flexibility. In a recent study, almost 100 percent of folks who did yoga stretches for 20 minutes each day became more flexible and less injury-prone. The gentle form of exercise strengthens back muscles, plus relaxes tight ligaments and tendons. You can learn yoga moves in the comfort of your home by checking out a yoga DVD from your local library.
Avoid strain with leg strength. Always bend your knees when lifting, even if you’re picking up something relatively light, such as a bag of groceries, a new British study shows.
Hold heavier object close to your waist. If you have to move something really heavy, try pushing it across the floor instead of pulling it.
Rev circulation by walking. A recent review of 185 studies found that back-pain patients got just as much relief by walking 20 minutes daily as from pricey physical therapy sessions. And you don’t even have to break a sweat to benefit. Walking works by toning and relaxing muscles and increasing circulation, which nourishes hurt tissues. *Boost the benefit by . . . *sipping purple grape juice. A glass a day helps relax blood vessels, improving blood flow (often within three hours), reveals research at Columbus’ Ohio State University.
Herbs for back pain
Devil’s claw tames muscle spasms. A 2,000-mg. to 3,000-mg. daily dose eases painful back spasms for 75 percent of patients within one month.
Capsaicin relieves shooting nerve pain. Rubbing capsaicin cream onto your sore spots, four times daily, can dampen nerve pain in as little as two weeks.
Turmeric relieves achy joints. This spice is a powerful anti-in ammatory, and taking 300 mg. to 500 mg. in supplement form daily is shown to cut both back and joint pain as much as 73 percent in two weeks.