Almost all of us have been sidelined with troublesome back pain at some point — you may even be a little stiff and sore right now! To sidestep the risk of back pain and get speedy relief if you’re already achy, try one (or more) of these proven, simple tips.
Soak in the tub.
Relaxing in a hot bath — or curling up with a heating pad — for 20 minutes daily provides 33 percent faster relief than any other remedy, including pain meds, Norwegian researchers report. More good news: Even when your back is feeling fine, just warming it up four times weekly could cut your risk of future pain flares by as much as 45 percent. That’s because heat boosts blood flow to sore muscles, which relaxes them, promotes healing and flushes out pain-triggering inflammation.
Stretch for 2 minutes.
Pause two minutes each hour to gently arch your back while breathing deeply, and you could cut your risk of back pain by as much as 67 percent, plus heal 50 percent faster if you’re stiff right now. Explains Christine Wiebking, PhD, stretching and deep breathing reduce the production of stress hormones that tighten muscles and irritate pain nerves.
Support your spine.
Good posture prevents strain on your spine’s delicate vertebrae, cutting your risk of chronic back pain by 70 percent. Pain specialist Lei Yang, MD, adds that good sitting posture is especially important because most of us spend hours in chairs every day. Support your spine by tucking a rolled-up towel between your lower back and your seat back.
Try an alternative to NSAIDs.
Taking 2,000 mg. of omega-3s daily can tamp down back pain as effectively as NSAIDs — plus help prevent pain flares for 67 percent of folks. One to try: Life Extension Super Omega-3 ($24.75, LEF.com/ww). Note: Check with your doctor before supplementing.
Enjoy a delicious fix.
Juicy peaches can cut chronic backaches by 46 percent and reduce your risk of flares by 50 percent, say British researchers. That’s because a compound in peaches (beta-cryptoxanthin) calms pain nerves and speeds the healing of worn and damaged cartilage.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine.
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