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Back Pain Relief - Ten Basic Tips

If you’re like millions of adults, you’re no stranger to occasional, or perhaps even chronic back pain. Unfortunately, many are finding that back pain and stiff joints are becoming more prevalent and painful with age. The good news is that you can do things that will usually improve these conditions.

Whether you’re trying to prevent upper or lower back pain or trying to allow an existing injury to heal, there are simple steps you can take today to prevent further injury and improve the overall health of your back.

Click on the categories (listed below) to open them up

1. Get a good night’s sleep.

While this sounds like an easy item to check off your list, many back pain sufferers find it hard to get a good night’s sleep because of their back pain. If this sounds like you, experiment with different sleeping positions, a firmer or softer pillow; maybe it’s time for a new mattress!

Because sleeping on your back or stomach can increase the curvature of your spine, the National Institute of Health recommends sleeping on your side on a firm surface. You may want to try sleeping with a pillow between your legs to take strain off your back. Why is sleep so important to back health? While you sleep, your body works hard to heal strained muscles and calm down joint inflammation.

2. Take the weight off.

If you needed yet another reason to shed those extra pounds and maintain a healthy weight, do it to make your back happy. Imagine carrying around dumbbells all day, every day – that’s exactly what you’re doing when your body’s a little too heavy.

Find the drive to drop the pounds and you might realize all the pills and treatments you’ve been using to combat your back pain are no longer needed.

3. Yoga, yes Yoga!

Millions of Americans practice yoga regularly, and for good reason – it can have incredible health benefits. According to a 2009 study in “Spine” Journal, yoga can reduce pain and improve function in people with chronic low back pain. Embarking on a yoga lifestyle can help reduce functional disability, improve mobility, diminish the overall intensity of your lower back pain, and not surprisingly, reduce depression so you feel overall happier with your life.

4. Vitamins & Natural Supplements

The American Medical Association now advises all adults take at least one multivitamin supplement daily. With our busy, fast food-laden lifestyles, it’s no surprise how common vitamin and mineral deficiencies can be.

Most multivitamins contain hearty doses of calcium, magnesium, and zinc, which are all frequently recommended by doctors to patients suffering from back pain. Additionally, glucosamine is vital to healthy joint performance and helps maintain cartilage to cushion bones. Omega-3 and flaxseed oils are also excellent natural remedies for joint support.

5. Experiment with Hot and Cold

While it doesn’t work for everyone, if you need immediate relief hot or cold therapy may help. Cold therapy (like an ice pack) may help with inflammation to reduce swelling. For cramps and muscle spasms, try a heating pad or a hot water bottle. Be careful with “dry” heat like heating pads, though; overuse can dehydrate your tissues and prevent your body from healing.

6. Water works.

Many physical therapists recommend aquatic therapy treatment for patients with chronic back pain. Exercising in warm water takes pressure and strain off of your muscles and joints, and helps strengthen muscles, improve flexibility, and release tension.

7. Get on your feet!

When pain strikes, sometimes it’s NOT best to just rest and wait it out. Sometimes resting can actually increase back pain, and over time will decrease your overall muscle strength. Try gentle stretching or go for a leisurely walk. Pick up the pace as your pain diminishes, and talk to your doctor about exercises that are best for your situation.

8. Try some bodywork.

A variety of different forms of bodywork are now affordable (often covered by insurance) and readily available. Bodywork can improve flexibility and coordination, create awareness of body movement, and release knots and built-up tension. Options range from chiropractic work and therapeutic massage to general physical therapy and osteopathy.

9. Eat the Rainbow

The typical American diet is wrought with fat, red meat, sugar, and processed foods – all of which increase inflammation (including inflaming the joints in your back) and lead to obesity which is also a major cause of back pain. Try to cut down on fast foods, soda, pasta, and processed snacks.

Bump up your intake of back-healthy foods like salmon and lean poultry, fresh fruits and vegetables, green tea, and old-fashioned oatmeal instead of sugary cereal. Add spices to your meals like garlic, ginger, and turmeric.

10. Take a deep breath.

Never underestimate the power of breathing. Take a moment to pay attention to your breaths – short, shallow breathing can inadvertently cause your shoulders to hunch over and squish your diaphragm. Practice taking long, deep breaths to naturally open your chest, straighten your spine, and allow you to feel more in touch with your body’s aches and pains.

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In case you missed it, we have condensed some useful basic information about different forms of back pain causes in our Back Basics page. This would be a good place to start for a general overview.

For even more in-depth research, for your convenience we have assembled some useful informational links in our Resources For Back Pain Relief page.

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