top of page
  • Writer's pictureChuck Johns


The human body is a well-oiled machine. Well, on most days, at least. It can be so well-oiled and properly-functioning that we can sometimes take it for granted, pushing it to its limits to extreme degrees before we stop to realize the body might be paying a physical price. This doesn't have to be action movie star stunt work either -- our usual predilections for avoiding downtime or rest because we "have to get this done" is an all-too-common cause for the body to be deprived of proper recuperation or recovery time. And before we know it, things will start to go wrong.

The often-underestimated role that the back plays in our everyday work, for example, only really becomes evident once back pain starts to set in. We grow up knowing that the back is where the spine is, and so the whole vertebral lattice structure is always in the back of our minds as a crucial body part to be protected. But our back muscles, from those around our shoulders to the lower back area, often go underappreciated and worked harder than necessary. Back pain then results, which can be tough to recover from and even harder to really get rid of.

While there are many medical and drug-based approaches to getting rid of back pain, those can be expensive and possibly risky. Besides, in some cases those might not be the best first step -- and so one should always clear such an approach with their doctor. While waiting for that to get settled, there are plenty of home remedies you can try for back pain.

1. Release your endorphins with exercise.

Pain happens in the body when parts that sustain some damage or strain signal the brain with cues that pain is being felt. Sometimes this can feel a bit redundant -- the mind already knows that pain is being felt, but the signals don't stop piling up -- and so tempering that response is desirable. Endorphins do that, just as well as many pain medications -- they block pain signals from clicking with the brain, and so alleviate pain in their own way. Endorphins also help the body combat the complicating factors of stress, anxiety, and depression, which can help stem the tide of back pain and keep it from feeling worse for you.

2. Improve your sleep cycle.

Something you might not be expecting is that a lack of sleep - sometimes caused by the back pain in a somewhat vicious cycle -- can make pain worse. While you're treating the back pain itself and keeping it from getting worse, it might be a good idea to get some treatment for sleep problems that often come with the chronic lower back pain.

Something simple you can do is to sleep on your side, as a pulled back muscle can feel worse if slept on. There is no one sleeping position that will work for everyone with such an ailment, but test it out to find out. It helps to avoid the fetal position, keeping your legs relaxed and keeping your body elongated to prevent pulling on the affected back muscle.

3. Exercise your core.

An important thing many take for granted in terms of back health is that the back muscles should really not be doing all the work. This is the logic behind the advice, "lift with your legs." Another essential part of the body that should be helping take the edge off the back is the core muscles. The muscles in your abs and back work together to give support to the lower spine, but these muscles need to be targeted with specific exercises. These can be as simple as sitting tall on an exercise ball for half an hour daily, which already engages the core muscles, to more demanding exercises like the trunk curl and exercise ball situps.

4. Use heat and cold to ease the pain.

While these may seem to be commonly verging on cliche, there's a reason -- they work. The use of cold packs and hot packs has always been very effective for helping the healing process along. Cold therapy brings the inflammation down and helps ease the pain by slowing nerve impulses. Heat therapy spurs blood flow, which increases the rate at which the affected vessels and muscles get oxygenated and healed. It actually also inhibits pain messages, easing the pain a fair bit as well.

5. Look for the positive.

The immediate instinct many will have for this specific tip is to dismiss it as quite touchy-feely or even hippy-dippy new age feelgood advice, but it makes perfect sense psychologically and physiologically speaking: ongoing chronic pain can affect your outlook badly by reducing the amount and quality of sleep you get, destroying your mood, and thus negatively impacting your relationships. That's all too valuable to lose, so consider finding ways to keep your outlook positive to whether the pain better -- look for three good things in each day, or specific plan to do three things that you like. These can be simple things like spending time with the kids, walking the dog, reconnecting with an old friend, and so on.



bottom of page