You’re no stranger to pain. From the twinge of a pulled muscle to the constant ache of a sore back, you’ve spent more than your fair share of time suffering. A nice massage with soothing essential oils could be your remedy of choice. But if you need more easy solutions you can do yourself, try one of these other five ways to send pain packing.
Put it on ice.
If you just hurt your back, grab an ice pack or bag of frozen vegetables. Apply for 10 to 20 minutes every two hours for the first 48 hours to relieve pain and swelling.
Turn up the heat.
After an injury, it’s best to wait 48 hours before going for the heating pad or a hot bath. On the other hand, heat is great any time for relaxing muscles if you have a persistent backache.
Position your pillow properly.
The way you sleep can make aches and pains worse, but the right pillow position could really change the game.
• For a backache, side sleepers should place a pillow between their bent knees to support the spine. If you sleep on your back, place the pillow under your knees.
• If you have pain that’s cramping your upper back, shoulders, and neck, make sure your pillow is soft enough to conform to the curve of your neck. And avoid pillows that are too high or too stiff.
Did you know your pillow can also help you fight other causes of nighttime discomfort? To control heartburn, use a wedge- shaped pillow to prop up your head and torso at least six inches. If you suffer from leg cramps, use an extra pillow to elevate your legs.
Plank it out.
A weak core puts your back in the injury danger zone. Do this exercise every day to strengthen your abdominal muscles and protect your back.
Important note — while the plank can minimize low back pain for many people, if you’ve suffered an injury, talk to your doctor or physical therapist before trying it.
• Get down on the floor, on your toes in the push-up position, with your hands shoulder-width apart
• Keep your arms straight and your body in one long line.
• Contract all your muscles and hold for about 20 to 30 seconds.
• Rest and repeat.
If your back pain comes from scoliosis, a sideways curving of the spine, this classic side plank can help.
• Lie on your left side with your legs extended.
• Push up and straighten your left arm so you are supported by your left hand.
• Extend your right arm straight up, using a wall for support if needed.
• Raise your hips so your body is in a straight line from shoulders to ankles.
• Contract your stomach and leg muscles.
• Hold the position as long as possible, working up to 90 seconds.
• Repeat on your right side.
Is this classic side plank too difficult? Try a modified version where you rest on one elbow and keep your legs and hips on the floor, lifting only your upper body. Planking is easier than sit-ups, and as a bonus, it can help you flatten a bulging belly.
Water helps support your weight, putting less strain on your joints while offering gentle resistance. This makes water workouts, also called hydrotherapy, great for people with bone loss, joint pain, and muscle strains. Again, ask your doctor what activities are safe for your type of back pain.