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Laura Ellerbe, Licensed Massage Therapist

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5 Ways to Help Manage Lower Back Pain

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Whatever the cause of lower back pain, there are a variety of ways to help manage the pain and discomfort. Low back pain is often caused by lifting something heavy, bending the wrong way, or by week core muscles. Here are a few options to do at home to ease the discomfort and pain. 

Ice or Heat

Clients often ask if they should use ice or heat to treat their injuries. The general rule of thumb is in the first 24-48 hours to use ice. Ice helps with inflammation and accelerates the healing process. Try to avoid using heat at this point, as heat can increase inflammation this close to the onset of the injury. After the first 48 hours, heat or a combination of heat and cold (contrast therapy) can be used to relax your sore muscles. When using ice, it's important not to use more than 20 minutes.

Keep Moving

Movement helps keep the body healthy, including times of injury. So, continue with your day-to-day activities and keep the body moving. If your regular routine is too painful, exercise in the pool.

Stay Strong

Strengthening the muscles of the low back and of your core will help avert future injuries and flare-ups from reoccurring. Making these muscles stronger have the added benefit of helping your posture and encouraging proper alignment of your spine. Having strong abdominal, pelvic, and hip muscles will also help to support your back.

Think Ergonomically

Create a work space that is designed ergonomically, to avoid  sitting hunched over to use the computer or stretching to use the mouse. Your chair should ideally give you enough support for your lower back area, while allowing your feet to comfortably reach the floor. Otherwise, you are putting a lot of unnecessary strain on your back. Be sure to get up every now and then to stretch and to avoid staying in a slumped position for extended periods of time. Also, if you feel particularly stiff or sore after a day of work, incorporate regular stretching or yoga routines to ease your back pain.


It's probably no surprise that I'll recommend not smoking, as it's well known that smoking can cause a long list of health related issues, including the risk of osteoporosis. By increasing the risk of osteoporosis, you are also increasing the risk of compression fractures in the spine. Non-smokers are less likely to have low back pain, compared to regular smokers.



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