When your lower back hurts, it’s hard to be at your best. From doing the dishes to playing your favorite sport, everything in your life is impacted by the nagging feeling of pain or discomfort.
If the concept of constant low back pain feels familiar, you’re not alone: 60 to 80% of U.S. adults likely experience lower back pain. With so many people suffering from soreness or shooting pains in the lumbar spine, it should be no surprise that there’s a long list of methods to try when your back is bugging you.
If you’re wondering how to help lower back pain, this handy guide is for you.
What Causes Low Back Pain?
Lower back pain has numerous causes, and can range from mild aches to intense and sometimes permanent pain.
In some cases, the pain can be related to sprains or strains from sports injuries, falls, or improper lifting at work. This pain is generally short-term; with time and care, you can likely return to a pain-free life.
However, sometimes back pain comes from a chronic condition. Common reasons for lasting lower back pain include:
- Arthritis – Osteoarthritis, a condition that causes the joints in the spine to swell, can lead to lingering feelings of stiffness and pain. Wear and tear on your body is typically a cause behind arthritis.
- Spinal disk issues – Your spine has small, cushion-like disks that rest between each vertebra in your spine. These disks can bulge or tear, potentially leading to pressure on your nerves. As you age, your disks can also compress. If they do, they make it easier for your vertebrae to rub painfully against one another.
- Problems with spinal structure – Conditions like spinal stenosis (a narrow spinal column) and scoliosis (a curved spine) can also contribute to lower back pain.
8 Ways to Address Your Lower Back Pain
Regardless of where your lower back pain comes from, you likely want to do everything you can to alleviate it. With that in mind, we’ve compiled this list of eight ways you can tend to your low back pain at home.
Note that most of these tips can also work as preventative care. Even if you’re pain-free or experiencing only an occasional twinge of lower back pain, you can try out some of these strategies to keep your lumbar spine in peak shape.
#1 Strengthen Your Back Muscles
Sometimes, when your back hurts, the last thing you want to do is exercise. However, studies have shown that physical activity can benefit people with chronic lower back pain.
Think about it this way: Your lower back muscles work to hold up your head, neck, upper back, and more. When those load-bearing muscles are weak, they struggle to carry the weight of your top half. By strengthening your muscles through crunches, wall sits, pilates, and other exercises, you offer more support for your spine.
Of course, if a healthcare professional advises you to rest (as is often the case for short-term injuries), be sure to comply. But if you experience ongoing lower back pain, you may benefit from strengthening your back.
#2 Try Some Yoga
For a low-impact approach to physical activity, you can experiment with yoga. For more than 5,000 years, people have been using yoga to increase flexibility, strength, and general well-being—all of which are fantastic for the lower back.
Some of the best poses for stretching and strengthening your lower back include:
The best part about yoga is its comprehensive approach to physical and mental well-being. While these poses target the lower back, they encourage full-body flexibility.
#3 Stretch Out Your Hips
Although it’s tempting to focus on the area that’s causing you pain, it’s essential to remember that everything in your body is connected. Sitting down for hours can cause your hip flexors to constrict and feel tight. When your hip flexors are tight, you’re more likely to experience pain in the lumbar spine.
For some simple hip stretches, you can try the following exercises:
You can also use a foam roller to ease some of the tension on your hips.
Most importantly, pay attention to your body. If you begin a stretch and feel any discomfort, take a break and try something different.
#4 Analyze the Way You Sit
If you’re reading this while seated, take a moment to examine your posture. Are you hunched forward? Is your neck tilted downward? Is your back supported? When your posture is less-than-perfect, you can experience back, neck, and shoulder pain.
Whenever you sit, especially for long periods, you should try to:
- Relax your shoulders
- Tuck your elbows in closer to your body
- Keep your legs uncrossed and your feet flat on the floor
- Ensure your back, thigh, and hips are fully supported
- Switch sitting positions regularly
- Stand up to walk or stretch at regular intervals
One way to make excellent posture a part of your everyday life is to invest in an ergonomic chair—especially if you work a desk job. Look for an office chair with full adjustability, a large, padded seat, and a backrest with lumbar support.
#5 Have a Comfortable, Restful Sleep
Sleep and lower back pain are connected in two ways.
First, there’s your sleep setup. If you find yourself waking up with worse back pain than when you went to bed, you may benefit from a change to your mattress, pillow, or both.
Old mattresses can compress over time, giving your lower back less support as you sleep. If you’ve had your mattress for more than eight years, it might be time for an upgrade. As for pillows, depending on how you sleep, you may want to invest in some new ones. Side sleepers should look for taller, firmer cushioning, while back sleepers require a medium-firm option.
Second, there’s the effect of sleep itself on your lower back. More specifically, studies have indicated that poor sleep can contribute to lower back pain. When you don’t get enough high-quality sleep, your back muscles don’t have enough time to rest. What’s more, a lack of sleep has also been associated with other factors that can cause lower back pain, including weight gain and stress.
With all this in mind, it’s worth examining your sleep habits to see how they impact your lower back.
#6 Use a Pain Relief Cream
Sometimes, your low back needs a little support from outside sources. That’s where topical pain relief solutions can come in handy.
For example, a CBD muscle cream may help soothe and relieve sore, tired muscles. Pain relief creams generally work by penetrating deep into the muscle tissue, targeting areas you typically can’t reach through other methods. Applying a pain relief cream three or four times a day may help to alleviate acute and chronic lower back pain.
For a more natural approach to easing soreness and stiffness, look for creams or cooling roll-ons that include ingredients like menthol and camphor that can potentially alleviate discomfort.
#7 Assess Your Weight
Over the years, weight gain has been linked to lower back pain. When excess weight accumulates—especially in the stomach area—your lower back has to work harder to compensate.
To that end, you may be able to ease the strain on your low back by attaining a healthy weight. There are several ways to work toward an ideal weight, including:
- Eating a healthier diet
- Drinking more water
- Controlling portion sizes
- Working with a dietitian or nutritionist
#8 Apply Heat, Ice, or Both
Many people find that heat, ice, or a rotating schedule of both can ease lower back pain.
A hot bath—complete with some optional CBD bath salts—can help those tight muscles loosen up. If you prefer to stay dry, you can warm up a hot compress or heating pad and apply it to your low back.
If you notice swelling, you may want to try icing the problem area instead. Avoid applying ice directly to your skin. Instead, wrap any ice packs in a cloth or napkin first.
When Should You Seek Treatment?
Although there are countless ways to alleviate lower back pain at home, these methods may not work for everyone—especially if there’s an underlying issue causing your back pain.
You may want to seek medical help for your lower back pain if:
- It lasts longer than a few weeks
- It spreads down to your legs
- It leads to bladder or bowel issues
- It brings on a fever
From there, your doctor may refer you to a physical therapist (PT), massage therapist, acupuncturist, or, in rare cases, a surgeon. By combining professional support with some of the tips listed above, you can work to relieve lower back pain once and for all.
Take Good Care of Your Lower Back
Because you (literally) put your back into almost everything you do, it’s essential to take care of it. The lower back may be prone to pain or discomfort, but there are steps you can take at home to keep the hurt at bay.
For natural, fast-acting pain relief that’s easy to administer, try ProVault. Thanks to menthol and camphor with added CBD, our muscle salve, muscle cream and cooling roll-on have the potential to help support your aching muscles. Apply them to your lower back—or anywhere else that needs rapid pain relief—and you can start feeling your best once again. When it comes to discomfort, it’s important to get relief fast. Whether you’re wondering how to relieve arm pain or are looking to find out how to relieve neck pain, we’ve got you covered so you can keep doing what you love—whatever that may be.
National Center for Biotechnology Information. A Systematic Review of the Effects of Exercise and Physical Activity on Non-Specific Chronic Low Back Pain. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4934575
Google Arts & Culture. Explore The Ancient Roots of Yoga.https://artsandculture.google.com/story/explore-the-ancient-roots-of-yoga/rAKCRDl92CPuJg
National Center for Biotechnology Information. The Influence of Stretching the Hip Flexor Muscles on Performance Parameters. A Systematic Review with Meta-Analysis. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7922112/
MedlinePlus. Guide to Good Posture. https://medlineplus.gov/guidetogoodposture.html
National Center for Biotechnology Information. Poor Sleep Is a Risk Factor for Low-Back Pain among Healthcare Workers: Prospective Cohort Study. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7036951/
National Center for Biotechnology Information. Obesity as a Risk Factor for Low Back Pain: A Meta-Analysis. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27875413/