Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

22 Home Remedies for Back Pain

More Home Remedies for Back Pain
©2007 Publications International, Ltd. Many experts agree that swimming is the best aerobic exercise for a bad back.

Many of the activities you engage in each day, such as sitting, lifting, bending, and carrying, can put a strain on your back. By learning new ways of going about these activities, you can help prevent back pain and ensure the health of your back for years to come. Try the following home remedies to keep back pain at bay.

Use a cushion. Most seats in cars and trucks are not designed to support the small of your back, although some these days do provide adjustable lumbar support at least for the driver. If the seat in your vehicle doesn't, buy a small cushion that can be fitted to provide the missing support. Despite what your mother told you about sitting up straight, leaning back at an angle of about 110 degrees is ideal for the back. If you sit for long hours, get up and walk around periodically to increase blood flow and decrease stiffness.

Put your arm behind your back. If you get stuck sitting for a long period in a seat that doesn't support your lower back and you don't have a cushion, try rolling up a towel or sweater so that it has about the same circumference as your forearm. Then slide the rolled up cloth between your lower back and the back of the seat. In a pinch, you can simply slide your forearm between your lower back and the seat back to ease the strain on your back. Even with the best back support, however, sitting is still stressful on your back, so try to at least make small adjustments in the curvature of your lower back every few minutes or so.

Swim. Many experts agree that swimming is the best aerobic exercise for a bad back. Doing laps in the pool can help tone and strengthen the muscles of the back and abdomen, which help support the spine, while buoyancy temporarily relieves them of the job of holding up your weight. Walking is the next best choice.

Lift with your knees bent. The large muscles of your legs and buttocks are better equipped to bear heavy weight than your back muscles are. To be sure you're lifting properly, imagine you're balancing a bowl of soup on your head, trying not to spill a single drop: Keep your back straight and bend only your knees, rather than bending at the waist, as you squat to pick something up. Then, as you rise, concentrate on using your leg muscles to push your upper body and the object back up into a standing position, again without bending at the waist. Strengthening your leg and buttocks muscles will make it even easier to squat and lift properly, whether you're picking up a pen, a bag of groceries, or a small child.

Carry objects close to your body. When picking up and carrying heavy objects, pull in your elbows and hold the object close to your body. When reaching for a bulky item on a shelf, stand beneath it and rest the object on your head. That way your erect spine carries the weight, placing less burden on your back muscles.

Stay alert. Careless activity is the number-one cause of back injury, so beware if you have struggled with back pain in the past. As much as possible, avoid bending, twisting, and lifting. Make a mental note of situations that have led to back injuries in the past, and do your best to avoid them. That may mean paying someone to do your lawn work or move furniture for you, but shelling out a few dollars today could keep you pain-free and on the job tomorrow.

Watch your weight. Maintaining a healthy body weight (ask your doctor if you're not sure what that is) may help take the strain off the back muscles by lightening their load. What's more, having a flabby midsection may cause you to become sway-backed, which can worsen back pain.

When it comes to back pain, you need all the relief you can get. Read on to learn how items found in your kitchen can save your aching back.

For more information on preventing and relieving back discomfort, try the following links:

  • To see all of our home remedies and the conditions they treat, go to our main Home Remedies page. This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.
  • For additional tips on warding off a sore back, see How to Prevent Back Pain.
  • How to Relieve Back Pain offers several ways to alleviate painful back symptoms.
  • If your pain involves the muscles of the back, read Home Remedies for Muscle Pain.