Back pain is a debilitating condition that can significantly affect your quality of life and make even the simplest tasks difficult to achieve. Whether it’s from physical activity, an injury, or a medical condition, there are many different factors that could result in back pain, but whatever the reason back pain can be difficult to deal with.
Before you consider pain medications that can have significant side effects or even surgery there are natural remedies and therapeutic treatments for back pain available to you that can help. Many of these you can even try from the comfort of your home. Let’s take a look at some of the natural remedies that can help deal with acute and chronic back pain and get you back in the game.
Back Pain Among Veterans and Military Personnel
While back pain is very common among the general population, it is a particular concern among veterans and military personnel. The ongoing activity of lifting heavy loads, combat exercises, running and jumping that come with serving in the military can put tremendous stress on the joints and spine, resulting in many experiencing chronic and lower back pain. In fact, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, spine impairment is one of the leading causes of disability among veterans and those numbers are on the rise. This was further supported by a 2011 study that found that active duty military service members are at high risk of experiencing lower back pain. Further, those who experience unspecified lower back pain during military service may be more likely to have back problems later in life.
Additionally, the VA lists chronic back pain as one of the top five conditions they treat through complementary therapies (others include anxiety, post traumatic stress, depression and stress management). Fortunately, early intervention and engaging in the below natural treatments as soon as possible can help alleviate the pain commonly experienced by our nation’s heroes.
Staying Active and Exercising
While it might sound counter-intuitive to you but remaining active is often recommended to help deal with acute and chronic low back pain. Although it can be difficult when you are in pain, in many cases this is the first thing your doctor will recommend.
Regular exercise can loosen tight muscles and cause the brain to release endorphins (our body’s natural painkillers) which help reduce pain. On the other hand, staying inactive for too long or sitting for pronged periods of time can weaken the muscles in the back leading to more pain.
Exercises that are low impact and average intensity like taking a brisk walk or exercising in water are ideal and try to avoid movements like squatting and jumping that could make your back worse. It’s also a good idea to ask your doctor before engaging in any heavier activity that might further strain your back such as weight lifting. Remember to stretch after your workout as well.
Practicing Yoga and Tai Chi
Exercises that improve flexibility and strengthen your body can help support your back which can help relieve or even prevent back pain. Try to find exercises that focus on strengthening your core. Two examples of these types of exercises include Yoga and Tai Chi.
There are a number of benefits that come from practicing yoga. Not only does it have the potential to reduce stress levels but according to research, it can be used as a potential treatment for chronic lower back pain. It has also been shown to improve the health of muscles, blood circulation of healing nutrients as well as flexibility of the spine.
Yoga positions like downward dog can help stretch your back and reduce pressure that can build up and cause pain in your spine. Other positions can also help stretch the hips which can become tight and lead to back pain. If you are just starting out, begin slowly and add more stretches as you feel comfortable and it doesn’t hurt.
Tai Chi is an ancient practice that combines deep breathing and meditation with sequential slow and relaxed movements. According to a 2019 study, Tai Chi along with routine physical therapy might decrease pain and improve function for patients with lower back pain. It is important to note however, the study concluded that further trials into this treatment are needed.
Stretching Your Back Muscles
In addition to core-focused exercises, regularly stretching can do wonders for back pain. If you are a beginner and not sure where to start, there is a large resource of great instructional videos online that you could try and work into your routine. Some of the more common back stretches and positions that you can look for can include:
Touching your toes
Knee to chest stretch
Back flexion stretch
Kneeling lunge stretch
Piriformis muscle stretch
Trunk rotation stretch
Pelvic tilt exercise
Seat forward bend stretches
The supported bridge stretch
Belly flop exercise
Seated spinal twist
Additional Tip: In addition to stretching your back, remember to also stretch your hamstrings. People often forget the role the hamstrings can play in strengthening the back and reducing pain. When the hamstrings are too tight it puts added stress on the lower back and joints which can cause even more pain.
Focusing on Good Posture
Working to improve your posture can also put less stress on your back. Poor posture is especially common among those who work at a desk or in front of a computer all day. Try to keep your back and head straight and avoid slouching. Pay attention to your posture and adjust your neck, shoulders and back to prevent added stress on your spine. There are also a number of tools available to help keep your spine aligned.
While you are at work you can use ergonomics to help reduce pain and improve your posture. In fact, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, “Ergonomics helps lessen muscle fatigue, increases productivity and reduces the number and severity of work-related MSDs (Musculoskeletal Disorders)”. You should also make sure the chair you are using is the right height for you and keep the screen you are using at eye level. A standing desk can be helpful throughout the work day as well.
Healthy Lifestyle and Proper Diet
Being overweight can put a tremendous strain on your body, especially your back. The excess weight in the front of the body can increase the arch in the spine and result in further pain. Incorporating a healthy lifestyle and diet can help lessen the load and relieve some of the pressure on your spine.
Applying Heat and Ice
Deciding whether cold or warm temperatures is best for you can vary depending on what is bothering you but both are considered effective approaches in treating acute lower back pain. For example, if you are trying to relax tight muscles, you might want to consider applying heat but if your pain is from inflammation, colder temperatures might be effective. If you don’t have an ice pack or prefer not to use one you can try cold water therapy.
While largely considered more of a complementary treatment, studies have also supported the use of acupuncture to help lower and chronic back pain. Experts are still unsure as to how acupuncture regulates pain but the thought behind this treatment is that back pain can be caused by blocked energy throughout the body which can be unblocked through the use of acupuncture needles.
Understanding The Mind-Body Connection
The way our brain process pain plays an important role in how we perceive pain. As such, it makes sense that incorporating mind-body interventions can be a potential means of alleviating some of the back pain you experience. Two strategies that incorporate these types of mind-body techniques include cognitive behavioral therapy and mindfulness meditation.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a psychological therapy that works to identify and reduce negative thoughts. While you might not expect it, these types of thoughts can have an impact on your physical well being. Through CBT, patients gain the ability to assess their pain more realistically and gain the tools to cope with it more effectively. According to Annals of Internal Medicine, there is some evidence that CBT and other combined psychological therapies have been associated with moderate pain relief.
Because recovery for back pain can be dependent on a number of physical and psychological factors, mind-body stress reduction techniques like meditation and mindfulness can also be helpful. According to one study, MBSR or Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction was effective in reducing pain severity and improving quality of life in female patients with nonspecific chronic lower back pain.
The Alexander Technique
The Alexander Technique is another form of therapy showing promise in the treatment of back pain. During this type of therapy, individuals are taught how to improve posture and avoid habits that often result in back pain and decreased mobility. According to The International Journal of Clinical Practice (IJCP), there is strong evidence that the Alexander Technique can effectively lessen chronic back pain. The study also went on to note that while more evidence is needed, this technique may also improve issues such as:
balance skills in the elderly
general chronic pain
The WIM Hof Method
The WIM Hof method is another approach to naturally help reduce inflammation and alleviate pain that has grown in popularity. Through combining breathing techniques, meditation, and cold exposure therapy the WIM Hof method comes with a range of physical and mental health benefits including helping deal with symptoms commonly associated with back pain such as inflammation, anxiety, and others.
Giving Up Tobacco
You might be surprised to hear that tobacco can contribute to back pain. Nicotine can actually deplete the body of the nutrients that cushion joints and can weaken your spine.
Using CBD Oil For Back Pain
CBD oil has become increasingly popular as a natural means to relieve anxiety and manage pain. While there haven’t been many studies into CBD as a treatment for back pain specifically, it has continued to show promising results in dealing with pain related issues such as:
There is also growing evidence of the potential of CBD for treating chronic pain in the body. In fact, according to a 2020 study, the transdermal application of CBD oil may play a significant role in reducing pain. This supported the findings of a previous study that found that patients who were given CBD experienced a reduction in chronic pain, improvement in sleep quality, and better quality of life.
If you are interested in getting started with CBD and seeing how it might help relieve your back pain, Easy Day Hemp has a wide variety of premium products to choose from. From CBD topicals that offer quicker results to CBD oils and gels that offer a long lasting experience, there are plenty of options to browse through depending on your preferences.
Additional Natural Remedies for Back Pain
In addition to the above, there are other strategies you can try to naturally relieve your back pain. Some of these methods can include:
Wearing shoes that fit and offer necessary support
Other stress relieving techniques like deep breathing exercises and guided meditation
Anti-inflammatory foods and drinks
Making sure you get a good night’s sleep
Trying massage therapy
Medicated creams and patches
You can also ask your doctor about natural supplements like Vitamin D or Magnesium as well as over the counter anti-inflammatory medications.
In many cases, inflammation can be a major cause of back pain. If you would like to learn more about the different techniques for fighting inflammation without the use of prescription medications; we highly suggest reading this in-depth guide we put together on ‘Natural Remedies For Inflammation’.
There is no one size fits all solution to naturally relieve back pain. You might have to experiment with several of these strategies to find what works best for you.
If you are looking for another great resource for naturally mitigating back pain we would also recommend checking out Joe Hippensteel and UHP (Ultimate Human Performance). UHP teaches a range of different techniques and methods for eliminating pain and injury for conditions at every level. From average lifestyles to Navy SEALs and elite athletes; UHP can be a valuable tool in relieving back pain and improving performance.
Getting Back On Your Feet
If you’re back pain continues despite making these changes or you are in a lot of pain you should visit a doctor or healthcare professional. They can help provide a diagnosis and treatment recommendations. They may also refer you to a physical therapist who can help you throughout the process.
You should also consult with your doctor before treating your back pain with CBD or any other supplement; particularly if you are already taking other medications.
As a former U.S. Navy SEAL and CIA Contractor, I know from personal experience how debilitating back pain can be but I have also seen first hand the amazing healing potential of natural remedies to get you back on your feet. I also know the damage that traditional pain medications can have on the body and the need for a better solution. That’s why at Easy Day Hemp, I’ve made it our mission to spread the knowledge and benefits of natural solutions that can improve the quality of life to all of those in need.