Tips & Techniques

Quick Back Pain Tips

Denise Smith 
March 15, 2024

Making Spring 2024 the season of no back pain is a great goal.  The most long-term strategy for addressing back pain is to consult your favorite physical therapist and figure out WHY you are having pain.  Adding strengthening, mobility work, and soft tissue care is a great way to fix the back pain versus other band-aid approaches.  So while you work on hard part of managing back pain, we wanted to give you some quick tips to help manage in the short-term.

Here are 10 quick tips to help manage your back pain:

1) Take exercise "snacks" during prolonged sitting while at work (snacks are about 5-10 minutes and can be done while on a conference call).  These snacks can be something like squats or walking around your office or down the hall.  You can do heel raises, balance on one leg, or do leg raises out to the side.  

2) Sit on an exercise ball while doing computer work.  This helps decompress your spine.  Moving your hips side-to-side or front-to-back can help loosen up your low back muscles 

3) While sitting in a chair, bend forward to try to touch the floor.  This is a great back stretch.

4) If you have to stand for a long time (like when washing dishes, prepping dinner, or working at a tall table), prop one foot up on a small stool or rest it on the inside of a cabinet. After a few minutes, switch legs. This helps take pressure off your back and legs.

5) Sleep with a pillow between your legs.  Keeping your spine and pelvis in a neutral and supported position can help relieve tension.

6) If your back pain is worse in the morning, try stretching before you get out of bed.  Some easy options are to stretch your hamstrings (pulling one leg towards you), buttock (keep one leg straight while you twist the opposite leg over the straight leg), inner thighs (do a butterfly stretch while laying flat), and low back (lay on your stomach with your pelvis flat then prop yourself up on your elbows).

7) Use a heating pad before you stretch to warm the muscles up so they do not feel so stiff as you begin to stretch.

8) If you are working out first thing in the morning, make sure your low back and hip muscles are warmed up before you start working out.  This can be done by running up and down the stairs a few times, doing some squats while brushing your teeth, or doing some dynamic stretches.  Give yourself about 8 minutes of a warm-up before working out.

9) Make sure you are drinking enough water.  Dehydration can make muscle and joint pain worse, cause muscle cramps, increase your risk of an injury, and slow recovery after a workout. 

10) This one is not a quick fix but is an important tip: If you are having back pain with any, some or all of the following symptoms, see a pelvic health specialist: incontinence (peeing your pants with activities such as jumping or running), pain with intercourse, or challenges with bowel movements (excessive wiping, constipation).  Many times, pelvic floor problems can be the driver of low back pain.  

Meet the Author
Denise Smith graduated from Marquette University in 2002 with a Master’s Degree in Physical Therapy and has been a certified running technique specialist since 2014. She is a consultant for multiple local middle and high schools and instructs courses in Kinesiology at McHenry County College. Denise also travels the country as part of the Pose Method education team with a lecture series on injury prevention and treatment along with the running technique certification course.
You were made to move!