10 Ways To Improve Back Pain and Stiffness

10 Ways to Improve Back Pain and Stiffness… without taking painkillers or having to see the doctor.



  1. Limit Bed Rest – studies have shown that people who have short-term low back pain should move around as best as they can and try to resume their normal activities as soon as possible. People with low back pain should not remain in bed, since all this does is to create more weakness and stiffness in your body.  Most doctors agree that patients should avoid more than 3 days of bed rest.


  1. Maintain Good Posture – your back pain may have started after lifting something heavy or by bending forward, but the strain that caused it has probably been building up for years. Most people have poor posture while performing their daily activities, putting unnecessary strain on their backs.


  1. Get Rid of the Back Brace – It’s tempting to baby your back muscles and wear a back brace.  But a brace should only be used for less than 15 minutes at a time and only for HEAVY lifting.  The back brace provides stability around your core muscles, and if you wear a brace all day, those core muscles will weaken and you will have less core strength overall.


  1. Sleep the Right Way – sleeping in a bad position, or on a bad mattress without support can cause low back pain.


Some pointers:

  • Back sleepers can put pillows under their knees
  • Side sleepers should put a pillow between their knees to keep their spine in neutral alignment
  • Stomach sleeping causes the neck and back to twist putting undue stress on the back



  1. Quit Smoking – A study published recently in the American Journal of Medicine found that current and former smokers are more likely to have back pain compared to people who have never smoked. Nicotine causes the small blood vessels to constrict and decreases the delivery of blood vessels to the soft tissue.  Blood carries the oxygen and nutrients that our muscles and tissues need to function properly.


  1. Try Talk Therapy – Back pain often coincides with both depression and anxiety. In fact, body aches (backaches) are a common symptom of depression and research has shown that people with severe depression actually feel pain more intensely than others.


  1. Apply Ice or Heat – Both of these can be very comforting for a sore back. A general rule of thumb is using ice for the first 48 hours after an injury (especially if there is swelling) and then switching to heat.  It is difficult to say which would be more beneficial, we recommend that patients use whichever is more comfortable as long as the skin is protected.


  1. Use Relaxation Techniques – Research shows that practices such as meditation, deep breathing, tai chi, and yoga, which help put the mind at rest, can do wonders for the back.


  1. Lose some weight – Extra weight means extra stress on your body. If you carry excess fat in your belly region, the strain on your back is likely to be worse.  Take steps to lose excess weight. For most people, that means exercising more and cutting calories from your diet.  Your physical therapist can help prescribe a safe and effective program for you.


  1. Try Physical Therapy! – Going to a physical therapist may just be what you need, especially if all other options have failed. A physical therapist is a health care professional trained in the treatment of musculoskeletal disorders (back pain).  A physical therapist will conduct a one on one evaluation to determine the reason for your pain, and then design a program to alleviate your condition.

While this is not a comprehensive list of treatment ideas to get rid of back pain, it’s a good place to start.  Back pain is a significant problem in the United States.  Some studies estimate that 80% of the population will at some point in their lives experience back pain.  Back pain is also a costly problem, it has been estimated that lost work days because of back pain cost almost $13 billion dollars.  It is important for individuals to participate in their own medical care and not suffer needlessly with back pain.  If you haven’t tried physical therapy for your back pain yet, please call us at Fortaleza at 215-427-2242, or visit us at www.lafortalezarehab.com.  We have 3 convenient locations to serve you.