Is lower back arthritis getting you down? Do you feel like you’re not doing everything you can to manage your pain? Lower back arthritis can make some days more difficult than others, and taking more medication isn’t always an option. If you’re an active, busy person, these days can really take a toll on your livelihood, and you need a simple fix. Try these tips for managing your back pain, and get back to normal:
Improve your posture. This is vital! Take a moment to sit down and practice good posture to get relief from your symptoms. Even though sitting in a chair doesn’t seem helpful, the act of good posture actually strengthens muscles in your back and core that help support your spine. Sitting up helps your spine stay in line, and keeps you from exacerbating the pain by slouching; however, a stick-straight back won’t help, either, so don’t exaggerate it. You can easily adjust to the correct posture by raising the crown of your head towards the ceiling until your back is straight, then relaxing your shoulders and letting your arms rest comfortably. You’ll notice a huge difference, and your back will thank you!
Hot now, cold later. Those with arthritis know that a hot shower can revolutionize a high-pain day by relieving stiffness and inflammation (as well as lifting your spirits on a cold day). The next time you plan to head out for a morning jog or midday yoga, try applying heat to your lower back at least 20 minutes before your activity to prepare, then apply cold afterwards for any pain or soreness that creeps up. This will help you to both prepare for, and prevent, any arthritic pain caused by exercise, without going to extreme lengths or taking extra medication. You can even make your own hot/cold bag! Take an old (clean) gym sock, fill it with dry rice, then tie it off; simply throw it in the microwave for no more than 10 seconds at a time for heat, or pop it in the freezer for about 30 minutes for icy cold relief.
Get some rest! It’s hard to take some time for yourself, especially if you’re a busy person who likes to get out and about, and the thought of “resting for your health” might make you a little wary. Remember to stop for a rest to let your body recharge to avoid overdoing it, and don’t feel guilty about it! Just as getting regular exercise and staying active can ward off arthritic pain, so can resting periodically. Take an hour out of each day to simply rest; use the time to read, do a puzzle, or talk on the phone with a friend or your family as you kick your feet up and take a load off. Being sedentary for too long will aggravate arthritis, however, so it is important to balance your activity with your off-time to stay healthy and active. Your mind is just as important as your body, so take up an intellectual activity (such as Sudoku or rapid-fire trivia) to keep your wits sharp!
Get your heart pumpin‘. You might feel like your lower back arthritis makes it difficult to get active and exercise, but there are options for you. Stretching and light exercise actually work to improve the symptoms of lower back arthritis by increasing your flexibility, helping you lose weight, and strengthening your muscles. For example, take a daily walk around your neighborhood– practice good posture, walk gently, and don’t overdo it. This is an extremely low-impact and easy way to get exercise that almost anyone can do to relieve back pain and stay limber, while improving other aspects of their health as well. Other activities for those with lower back pain may include gentle water aerobics, light yoga, and even mini-golf!