4. See a Specialist
Developing an individualized exercise plan is essential to managing chronic back pain, says D. Scott Davis, PT, MS, EdD, OCS, an orthopaedic physical therapist and associate professor at West Virginia University.
“There is no magic aspirin that addresses lower back pain in everyone,” Davis says. “Some patients need more core strengthening while others benefit mainly from stretching and improving flexibility. Find a physical therapist, exercise physiologist, or chiropractor who specializes in back care. They will match you with the right exercise plan.”
5. Strengthen Your Core
Most people with chronic back pain would benefit from stronger abdominal muscles.
“The torso is a combination of many muscle groups working together,” Frank B. Wyatt, EdD, professor of exercise physiology at Missouri Western State University, tells WebMD in an email. “If the abdominals are weak, other areas must pick up the slack. When we strengthen the abdominals, it often reduces the strain on the lower back.”
6. Improve Flexibility
Too much tension and tightness can cause back pain. "Our goal in increasing flexibility is to put an equal load throughout the body from the feet all the way up to the head,” Davis says. “One good exercise is to sit on the edge of the bed with one leg extended and the other one on the floor. Give your hamstrings a stretch by leaning forward while keeping your back in a neutral position.”
7. Ditch the Brace
It’s tempting to baby your back muscles, but Davis says braces should be used sparingly. “Braces are helpful for strenuous activities, like heavy lifting, but only keep them on for 15 minutes at a time,” he says. If you wear a brace all day, the muscles — which should be providing stability — weaken and you will have less core strength.
8. Apply Ice and Heat
Heating pads and cold packs can comfort tender trunks. Most doctors recommend using ice for the first 48 hours after an injury -- particularly if there is swelling — and then switching to heat.
But "it is difficult to say if ice or heat is more beneficial,” Flippin says. “I recommend that patients use whichever they find comforting as long as their skin is protected.”