Low Back Pain: What You Can Do
Listen to your body. If a certain movement or exercise causes pain, stop and pay attention. Discuss with your doctor or other health care professional what movements are safe for you to do. Here are a few reminders about what you can do to protect your back:
Rest, but not too much. In most cases, it's best to not stay in bed for more than a day or two after an acute injury. If you stay in bed longer than this, your muscles start to lose strength and their ability to support your back. Stay as active as you can, while continuing to listen to your body's signals.
Sit and stand safely. What are the positions you're in most of day? Whether at work or home, are you doing everything you can to protect your low back with good posture? You've heard it before, but it bears repeating: Good posture is critical. Sit or stand with your back aligned; imagine a line from your ears through your hips. Try to catch yourself when you're slouching.
Here are some other things to remember:
- Sit and drive as little as possible if back pain is acute. Avoid sitting on soft, low couches.
- Make sure your work surface is at a comfortable height for you.
- Use a chair with good lumbar support or use a pillow or rolled-up towel for support. Position your chair at the right height for your task. Rest your feet on a low stool.
- When getting up from a sitting position, scoot to the edge of your seat, get your feet directly underneath you, and stand. Avoid bending at the waist.
- When driving, make sure you've got good lumbar support. Position the seat so you maintain a curve in your low back and your hips are lower than your knees.
- When getting out of the car, support your back: Swing both legs out, don't twist. On long road trips, take regular breaks to walk around for a few minutes.
Lift and move safely. Change positions often. If you have a desk job, for example, be sure to get up, move around, and stretch every hour. Gently arch your back. Need a reminder to move? Set an alarm on your phone or computer. When doing activities like cleaning, weeding, or vacuuming, remember to keep the curve in your lower back as much as you can.