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Maybe you overdid it shoveling snow last
week. Or perhaps you carried one too
many boxes to the attic. Whatever the
cause, your lower back has been stiff and
sore for days. If you can still get around
normally with only minor discomfort,
there are a few things you can try at
home for relief.
“You might think the best thing to do is
“baby” your back until it feels better.
But resting isn’t necessarily the best remedy,” says Georgia
Griffin, D.O., neuromusculoskeletal specialist at McLaren
Medical Center–Macomb.
“You don’t want to just lie around – that will slow your
recovery time,” says Dr. Griffin. “Try some low-impact
activities like walking or swimming. Avoid strenuous activity
that involves bending or twisting, but remain as active as
the pain will allow.”
If you’re tempted to pick up a heating pad, grab an ice pack
instead. “Heat provides comfort on the skin, but the tissues
underneath can become swollen,” she says. “Instead, apply
an ice pack to the area for five to 10 minutes every half-
“An over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication such as
Advil® or Aleve® can also help. But use it with caution,”
Dr. Griffin says.
“If you’re taking a blood-thinning medication, have stomach
issues or a history of ulcers, an anti-inflammatory can cause
increased swelling,” she says. “It’s best to ask your doctor
Dr. Griffin adds that you should see a doctor if your pain
lasts for more than four weeks or becomes worse.
“Persistent pain may mean that something more serious is
going on,” she says. “Many people have degenerative
arthritis, which can be treated.”
LiveWell: Health
Self-Care for Sore Backs
“When we’re young, our bodies have a certain tolerance for
poor posture,” Dr. Griffin says. “As we age, our body is less
able to compensate. Stretch regularly to stay flexible.”
“Prevention is really the best medicine for maintaining a
healthy back. You don’t necessarily have to go to a gym.
Start walking regularly. Buy a fun exercise video. Find an
activity that works for you so it becomes a habit. Your back
will thank you for it.”
Need more help? To create a personalized plan to manage
back pain and regain control over your daily activities, log in
. Then visit the
My Health & Wellness
tab and
click on the
icon and select
Manage my back pain
Georgia Griffin,
For long-term lower-back maintenance, it’s
important to remain flexible, maintain muscle
strength and be mindful of your posture.