Easy Remedies for Back Pain, As Recommended by a Physical Therapist

Easy Remedies for Back Pain, As Recommended by a Physical Therapist

Back pain: the culprit behind so many sleepless nights, uncomfortable travels, and general aches, discomfort, and soreness. Back pain is so prevalent in our global society, that 80% of adults report experiencing it in their lifetimes, and 8% of us deal with chronic back pain.

While anti-inflammatory medications, trips to the doctor, and remedies like acupuncture and massage help tremendously, we often seek easy, no-fuss solutions that can be performed in our own home.

Physical therapist and board certified sports specialist Dr. Wendy Noakes, co-founder of Get Fitt.ed, walks us through the best at-home back pain remedies and preventative measures that’ll help you and your back find some relief.

1. Ice and heat

For acute pain, meaning newly injured or recent onset of pain, the traditional ice or heat may do the trick.

Ice is often more effective for pain that comes on suddenly and at a very specific moment in time. For example, when you bend over to pick up a piece of paper and you feel your “back give out.”

Heat on the other hand, is often more effective for pain that seems to gradually worsen with no specific mechanism of injury. Heat is a great tool to help relax muscles and tissues that may have tightened up due to the pain.

2. Rest

Adjust your workout

Pain is a signal from your brain to tell you to stop doing something that could potentially be dangerous. However, rest does not mean lying in bed all day until the pain goes away. Listen to that pain signal and avoid any movements that hurt, but continue doing as much as you can.

Sleep eight hours

Sleep is a time for your body to heal and recover. Studies have also shown that a decrease in sleep decreases your tolerance to pain, so you perceive your pain as much worse than it is.

3. Adjust your workstation

Poor ergonomics, especially at a computer, make maintaining a good posture very difficult. A proper set up such as having your screen at eye level will entice your body to sit up straight and avoid slouching. A chair that allows your feet to touch the ground will set the foundation for optimal body alignment and unload significant weight from your low back.

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4. Exercise, stretch, and move

It’s easy to tell you to move, but sometimes it could feel like everything hurts! This is where a physical therapist can help you find movements that can speed up the recovery. Below are examples of some simple exercises that are relatively easy and safe to try:

Hook lying lumbar rotation

Begin lying on your back with your knees bent and feet resting on the floor. Keeping your back flat, and making sure that your back and shoulders stay in contact with the floor, slowly rotate your knees to the left and down towards the floor until you feel a stretch in your trunk and hold. Repeat on the opposite side. Do up to ten repetitions.

Transverse abdominis activation

Begin lying on your back with your knees bent, feet resting on the floor hip-width apart. Rest your fingers on your stomach just above your hip bones. Tighten your abdominals by drawing your naval in toward your spine. You should feel your muscles contract under your fingers. Hold this position for ten seconds, then relax and repeat for ten reps. Remember to breathe!

Pelvic tilts

Begin by lying flat on your back with your knees bent and feet resting on the floor.

Slowly press your low back into the mat and tilt your pelvis backward into the floor (your glutes will come up off the floor slightly). Slowly and with control, return to the starting position. Repeat for 3 minutes.

Knee to chest stretch

Begin by lying on your back with your legs straight. Using your hands, slowly pull one knee toward your chest until you feel a gentle stretch in your lower back. Release your leg back to the floor, and switch sides. Repeat for ten reps.


Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) is a therapy that uses low-voltage electrical current for pain relief. Electrodes are placed on a painful area and when the electric current is delivered it is believed to scramble the normal pain signal. Instead you feel a gentle buzzing feeling from the electrodes. TENs are relatively low-cost and portable so you can use it while doing your day-to-day activities.

Featured image: @yenbirao