A blog by runners. For runners.

Home remedies for lower back pain

Treat your lower back pain at home.Lower back injuries are common and can happen doing everyday activities. Lifting something heavy, bending down the wrong way, or stepping awkwardly during a run can spark back pain. Sometimes these injuries are serious. If you’re in extreme pain or feel numbness or tingling in your legs, call you doctor immediately.

If your lower back pain is mild, however, it may respond to treatment you can do at home.

Try these remedies:

  1. Ice, ice baby. Ice helps swelling go down. When an injury first happens, there’s inflammation around the area. Ice works best in the first 24 to 48 hours after the injury. Apply an ice pack to the area for 20 minutes at a time, several times per day. After the first few days, you can apply heat to the area instead. But don’t use heat at first, even though it may feel good on the muscles, because it can cause more inflammation.
  2. Give yourself a massage. If your back pain is caused by tight muscles, massage may help. A professional massage would be great, but a self massage can work just as well. Lay down on a foam roller or tennis ball, bend your knees, and slowly roll the ball or foam roller around the muscles in your low back and hips. Here are more tips on self massage and some foam rolling basics.
  3. Try over-the-counter (OTC) medications. OTC pain meds (such as acetaminophen) and anti-inflammatory medicine (like ibuprofen) can temporarily relieve back pain. Note these medications won’t treat the cause of the pain – just mask it – so it’s best to use drugs along with other therapies. Always take all medication exactly as prescribed, and make sure to read up about running and painkillers.
  4. Rest. If running aggravates your back injury, take some time off. Stick with cross-training activities that don’t stress the area, such as using a recumbent bike. Or take several days off from exercise if you can’t work out without feeling uncomfortable.
  5. Keep moving. Complete rest isn’t best for moderate back pain, though. In fact, staying in one position for too long – like in a chair at your desk – can make your low back pain feel worse, and lengthen the healing process. Try to be active every day, avoiding activities that hurt your back. If you have an office job, get up and move around or stretch every so often.
  6. Mind your posture. Your mom was right – it’s important to stand – and sit – up straight and have good posture. Slouching forward puts extra pressure on the low back muscles. Instead, stand up straight and roll your shoulders all the way back. Have posture check ins during the day, as it’s easy to go back to slouching if that’s what you’re use to.
  7. Wear supportive shoes. Wear comfortable, supportive shoes – like your running sneakers – all day long. Steer clear of high heels, flip-flops, and other shoes without support while you’re dealing with a back injury. Here are some rules to follow when selecting non-running shoes.

If you try these remedies and your pain doesn’t improve after a few weeks – or if it gets worse – see your doctor.

Written by Jen Matz.

low-back-pain-and-running RELATED