According to statistics from the American Chiropractic Association, an estimated 80% of the population will deal with back pain at some point in their lives. Traditionally, many adults turn to chiropractic adjustments or medication to deal with a sore, stiff back. Unfortunately, medication only masks symptoms while chiropractic appointments can be inconvenient and become expensive over time. The good news is that a variety of home remedies for lower back pain exist. These options are simple, affordable, and proven to help alleviate pain. Following is a list of 12 home remedies for back pain and how they can reduce your symptoms.
1. Daily Hamstring Stretches
First on the list of home remedies for back pain is performing daily hamstring stretching. Stretching is a crucial step in keeping muscles loose, flexible, and resilient. The hamstrings are an especially important area to focus on since tight hamstrings are a commonly overlooked factor in back pain.
If too tight, the hamstrings can place stress on the low back and sacroiliac joints. This pressure leads to an increased level of pain. There is a wide range of gentle stretches that help loosen up the hamstrings. By performing these stretches a minimum of once a day (preferably twice), it is possible to reduce the severity of your back pain.
- All you need is a floor, but a soft surface such as a rug or yoga mat is ideal
For starters, begin by researching gentle hamstring exercises (such as the ones previously linked) as a home remedy for back pain. Incorporate two to three of these stretches into your daily routine. Stretches should challenge your muscles but never cause pain.
Another excellent option on the list of home remedies for back pain is chamomile tea. Stress causes muscles to stiffen and become more painful. Drinking chamomile tea promotes relaxation which will help loosen muscles and reduce tension and soreness.
- Chamomile tea
To use chamomile as a home remedy for back pain, boil one mug of water and steep a bag of chamomile tea or stir in dried chamomile – 1 teaspoon. Let the tea cool and drink daily – up to three times. If using dried chamomile, strain prior to drinking.
3. Ice Therapy
Using ice therapy as a home remedy for back pain reduces inflammation, a major underlying cause of back pain, and provides immediate relief. Ice provides powerful anti-inflammatory properties that reduce swelling and help encourage healing. It provides pain relief by acting as an anesthetic and reducing nerve impulses to the brain.
- A source of consistent cold (a pack of vegetables, an ice pack, or a damp towel placed in the freezer for about 15 to 20 minutes)
For the first few days, apply your chosen source of cold frequently in 10 to 15 minute increments. After that, aim to apply ice for 10 to 15 minute periods two or three times a day.
4. Epsom Salts
Another excellent tip on the list of home remedies for back pain is adding Epsom salts to a bath. Epsom salts help soothe sore muscles and loosen stiff areas. Once added to water, Epsom salts dissolve into magnesium and sulfate, two minerals thought to benefit muscles.
- Epsom salts
- A lukewarm or hot bath
Add approximately 1 to 2 cups of Epsom salts to a bath and soak for 20 to 30 minutes. This can be repeated daily if desired.
5. Heat Therapy
In addition to ice therapy, another option on the list of back pain home remedies is heat therapy. Heat – whether delivered from a microwaved pad, a hot shower, a relaxing bath, or an electric heating pad – provides soothing comfort and pain-relieving properties. Applying heat to a sore back helps loosen and relax muscles to temporarily reduce pain and discomfort.
Heat’s ability to reduce back pain is due to two main reasons. First, it encourages blood flow and boosts circulation to deliver healing nutrients to tender, sore areas of the back. Second, it helps reduce the pain signals sent to the brain.
- A source of low-level, consistent heat such as a shower, bath, heating pad, or electric pad
- A towel, if desired
Experiment to see what kind of heat source provides you with the most relief. Trying soaking in a hot bath or letting warm water from the shower run directly over your back. If using a heating pad, use a towel as a barrier if the heat source is too hot. Heat should be a comfortable temperature, never so hot that it hurts to apply, and used for around 15 to 20 minutes per session. Heat therapy can be used in conjunction with ice therapy for added relief.
Regarding your soreness, consider trying garlic as a home remedy for back pain. Garlic possesses powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Consider using it along with other home remedies for back pain to speed up your healing process. In addition to incorporating it into cooking and eating raw garlic daily (1 to 2 cloves), follow the instructions below for topical application.
- Fresh garlic
- Coconut or sesame oil
Once a day, sautee 8 to 10 cloves of garlic along with 2 teaspoons of your chosen oil until browned. Strain the cloves and allow to cool. Once cooled, apply the mixture to affected areas for 3 hours. Rinse thoroughly in a shower or bath.
7. Adequate Sleep
In terms of home remedies for back pain, getting sufficient sleep is one of the top methods for speeding up the recovery process. Since pain may lead to difficulty falling or staying asleep, it is important to take certain steps to increase the chance of a good night of rest.
Consider investing in a better mattress if yours is sagging or soft – this can contribute to curvature in the spine and promote back pain. In a pinch, a section of plywood (around 3/4 of an inch thick) can be situated between the mattress and the box spring to boost firmness.
- A medium-firm mattress
- Sleeping mask, if desired
Perform habits known to promote quality sleep such as avoiding television or computer screens too close to bedtime, avoid caffeine or alcohol within 6 hours of bedtime, and keep your bedroom extremely dark or wear a sleep mask to block out light.
Additionally, aim to sleep on your back if possible with a pillow underneath your knees. If you must sleep on your side, it is recommended to place a pillow underneath your lower abdomen and between your knees to reduce strain.
8. Proper Posture
Next on the list of back pain home remedies is working on proper posture. A properly aligned stance places the least amount of stress on the back and therefore reduces pain. It is important to follow certain posture and alignment rules in order to speed up healing or prevent an injury from occurring in the first place.
When sitting, avoid slumping – this places an unnecessary load on your back – and keep your spine straight, feet flat on the floor, and your head aligned forward. If lifting, bend at the knees and keep the spine in a neutral position. For standing, try to maintain an evenly balanced weight and a neutral spine.
- Nothing – just knowledge
Study proper posture techniques and tips for reducing back pain from credible sources such as Harvard Health.
9. Ginger Tea
In addition to the previous home remedies for lower back pain, consider trying ginger root tea as a possible option for relief. Although most notorious for reducing nausea, ginger root also possesses anti-inflammatory properties that can reduce pain and swelling. Ginger root is even believed to exhibit effects similar to a mild dose of aspirin.
- Fresh ginger root
- Boiling water
- Sweetener such as honey, if desired
Cut a small section (1 to 2 inches) of ginger root into thin slices. Place the slices in a pot with 1 quart of boiling water. Heat the mixture on low for about 30 minutes, sweetener if desired, and drink when cool.
The list of home remedies for back pain continues with endorphins. Endorphins are hormones produced in the body that serve as natural pain killers. Exercise is one of the most effective ways to stimulate the release of endorphins.
These powerful hormones work by inhibiting your brain’s ability to recognize pain signals. In addition to alleviating pain, endorphins are also capable of reducing anxiety, depression, and stress, all of which can lead to tense muscles that worsen back pain.
- Comfortable workout clothes or leisure clothes
If possible, enjoy a low-impact activity that gets your heart rate pumping such as swimming or biking. If exercise is too painful, consider asking a friend or family member for a relaxing massage or participate in a meditation session – both of these activities are known to release endorphins.
One of the most effective home remedies for back pain is avoiding prolonged rest or inactivity. The longer you avoid movement, the more stiff and weak muscles can become. This stiffness will increase pain and discomfort.
Walking is a low-impact activity that is usually possible unless pain is extremely severe. After lying in a prone position or sitting for long periods of time, walking can be a surprising source of relief.
- Comfortable, supportive shoes
- A treadmill, a smooth trail, or sidewalks
Begin by walking a comfortable distance, even if it is only for 5 minutes. Aim to get out walking at least once or twice each day.
12. Pepper Products
Finally, the list of home remedies for back pain concludes with products containing an extract from hot pepper known as capsaicin. This potent compound is capable of temporarily decreasing the intensity of pain signals transmitted to the brain.
- Head to the drugstore to find a product containing a 0.075 or 0.025 concentration of capsaicin
Apply the capsaicin ointment in a thin layer to the affected area up to four times per day. Discontinue use if you experience any irritation.
Overall, if you find yourself suffering from uncomfortable back issues, consider trying one or more of the home remedies for lower back pain mentioned above. These home remedies for back pain are proven to help reduce the level of pain and provide immediate relief in some cases.