I see a lot of chronic pain patients in my practice. A lot of what I initially do for them is to teach them how to treat minor flares at home. So, I was thinking I should share that information with you guys as well!

If you have severe back pain or have shooting pain down your arms or legs and have weakness, these can’t be treated at home…you NEED to see your doctor. But if you have minor muscle soreness from working out hard at the gym or in your yard, let’s see if some of the following suggestions might help you out!

  1. If something is red and swollen, don’t put heat on it. Ice it and rest it and see your doctor if it’s not getting better!
  2. If hot showers make your back feel good, try some topical arnica cream and use a heating pad for 20 minutes daily until discomfort improves. Again, if it’s not getting better, see your doctor!
  3. Gentle stretches that feel good to the muscle area might help.
  4. If you have an acupuncturist, ask about cupping and gua sha as well as acupuncture needling therapy.
  5. Strain-Counterstrain therapy for myofascial release could be very helpful so check your area for practitioners for this. It won’t leave you as sore as a deep tissue  massage.
  6. Making sure you stay hydrated and are getting enough amino acids, minerals and vitamins is essential to healthy muscle and nerve functioning.
  7. If you have bone pain, ask your doctor to check your vitamin D level because low levels can cause or worsen bone pain.
  8. Make sure your mattress is the right level of firmness for you.
  9. Make sure you are getting plenty of sleep because pain worsens and recovery is slower if you are sleep deficient.
  10. Ask your doctor about what activities will help you to maintain a healthy back. See if physical therapy or getting a trainer will help you to make sure your posture and positioning during activities and working out is safe and appropriate!

These are some very basic concepts for a healthy back. So keep these tips in mind but make sure to stay active this holiday season because our body’s made for movement and it’ll help you keep unwanted weight at bay. And while you are out having fun in the snow, make sure you’re moving safely and keeping your back and body healthy by doing your activities with the right posturing/positioning and resting afterwards to allow your body to heal!

Play safe this winter everyone! Who says you can only have fun during the summer, winter time activities can be just as much fun, as long as you stay warm and pick safe activities that won’t over-extend your exercise capacity or your back.