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Most Effective Ways to Relieve Lower Back Pain

"Lower back pain is the most common cause of job-related disability, and one of the leading contributors to missed work days."

Today’s live show with Dr. Nancy Lin, PhD holistic nutritionist, focuses on lower back pain.

Watch and learn effective techniques and tips – all part of a holistic back health plan you can begin immediately to lessen your lower back pain and hopefully make it a thing of the past.

Video Highlights

  • 04:31: 80% of adults have experienced low back pain at some point
  • 05:25: Focusing on preventative measures could save so much time and money
  • 05:34: Low back pain is usually categorized into to categories
  • 05:52: Mechanical lower back pain
  • 06:48: Inflammatory lower back pain
  • 09:15: Anti-inflammatory diet
  • 12:24: You also need anti-inflammatory support from supplementation
  • 13:40: Stress reduction techniques
  • 19:24: Poses to stretch and strengthen lower back
  • 19:38: Core-strengthening breaths
  • 22:21: Pelvis curls
  • 25:46: Cat cow
  • 27:37: Modified cat cow
  • 28:44: Chair version of cat cow
  • 29:23: Nerve flossing
  • 31:54: Nerve flossing in a chair
  • 32:34: Seated forward fold in a chair
  • 34:00: Standing forward fold
  • 34:33: Happy baby
  • 36:58: Summary

Do you suffer from lower back pain?

If you've ever injured your back, or suffered from a herniated or bulging disc or similar condition, you know it can be excruciating. It can be nagging pain, or it can be bad enough to make simple motion like walking nearly impossible. Either way, it'll affect your mood!

If you deal with back pain from time to time, you are not alone! In fact, 80% of adults experience low back pain at some point in their lives, and 25% of people have experienced low back pain in the last three months. That's one out of four people! Lower back pain is the most common cause of job-related disability, and one of the leading contributors to missed work days! People spend so much time and money trying to find relief from lower back pain, much of which could be saved by focusing on preventing the issues that cause lower back pain to begin with.

Low back pain is usually categorized into two categories: mechanical back pain, and inflammatory back pain.

Mechanical Lower Back Pain

This usually results from things like straining a muscle from heavy lifting, twisting, a car accident, or a sudden jolt while driving. It can also come from experiencing stress on the spinal bones and tissues from a herniated disc, or suffering degeneration of one or more joints in the back from overuse, or age.

Inflammatory Lower Back Pain

This pain is often a form of inflammatory arthritis, and occurs when your immune system is mistakenly attacking the joints in the spine. This ongoing inflammation from your immune system will continue to cause low back pain, and while treatments like losing weight, improving your posture, and exercising will allow for better circulation to the disc and muscles in your back and relieve pressure on the spinal column, they only take you part of the way to addressing the inflammation in your back.

Of course, you should do all of these things! But in addition to stretching and strengthening your back, you must also include an anti-inflammatory diet, which is specifically designed to minimize the inflammation in your body, plus practicing stress management techniques to reduce the tension of the muscles in your lower back.

Anti-inflammatory diet

If you are eating a diet with processed foods, like fast food, microwave dinners, or if you're eating a lot of sugar and drinking soda, you're inviting pain into your life! Dr. Nancy's anti-inflammatory diet gives you everything you need including antioxidants and anti-inflammatory foods that lower the inflammatory load, which fuels your back pain. Some of the best inflammatory foods include:

  • Berries (raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, etc.)
  • Salmon, which is super rich in omega-3's, EPA, and DHA, all healthy fats
  • Broccoli, which is one of the best sources of sulfane, an antioxidant that is super powerful and anti-inflammatory
  • Avocado. As we always say, an avocado a day keeps the inflammation at bay! 
  • Green tea. This should be your choice of drink after water. It's great for antioxidants, and helps energize you without leaving you jittery
  • Slow burning carbs like sweet potatoes and healthy fats like chia, hemp seeds, and flax seeds
  • Dark leafy greens like spinach, Swiss chard, and kale

Even with an improved diet, you need added support! The best support for normal inflammation responses comes from curcumin, the healing compound found inside turmeric. Smarter Curcumin supports joint, heart, digestive, brain health, and more.

Stress triggers back pain

We also know that stress can trigger muscle tension and painful spasms in your back. So as part of a holistic approach to relieving back pain, stress reduction techniques is an absolute must. This is essential to preventing back pain. Dedicate a minimum of ten minutes each day to stress relief, preferably in the morning or at night, but any time of day counts, and the more the better! Great stress reduction techniques include:

  • Conscious breathing. Take intentional, deep, belly breaths while clearing your mind. Breathe in through your nose to calm your central nervous system, your heart, and your body's stress response
  • Progressive muscle relaxation. This involves tensing and relaxing muscles in the body, focusing on one muscle group at a time. You can do this sitting in a chair, or lying down on a yoga mat. Work your way up the body by starting with your feet: tense the muscles in your feet, then relax. Next, your ankles, next your calves, and ending with your face and head.
  • Guided imagery. this involves focusing on specific mental images, to bring about a feeling of relaxation. Simply think of things that make you feel calm: a beach with ocean waves, a breeze, whatever feels calm. Studies have found that this practice, especially paired with soothing, instrumental music, helps relieve chronic stress
  • Basic yoga for your back. Yoga focuses on particular poses and breathing, and has been proven to help with relaxation, especially when practiced consistently. It's also a great way to stretch and lengthen the muscles of the lower back. 

The bottom line is that any kind of movement can be painful when you're experiencing lower back pain. But you can't just stay immobile! Take the steps to move through the pain and do what's necessary to relieve it. Unless your doctor says otherwise, a short, slow walk, gentle yoga, and stretches, are the most effective ways to loosen your back muscles, get your endorphins flowing, and relieve pain.

Poses to Stretch and Strengthen Lower Back

Often, lower back pain can occur because of a weak core, or weak hamstrings. So the following stretches and poses can help strengthen your core, stretch your hamstrings, and not only relieve back pain but prevent future bouts if practiced consistently. 

1. Core-strengthening breaths.

While sitting up, take a deep breath, making sure it's from the belly, not the chest. Your shoulders should not rise while you breath, but your belly should. Inhale deeply, keeping shoulders relaxed and down, and hold the breath for five seconds, pushing your belly out as if anticipating a punch in the gut. Do this about 10 times. You can even do this while watching TV! You're strengthening your core every time you do this.

2. Pelvis curls. Start by laying down on your back.

Again, breathe in through your nose, with your belly. As you exhale, curl the spine up. Important note: you are not just lifting your pelvis here, but curling your spine and your tailbone up. This is called spinal segmentation. Imagine your spine like links in a chain, with each vertebra as a link. You want to move each link separately from the others. As you curl, the links of the chain go slowly up one at a time, then slowly down.

3. Cat cow.

It's important to continue to think of your spine as links in a chain, and flow through this motion, going from the cat position to the cow position slowly, one link at a time. Start on all fours, with a neutral spine and flat back. For the cat position, tuck in your tail bone and slowly dome your back, pressing the earth away from you, and looking toward your naval. Then slowly, one link at a time, untuck your tailbone and move to the cow position, dipping your spine inward and ending with your head looking up. Repeat. 

4. Modified cat cow. 

If the previous stretch was too intense, start by sitting on your knees and placing a block or rolled up towel underneath your sit bones. Cross your arms in front of you, pressing down on your chest, and repeat the cat-cow pose in this position. Inhale, pushing your belly out and then exhale, curling your tailbone and doming your spine. Repeat.

5. If this is too intense as well, you can do this on a chair.

Sit on the edge of your chair, cross your arms and press your shoulders, and inhale, pressing the belly out and keeping the shoulders stationary. 

6. Nerve flossing.

For the first method, start out laying on your back, one knee bent, and the other leg straight. On an inhale, raise the straight leg, and raise the torso at the same time. Repeat several times, and switch sides. 

7. If that was difficult, you can do the same thing from a chair.

Sit all the way back in the chair, and lift one leg up on inhale, and lower it on exhale.

8. Seated forward fold in a chair.

Sit all the way back in your chair and open your legs so that your body can fold forward between them. As you exhale, fold forward until your torso is resting on your thighs. Relax your face and let your head hang. For a deeper stretch, bring your heels to the ground. 

9. Standing forward fold.

Start standing up with feet hip distance apart, and then simply fold forward, keeping the knees slightly bent, until you are again resting your torso on your thighs (or as close as you can get). For a deep stretch, cross your arms and allow gravity to pull your upper body down further. 

10. Happy baby.

Lie down on your back, and grab both your feet from the outside, and pull your thighs toward the ground. If it's too difficult to grab your feet, just place your hands behind your thighs and pull down. Rock side to side to give your back a gentle massage. Make sure your spine does not come up from the ground. 

Finally, just hug your knees to your chest, and relax. 

All these stretches and poses will help you feel calm, and more limber and agile, while strengthening your core and loosening your muscles.

Remember, 80% of us will deal with back pain at some point in our lives. The key is to prevent pain as much as possible, and not let pain rule your life. Research continues to show that inflammation has a significant impact on your lower back, often making muscle sprains and herniated discs more painful and debilitating. Taking a holistic approach has been proven effective time and time again. This approach involves three steps: an anti-inflammatory diet with natural supplementation support, stress reduction techniques, and gentle stretching. 

Tune in to our next video to learn how to deal with upper back pain!

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