The 5 Steps You Should Take After Throwing Out Your Back

If you’re reading this right now, chances are you either a) just threw out your back and don’t know what to do or b) are trying to help a loved one after they just threw out theirs.

Total. Bummer.

Lucky for you though, there ARE some steps you can take to relieve the pain and prevent any further damage!

But, first things first–we need to define exactly what it means to “throw out one’s back.” According to the Physician Partners of America, a “thrown out back” is just jargon for “acute back pain.” This can constitute a number of different maladies, such as a muscle strain from overexertion, a ligament sprain in the lower back from overstretching, an intense muscle spasm, or a sudden disc rupture from prolonged overexertion.

As you can see, that searing pain can be due to a number of different injuries, any of which must be diagnosed and treated by a doctor. Having said that, it’s not always easy to get into the doc’s office at the drop of a hat. This means that you will need to take the right steps to protect your back the best you can while you wait it out.

In an interview with Good Housekeeping, Liz Owen, a yoga teacher, and Keith Puri, a chiropractor gave some great tips for babying that back when it needs it the most.

Owen explains that most of the time, people experience the worst pain in their lumbar areas, aka the L1 through L5 vertebrae. If this sounds like your issue, then you will want to do these 5 things while you’re waiting to see your doc…

  1. Get vertical

    The idea of standing up might not feel like the best thing to do, but you could be doing further damage to your back if you’re curled up in an awkward position. As an alternative, Owen suggests putting your hands on your thighs and slowly lifting yourself up to a vertical position, making sure that your core is fully engaged. When your tummy is tight, your spine will neutralize and, hopefully, some of the pressure will go away.

  2. Stay straight

    This means no bending, twisting, and definitely no attempts at trying to “pop” your back into place. Puri suggests turning your full body instead of rotating your spine. The less movement in the area, the better!

  3. Reach into your medicine cabinet

    To treat the pain, you can use a topical treatment, like Arnica gel. For pain relief, try an NSAID like ibuprofen. Just remember to take as directed. And, don’t go overboard on the pain pills–sometimes these make patients feel so good that they’ll end up resuming their normal activities. Of course, when this happens, the injury to the back could end up getting worse over time, not better!

  4. And, unfurl that yoga mat

    Another great way to bring some much-needed relief to your lumbar area is to lie down on a yoga mat, with a folded towel underneath your lower back, as shown in the photo above. Once you’re in this position, hug your knees gently to your chest, one at a time. While doing this, only move as far as is comfortable for you. If you feel any heightened pain or pulling sensation, stop immediately.

  5. Listen to what your body is trying to tell you

    Some might feel a good amount of relief from completing the above steps, but if you don’t, it’s definitely time you seek professional help. That said, don’t worry about your predicament too much. After all, obsessing will only make you tense your back even more!

Of course, if the pain is unbearable, you are experiencing numbness, and/or you have a history of heart problems, don’t wait it out. Instead, seek medical help right away at your local ER or by calling 9-1-1. Don’t take any chances with your bod–remember, it’s the only one you have, so you better take care of it!

We’d love to hear your thoughts on these back pain tips. Have you ever thrown out your back before? If so, what did you do? Do you have any favorite back stretches that you would like to share?