You've just come home from work and your back aches. You could ice, take a bath, or get a massage. But what if you could just lie on the floor and feel better?
Here's two easy postures anyone can do in a pinch to reduce upper back pain and low back pain. You just need a couple pillows and a towel or blanket.
How to fix upper back pain:
Imagine going into your favorite stretch; feels good, right? Now imagine holding this stretch for an hour, a day, entire years of your life. Now it’s not so good.
That’s what you do to your upper back when you slouch.
When you slouch, the upper back is pulled long and taut, and the front of the body is compressed. As the upper back becomes uncomfortable, painful, and taut, our natural instinct is to stretch. But as you now know, that’s only making the problem worse. We can’t solve over-stretched muscles by stretching them further.
This concept is absolutely key to saving your back health and improving your posture.
Instead of stretching, try this. This is a functional rest posture called Supported Fish (Matsyasana). You lie on a tall, narrow pillow or rolled up towel. Fit it along your spine, in-between your shoulderblades, and relax. It’s that easy!
This is the opposite of the “working at the desk, arms in front of me, head forward” position. It allows your shoulders to rest behind your chest.
This accomplishes two important goals: it opens up the chest, and it shortens the back.
Finally, those over-lengthened muscles can rest and return to a normal length!
Play some relaxing music, turn off the lights, and simply enjoy this posture to relieve upper body imbalance. This is a great habit for the end of your work day: counterbalance 8 hours of desk work with at least 10 minutes of functional rest.
How to make low back pain go away:
A common bad posture is exaggerating the curve of the low back. It's called anterior pelvic tilt, but you can just imagine sticking your butt way out. This doesn't usually stem from vanity - more likely to counterbalance our upper body slouching forward. We often do this when we sit. This pelvic tilt crunches up the low back and creates tension, discomfort, and pain. For relief, simply lie on your back and put your legs up on a chair or stack of pillows. Hips at 90 degrees, knees at 90 degrees. This posture uses your legs as a lever to posteriorly rotate your pelvis, elongating your low back and relieving lumbar tension.
Enjoy this position for 10 minutes. You may play relaxing music or your favorite meditation track to calm your mind and body together. Combine it with Supported Fish to relieve upper back pain at the same time.
Now go nap your way to a happier, healthier back!
Jesse Martel is a Licensed Massage Therapist who practices in Seattle, Washington. She has helped many people overcome neck/shoulder injuries and chronic back pain with Upgraded Myofascial Release massage. Treatment includes Aromatherapy, Myofascial Release, Cupping, Lymphatic Drainage, and Kinesiology Tape at one flat rate. Her website is SageBodyworkSeattle.com.