As someone who has dealt with a lot of back problems for about 20 years, I want to take some time to discuss chronic back pain management. I would like to talk about some of the things I have learned over the years, what to do, and not to do, to help manage back pain.
I had a real wakeup call in late 2015 and suffered a pretty severe back injury. This has changed my mindset on how to manage everyday tasks in relation to my back pain.
Admittedly, I am a slow learner. It really took me a long time, and a lot of trial and error to figure out what triggers my pain.
I was stubborn, stupid is more like it, and always just thought since I was young, I could continue to do whatever I wanted in life. Whether it was lifting heavy (heavy for me) weights at the gym, or putting a dryer on my back if we were moving.
See, I have chronic pain, and if I twist wrong, or lift something I shouldn’t, this will trigger a twinge of shooting pain down my leg.
My pain typically runs down the side of my right leg, and I feel it in my foot.
The pain can be short-lived (go away within an hour) or will stick around for a while (a few days).
If I do something stupid, try something new (or overdo it) at the gym, short-lived pain is not too severe.
Often times after a night of sleep, the pain will have subsided and I am good to go the next day. There are occasions when it does take a few days for it to clear up.
I have learned what tends to set off the electricity radiating down my leg. Now, if only I could harness that energy to power my house LOL!
So, let’s get into some of the things I have learned over the years, and hopefully, some of these can rub off on you if you are in a similar situation.
Proper lifting really matters
We lift a lot of stuff during the day, even though you may not realize it. Putting a child in a car seat, groceries in and out of the car, moving a load of laundry, we lift a lot.
There are a lot of opportunities for injury, even doing everyday tasks if you don’t perform them correctly. Improper lifting can cause harm to muscles, joints, and discs in your back 
As I mentioned, if I twist, or lift something awkwardly, this set off my sciatica, that shooting, tingling, sometimes numb feeling all the way down to the toes on my right foot.
Proper lifting is essential to help guard against back pain. Following these steps, may help your pain:
- It is essential to keep your back straight when you lift. They always say to lift with your legs, not your back.
- Try keeping a straight back, chest out, and bend with your hips, this can really make a big difference.
- Keeping objects close to your body will help as well. If I hold a heavy object out away from my body, I notice right away my pain triggers.
If you are a lower back lifter, this mechanically correct motion may take some time getting used to, but your lower back with thank you at the end of the day.
Check your ego and ask for help
This one has been super hard for me.
First of all, I am a man, so asking for help is not necessarily the first thing that comes to mind, especially when lifting heavy objects.
Second of all, I am a man, and I don’t ask for help when I lift heavy objects.
Okay, with that out of the way, I don’t care if you are male or female if you have back problems, sciatica, for example, as I do, do yourself a solid by getting some help.
My wife is always happy to help, and the two of us working together can do a lot. Ask a friend, or a neighbor, brother, sister, whoever, as long as it is someone who is physically capable.
For years, I just did everything myself, I finally got smart and learned that it’s better to ask for help than spend days in pain because I was too stubborn. Work smarter, not harder!
Walk it off
Walking can be a handy tool in the fight against back pain. You may not realize it, but walking helps to build endurance and even works the core muscles. Plus, walking is a great low impact exercise, and little impact is good for back pain.
If you are physically able to go for a walk with your back pain, you can see some benefits. When we exercise, the body releases endorphins. These endorphins help to reduce the perception of pain. 
I know it doesn’t sound like much, but just a short walk around the block, or during lunchtime at work can really help.
Not only the endorphin release, but walking will also help you to build muscle that will help to support your spine, and hopefully help your back pain.
I would recommend a good supportive shoe, like a running shoe, and try to walk on even terrain. By all means, if walking hurts, stop.
Move your body
In addition to walking, an exercise plan is the ultimate way to stave off back pain. A lot of back pain is temporary and will go away on its own. One way to help prevent back pain is to stick with an exercise program.
Building or maintaining the muscles that support the spine can be an effective way to stop or prevent future flare-ups. Depending on your current condition, you may need to consult with your doctor to see if a complete exercise program is for you.
With all the sitting we do these days, at work, in the car, at home, our muscles sometimes don’t get the work they need. Sitting all day can cause muscles to tighten, and that can lead to more significant problems. Working out just a few days per week can make a big difference.
One of my favorite exercises is using an elliptical machine. This is a low impact way to work your hamstrings, glutes, lower back and core muscles. If you belong to a gym, put that membership to good use.
If you do not belong to a gym and are interested in an elliptical for your home, I have some reviews on my site, for instance, check out my post about elliptical machines or this one about elliptical trainers from Bowflex.
Another area I struggle with! I am always aware of my posture, or my lack of at times. I find myself hunched over my keyboard and I have to remind myself to correct that bad posture.
When you slouch, this can put undue pressure on your spine, which can lead to problems with muscles, joints, and discs in your back. What this all means is that poor posture can cause much more significant problems.
I am indeed guilty of slouching, but I do catch myself and correct it frequently throughout the day.
Some basic tips that I have learned over the years are:
- Walk tall – put your phone away!! Don’t’ walk hunched over, staring at your phone. There will be plenty of time to do that when you are supposed to be working J
- When you are sitting at your desk, keep your back flush against your chair and your feet firmly on the floor. Your knees hip should be pretty much level.
All of these little things can add up when it comes to posture, so try to keep this in mind next time you are hunched over your keyboard.
Wrapping things up: Chronic back pain management
Hopefully, you can implement some of these tips I have learned over the years to manage your back pain. I think the most significant things to take away here are learning to ask for help, and moving your body.
We tend to fall into these bad habits and fail to get up and move during the day, and this can have adverse effects on our backs. Muscles will tighten up, discs can become compromised, and it’s downhill from there.
Back pain can be very frustrating and especially sciatic nerve pain, as I know all too well. Little things like lifting correctly, exercise and proper posture can go a long way to helping manage back pain.
Trying to avoid making back pain worse is one thing I have been focusing on in my life. It has taken me some time to figure out what my pain triggers are. Hopefully, you can gain from my experience.