Back Ache… A Simple Guide

We’ve all experienced it... that moment when you bend down to pick something up, and suddenly your back decides to betray you. Back aches and pains are no joke, and they can really put a dampener on your day. Whether you're dealing with a dull ache, a sharp pain, or that annoying stiffness that just won't quit, we've got your back (literally!)

Why does my back ache in the first place?

Most commonly, back pain is caused by muscle strains, poor posture, or repetitive movements. Sometimes, it's due to underlying conditions like herniated discs or arthritis. So if the pain persists and you’re not sure why, consult a healthcare professional such as your local pharmacist.

How can I prevent back aches?

Your back literally holds your body together, so it’s vital to take care of that precious spine. Maintaining good posture, practising proper lifting techniques, staying active, and strengthening your core muscles are all key. Don't forget to stretch and take occasional breaks from sitting if you're spending too much time in front of a screen.

Should I be worried if my back aches after a workout?

A little post-workout soreness is normal, especially if you’re only just getting into it, but if your back pain is severe or lasts longer than a couple of days, it's worth getting it checked out. You know what they say - listen to your body!

What's the best sleeping position for a happy back?

We can all agree that waking up with a stiff back is possibly one of the worst ways to start the day. While the right sleeping position varies for everyone, generally, sleeping on your side with a pillow between your knees or on your back with a pillow beneath your knees can provide some relief for your back. Remember, a cosy mattress and pillow combo are worth their weight in gold.

Should I apply heat or ice to soothe my back ache?

Both can be quite a duo when you need some backache relief. You can start with ice during the first 48 hours to reduce inflammation, and then switch to heat to relax those tense muscles. Just remember, don't apply them directly to your skin. Wrap your hot/cold packs in a towel to stay comfy.

When should I consider seeking medical help for my back pain?

If you're experiencing severe pain that doesn't improve, numbness or tingling, trouble controlling your bladder or bowels, or pain radiating down your legs, it's time to give your doctor a ring. Better to be safe than sorry! 

Pharmacies in Scotland and Wales can provide treatment for backache and lower back pain respectively. If your symptoms are severe, phone 111 for immediate medical advice.

Can stress and anxiety contribute to back aches?

Stress and anxiety can wreak havoc on our bodies, including our backs. When we're stressed, our muscles tighten up, and that tension can lead to discomfort. So, it's important to find healthy ways to manage stress, like practising mindfulness, going for a walk, or even taking a nice long bath!

Related: Mental Health Coping Mechanisms

Are there any natural remedies for easing back pain?

Some people find relief through natural remedies like applying peppermint or lavender essential oils, practising yoga or gentle stretching, or even indulging in a hot bath with Epsom salt. You also have easy access to painkillers and pain relief creams at your local pharmacy.

Can weight gain contribute to back aches?

Excess weight can put some strain on your back as it can change your posture and put stress on your spine. So, maintaining a healthy weight through a balanced diet and regular exercise can do wonders for your back and overall well-being.

Are there any exercises that can help alleviate back pain?

Gentle exercises like walking, swimming, or even engaging in back-friendly workouts, such as yoga or Pilates, can help strengthen your core, improve flexibility, and take some of the load off your back. Just remember, start slowly and listen to your body!