1. Release your inner endorphins
Endorphins are hormones made naturally in your body. What many people don’t know is that endorphins may help block pain signals from registering in your brain. Endorphins also help alleviate anxiety, stress, and depression, which are all associated with chronic back pain and often make the pain worse.
Certain activities may boost your endorphin levels, such as aerobic, exercise, massage therapy or meditation.
2. Get enough restorative sleep
Pain is a leading cause of insomnia—difficulty with falling asleep and/or staying asleep. Inadequate sleep can also make your back pain worse. This vicious cycle makes it more difficult for you to get restorative sleep. Getting enough restorative sleep is needed for the body’s tissues to heal and recharge energy levels. If you have trouble sleeping, it is important to address pain or other factors that are causing it. Your doctor might recommend lifestyle changes, medications, or other treatments depending on what is disrupting your sleep.
3. Exercise your core
4. Engage your brain
Pain specialists have long understood that pain is more complicated than just a sensation. The way your brain interprets and processes pain signals plays an important role in how you perceive your pain.
The good news is that you can develop skills for your brain to reduce or ignore some pain signals. Some strategies to try include:
Mindful pain management. Practicing mindfulness and meditation, which typically involves slow, controlled breathing and focusing the mind, may help reduce the pain sensation. It can also help with relaxation. To get started with mindfulness and relaxation techniques, many free videos are available online.
5. Find activities that make you happy
Ongoing back pain can wreak havoc on your life, affecting your cherished relationships, finances, and your ability to get stuff done at work and at home. Finding activities that make you happy can help reduce some stress and may relieve some pain.
Some people find that even doing just 3 things that make them feel good each day—such as enjoying a comforting cup of tea or coffee, calling an old friend, walking the dog, or receiving a longish 30-second hug from a loved one—can make pain more tolerable. Even something as simple as laughter with a friend may stimulate feel-good endorphins.
6. Stretch your hamstrings twice daily
One often overlooked contributor to lower back pain is tight hamstrings. If your hamstring muscles—located in the back of your thighs—are too tight hamstrings your lower back will be stressed, leading to more pain. Hamstring stretching should be done carefully and at least twice per day for 15-30 seconds each time. There are many gentle stretching exercises that should not hurt.