Tag Archives: Muscle


The bad news is that back pain will likely plague you at some point in your life, and probably more than once. The good news is there is a lot you can do to prevent, manage and relieve that pain. Heat and ice treatments work wonders and both bring easy, convenient, and fast relief.

You can treat any sprain/strain injuries with hot and cold packs because both help reduce muscle spasm and pain. There are differences in these temperature treatments though. Ice reduces blood flow thereby quieting swollen tissues. Heat, on the other hand, stimulates blood flow. The increased circulation brings more nutrients to the injured site and helps relax sore muscles.

At the first sign of an injury it’s recommended that you start with ice to calm the swelling. Ice the area for about 15 minutes then repeat the icing in about an hour. After 24-48 hours, move to heat treatments.

Note that alternating ice / heat is a general recommendation. Because both ice and heat are pain-relieving, do which ever makes you feel better. There’s no magic rule. Some people like to alternate hot/cold packs, while others prefer to stick one temperature.

There are a lot of products on the market today that make hot/cold back therapy easy. They can be conveniently heated in the microwave or cooled in the freezer. Look for those which are large and can be draped around an area. Some are specially made for the lower back and attach with Velcro much like weight belt.

No cold pack? A bag of frozen peas can do wonders in a pinch. Whatever your do, avoid putting ice directly on your skin, it’s irritating. Place ice cubes in a bag, wrap a towel around it and apply. Be patient. It takes a few minutes for the cold to come through. Likewise, you can heat up a moistened towel in the microwave for a comforting moist heat wrap. Again, take care when applying to skin. You may need a second towel wrapped around the first.

A strong healthy body with good core strength helps prevent back pain in the first place.  Pilates is all about the spine and among the best ways to keep your back healthy for life. There are some simple exercises to bring quick relief such as this easy to do anywhere anytime upper back release.

5 Ways to Relieve Back Pain

The bad news is most of us will experience back pain at some point in our lives.  The good news is most of it is due to muscle strain and will go away through time.  But no need to grin and bear it!  Here are some quick and easy ways to get relief now!

Increase your endorphins!  These are natural pain-suppressing proteins released by your brain through physical activity, laughter and meditation.




Heat and/or Ice is nice! People often ask me which is right and when?  The rule of thumb is within the first 24-48 hours ice to reduce inflammation (A bag of frozen peas works wonders).  Heat increases circulation, stimulates blood flow and brings healing nutrients to the site of pain. Microwave a moist towel and relax!

Over-the-counter meds. Some reduce pain, some reduce inflammation, some are combined to do both. Nsaids reduce inflammation (Aleve, Aspirin, Advil, Motrin). Tylenol reduces pain but is not an anti-inflammatory.  Take a FULL glass of water with all meds and follow interval dosing on label. It’s easier to keep pain at bay than get rid of it.

Massage. You can do it your self with a foam roller and tennis balls but it’s so much nicer to have it done by a professional massage therapist. Ahhhhh…




Topical Treatments. These heat and cool skin with menthol, wintergreen or eucalyptus oil (Biofreeze, Icy Hot, Flexall, Tiger Balm). Some creams have aspirin (Bengay, Aspercream).  Homeopathic medicine includes Arnica gel (reduce inflammation and bruising)

For more ways to manage and prevent back pain, check out my book, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Back Pain.