Q: How do I get relief from a back spasm?
A: As with any health problem, the first thing you want to try to do is prevent the problem from occurring in the first place.
Pay attention to how you use your back. Try avoid twisting at the waist (instead turn the entire body) and always use your legs (and not your back) when lifting heavy objects.
You should also work to strengthen your core abdominal muscles as they provide stability for the back and help take some of the workload off of the weaker back muscles.
When you first feel a strain in your back, try these steps to avoid or reduce pain. These are the most important home treatments for the first few days of back pain (if it persists, see your doctor for a thorough exam)
1. Relax. Lie down in a comfortable position
2. Ice. Put ice or a cold pack on your back for 10 minutes every hour to reduce pain and speed healing
3. Pelvic tilts. This exercise gently move the spine and stretches the lower back
• Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor
• Slowly tighten your muscles and press your lower back against the floor. Hold for 10 seconds (don’t hold your breath). Slowly relax
4. Walk (no bed rest!!) Take a short walk (3-5 minutes) on a flat, level surface every 3 hours.
Dr. Brent Ridge is the health expert for Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. You can call and ask him a question live every Tuesday at 2 p.m. Eastern on Sirius Satellite Radio, Channel 112 (1.866.675.6675). You can also follow along as he learns to grow his own food and raise goats on his farm in upstate New York by visiting www.beekman1802.com.
Got a health question for Dr. Brent? E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.