How to Prevent Back Pain and How to Get Relief from Back Pain

Are you sitting up straight? Super -- because if you slump, slouch, or hunch through the day, you may join the 80 percent of Americans who will suffer from back pain at some point in their lives. Recent research confirms that what you do every day can trigger soreness or spasms. So whether you're at home Googling for a great deal on eBay or sashaying down the street in those heels, you can save yourself some discomfort by babying your back. Here's how.

Forget the salute

"Good posture is not standing like a soldier at attention," says Arthur White, M.D., a renowned back surgeon and author of "The Posture Prescription." That General Patton stance puts pressure on the spine. Instead, White recommends standing in a relaxed, balanced manner. And you should check your stance throughout the day --when you're waiting for a latte, say, or an elevator -- and adjust as needed.

Put your feet first

High arches, flat feet: These foot problems, among others, can sabotage your posture and lead to an aching back. Women are particularly vulnerable; they suffer from four times as many foot ailments as men. And narrow, ill-fitting high heels are enemy number one. But doctors agree that custom-made corrective shoe inserts (orthotics) can improve most of these troubles. There are even "dress" orthotics for your pumps. "Orthotics can tilt the alignment into balance and relieve back stress," says Robert Shmerling, M.D., a Harvard Medical School associate professor.

Walk this way

Studies show that walking relieves back pain. But if your posture is poor, you may be taking a step backward instead. Bearing weight on one side or hunching as you walk may cause you pain over time. Sherry Brourman, a Los Angeles, California-based physical therapist who specializes in "gait training," healed her back problems by making a habit of walking the right way. Her advice: Unlock your knees and concentrate on keeping both your ribs and your pelvis "stacked." Relax your buttocks and pull your stomach muscles into a "soft hold" (no clenching). Your feet should roll from heel to ball. Think balanced, not rigid, and don't put too much pressure on your heels.

Lighten your load

Chances are one side of your body does double duty like carrying a toddler around or your laptop home. And playing favorites throws off your posture, which can really strain your muscles, says Daniel Mazanec, M.D., head of spine medicine at the Cleveland Clinic Spine Institute. The best solution: Switch shoulders or hips periodically.

But breaking this habit is not always that easy. Try resting your purse on your left shoulder on the way to work, then shifting it to your right shoulder on the way home. Also, whatever you're carrying, be sure that you keep it as close to your body as possible.

Slump less, break more

Between work, Web surfing, and TV watching, you probably spend most of your day sitting, which is murder on your back. Throw poor posture into the equation, and look out. A landmark Swedish study shows that sitting upright increases the force on the spine by 140 percent, compared with standing; slump, and that number rises to 185 percent. Rules to sit by: Line up head over shoulders and shoulders over hips, rest on your "sitz bones" (the two bones in your rear end), and place feet flat on the floor with legs at a 90-degree angle. And don't just sit there; take breaks every 45 to 60 minutes to prevent strain, recommends Norman J. Kahan, M.D., director of Sports and Occupational Medical Associates in Cupertino, California. He advises getting up and stretching. Neck rolls, chin tucks, and bending back with your hands on your hips can unkink muscles.

How to get Back Pain Relief

Sometimes all you do to prevent back pain is not enough and when you have back pain you will do almost anything to get rid of it. The best drug-free solution to relieve back pain, reduce inflammation and promote healing is cold therapy. Cold therapy refers to the application of a cold pack along with proper compression against the painful body part.

The I.C.E. DOWN cold packs and back wraps are the industry leader for cold therapy and the treatment and relief of back pain. It is the only cold therapy product to complete clinical trials and be endorsed by the American Physical Therapy Association. It is the most widely used modality for the treatment and relief of back pain.

Doctor Gary Goldish Director of The Institute for Low back Care states "the analegsic use of I.C.E. DOWN decreases pain and significantly increases mobility. An added advantage to I.C.E. DOWN is it's effectiveness as a lumbar support. The I.C.E. DOWN cold packs are actually thick enough to act as a cushion to provide extra lumbar lordosis while sitting or lying supine."

Click here to get more information on I.C.E. DOWN Cold Therapy Wraps for the Back.