Alert
Close

Take AARP’s Smart Driver course and you could save money on your car insurance. Learn more

HIGHLIGHTS

Close

2014 NATIONAL EVENT

Health & Wellness
AARP Auto Buying Program

Download the ipad App

AARP-iPad-ePub-app

DRIVER SAFETY

Piggy bank on the road - AARP Driver Safety

Take the new AARP Smart Driver Course!

Contests and
Sweeps

Safe Driving in 2014 Sweepstakes

Learn how AARP Driver Safety can help you stay safe—and enter for a chance to win $1,000. See official rules. 

KEEP BRAIN ACTIVE!

AARP Games - Play Now!

AARP BOOKS

Planning for Long-Term Care for Dummies

Get expert advice on planning for your own or a relative’s future care needs.

Webinars

Learn From the Experts

Sign up now for an upcoming webinar or find materials from a past session.

Learning centers

Get smart strategies for managing health conditions.

 

Arthritis

Heart Disease

Diabetes

Most Popular

Viewed

share your thoughts

What does the health care law mean to you? Your story is important. We read and learn from every story and it helps us in our educational efforts. We may even use your comments (with permission) to brief legislators, inspire readers and more. Please share your story with us. Do

13 Ways to Beat Back Pain

Check out these low-cost, drug-free remedies

  • Find your comfort zone. "The first thing to ask about exercise is what can you tolerate, what makes you feel comfortable?" says Silver. "Swimming and biking are good because they decrease stress on the spine, unlike running or playing tennis." The more uncontrolled the movements — sudden stops and twists in tennis, for example — the more stress on the spine. "But you can't categorically talk about exercising for back pain," says Silver. "Pay attention to what helps and avoid what hurts."
Even something as simple as deep breathing can reduce the release of stress-related hormones like cortisol and help you relax.
  • Stay flexible. Yoga, Pilates and tai chi, a gentle form of martial arts, strengthen core muscles that support the spine and also increase flexibility, says Silver: "Decreased flexibility can throw your back out of alignment, causing pain." According to a 2011 Australian study of tai chi, 18 forty-minute sessions over 10 weeks reduced troubling back symptoms by almost 20 percent and pain by 13 percent. And a 2011 study at the University of Washington found that yoga reduced back pain, although no more than other stretching exercises.
  • Practice relaxation. Anything that lessens stress is also likely to tamp down pain, says Perlman. Even something as simple as deep breathing — focusing on the breath coming in and out — can reduce the release of stress-related hormones like cortisol and help you relax. Meditation, progressive muscle relaxation and biofeedback all accomplish much the same thing. According to a small 2009 University of Pittsburgh study, 81 percent of adults 65 and older with back pain who meditated one-half hour a day five days a week for four months felt their pain and daily function had significantly improved.  
  • Overhaul your posture. Poor posture strains your spine and puts added pressure on the nerves. Ideally, keep a slight inward curve in your lower back and at your neck, and an outward curve in your upper back, says Silver. She suggests asking someone to photograph you at your desk or doing household tasks. Share the photos with a doctor or physical therapist who can address posture problems.
  • Opt for massage. Therapeutic massage is relaxing, increases blood flow and may lessen inflammation, says Perlman: "Start with a weekly massage for a month to see if it makes a difference." In a 2006 study by Perlman and his colleagues, massage for knee arthritis lessened pain and benefits lasted at least eight weeks.

Next: Try an anti-fatigue mat to reduce stress on your spine. >>

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts

Processing

Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.

Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

Woman trying on glasses in optometrists shop

Members save up to 60% on eye exams and 30% on glasses at JCPenney Optical.

Prescription medication spilling out of bottle

Members get a free Rx card from AARP® Prescription Discounts provided by Catamaran.

AngiesList

Members can save 25% to 45% on their Angie's List membership.

Caregiving walking

Caregiving can be a lonely journey, but AARP offers resources that can help.