10 ways to manage back pain and get some relief

Here are 11 items to help your back feel better in no time. (Getty/File)

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How does this happen? You lean over to pick up your phone and that’s it–that’s all it took for your back to seize up for the weekend.

“Back pain is tricky because people want to blame themselves. However, the view on low back pain now is that it’s more like the common cold,” says Greg Lehman, a physiotherapist, chiropractor, and strength and conditioning specialist based in Toronto who says that 80 per cent of people will get back pain in their lives. “Most people will get it but the question is–will it be persistent and chronic? The key is managing it when you get it.”

Whether it’s managing the pain once you’re hit with it (or if you’re trying to prevent it) there are steps you can take to manage back pain. “The best exercise for low back pain is the one that you actually do,” says Lehman. However it’s always a good idea to see a medical professional first about your pain before getting back to an exercise program.

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And in the meantime, here are some ideas on how to manage–and prevent–that pain.


If your back is ready for a bit of a stretch, this device (that you should start gently with) has 102 points of contact with your back to give the effects of an acupuncture session. It’s also lightweight and portable enough to put in your car or at your desk at work.



“Things like massagers are great for back pain. They’re like taking Tylenol. They can help you feel better at the time, and if it makes you feel better, go for it,” says Lehman. While this device can be used all over your body, your back will thank you given the gun has 20 speed levels, 10 professional massage heads, and is easy to hold. (You may need someone in your household to help apply it though.)


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“To help your back if you love to apply heat, go for heat–if you love cold, go for cold,” says Lehman. This massager feels akin to that wonderful massage chair at your nail salon where you control the heat and pressure. It also has a heat-free option should you want the deep pressure touch only.


If a touch of cool feels better on your back than applying warmth, this medicated patch can be applied to target painful spots. It stays put though you may need to get used to the medicated smell. Bonus: apply these before you sleep to keep the pain at bay.
Lehman says improving your overall health is a good step towards keeping your back in check. “Whatever movement you do can help with low back pain,” he says. Does your movement of choice include walking? If so, make your walks fly by firing up your favourite podcast on your phone which, thanks to this armband, doesn’t need to be in your hands. We also like the zipper pocket on this band to tuck valuables into.
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This manual self-massager looks funny but gets the job done with multiple points to apply as deep a pressure as you like to sore spots. While it looks awkward, its unique design ensures your hands and arms don’t fatigue while you’re treating yourself.
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“Keep maintaining your activities if you have back pain knowing that you’ll probably be sore,” says Lehman. If you’re looking to strengthen your back with some rows or presses, this set of three kettlebells lets you challenge yourself to lift more as you gain strength. Remember too that while sore from working out is good–pain generally isn’t.


If you’re just returning to regular activity post-back injury, these bands will help you stretch your back into regular movement again. You’ll also appreciate the color coding of the bands that correspond to the resistance levels: pink is light, purple is medium and blue is heavy. They’re also light enough to toss into a purse or bag for travel.
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The Magic Bag is an old-school product that is still beloved–pop it into your microwave to apply heat to painful areas or leave it in your fridge for a cooling effect. The bag is flexible meaning it’ll fit better on your back than perhaps a traditional ice pack or heating pad.


Maybe now that you’re up and moving again, you’re looking to improve your core muscles a bit. Inflate one of these to sit on at work or while watching Fallout to help improve your stability. With a 2,000 lb. capacity–don’t worry, it won’t burst!
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