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How to Fix a Thrown Out Back Fast

I throw my back out far too often.  It happened again yesterday as I went to lean over and plug in my blackberry.  That’s all it took.  What really happened is that I got lazy at doing the preventative exercises that I should have been doing, which had actually been working.  So what I’ll do in this post is give you the step-by-step of what I do to get better fast (1-2 days) and then stay better.  As a word of caution – this only applies to folks who throw out their back because of muscle spasms.  If you have a herniated disk or other spine issues, I can’t really be of much help.  I am not a doctor; I am just a guy who has figured out what works for me.

1)  Take some ibuprofen.  I take 4x 200mg three times a day for the first two days.

2)  Fill up a nalgene or other water bottle with boiling water.  Lie on it for 30 minutes right after you throw out your back.  Repeat twice a day for the first two days.

3)  Steps #1 and #2 should get you operational again.  Now for the first two days, avoid sitting up as much as possible.  Lie down as much as you can.

4)  When you aren’t lying down, do the following Egoscue exercise.  There are a lot of different Egoscue exercises, but the one that works best for me is the following – lie on your back at the base of your bed, with your butt against the bed.  Put your calves and feet on top of the bed, so that your back is on the ground, your quadriceps are against the side of the bed and your feet are on top of the bed.  Now lie there for 5 minutes.  Repeat a few times per day for the first two days.

5)  This regimen should get you better in two days.  But more importantly, to keep it from happening again, I recommend doing two exercises for 5 minutes per day plus the Egoscue stance I described in #4.  The first is a sort of extended sit-up which you can do with a pillow (no need to buy the equipment in the video).  The second is a simple hand and leg extension exercise.  The point of both exercises is to strengthen your core, which should keep you from throwing out your back again.

Do 15 of these a day:

 

And 15 of these a day.  This one may look easy, but put a water bottle on the small of your back – it should not move while you do the exercise.  This forces you to “suck in” your stomach and stabilize your body.

 

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5 Comments Post a comment
  1. Steph #

    This was so helpful, thanks a lot!

    July 31, 2012
  2. Thanks for the information. I threw out my back picking up a volleyball. Needless to say, it made playing volleyball very difficult. I’m definitely going to try your steps.

    January 29, 2013
  3. Anonymous #

    Thanks so much for posting your experience with this. I threw out my 50 year old back for the first time. I naturally did your #4 exercise without being told by anyone. When I was in the initial excruciating pain phase, the only thing that I thought would help me was some way to gently “un-spasm” or stretch those muscles in my lower back.

    April 9, 2013
  4. Eric #

    I disagree with tip #2. In the early phases of back pain ice should be applied to keep swelling (and the pain associated with inflammation) to a minimum. Ice constricts your blood vessels and will help prevent swelling from all the blood the body sends to the injured body part.

    A hot water bottle may feel good in the short term, but should really only be used on day 3 and beyond to help with stiffness. Ice is key during the first couple of days of back pain. It won’t loosen up your back like heat does, but it will prevent or reduce swelling whereas heat will actually encourage blood flow to the area and cause more harm than good within the first 48 hours.

    August 24, 2013
  5. Anonymous #

    I agree

    March 8, 2014

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