Throw Out Your Back? 8 Tips to Help You Recover : Exclusive Renegade Health Article

Saturday Aug 30 | BY |
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When you “throw out” your back, it may feel like it,
but usually nothing has actually moved out of place.

According to the American Chiropractic Association, one-half of all working Americans admit to having symptoms of back pain each year. It’s the second most common reason for visits to the doctor’s office (second only to respiratory infections), and costs Americans $50 billion annually.

Fortunately, most cases of back pain are not caused by serious conditions like fractures or arthritis or infections. You’ve probably experienced the sharp, piercing pain of “throwing out” your back, perhaps followed by that sense that you better not move—not even an inch! What is it, exactly, that happens, and what’s the best thing to do about it?

What Happens When You “Throw Out” Your Back
Most of the time, when this happens, you’re not actually “throwing out” anything. There are no bones or discs moving from their regular position, so there’s nothing to “get back in.” Instead, what you’re experiencing is an injury to a muscle or ligament—much like a sprained ankle. More rarely, it can be a ruptured disc—a condition in which the spongy disc between the vertebrae of the spine suffers a tear, and the gel-like fluid inside may leak out. Even in this situation, the pain most often goes away within 4-6 weeks.

More rare cases involve tumors or infections, but this makes up less than one percent of back problems. The majority of the time, the muscles and tissues are reacting to a certain movement. Usually it happens when you bend over, or go to lift something. Even more often, you’ve been sitting for a long time, you’ve failed to exercise regularly, you’ve overused your back muscles recently, or you engaged in some activity you weren’t used to, so your back muscles were stiff to begin with, and more likely to become injured.

The bad news is that once you’ve injured those tissues, you’re going to have a scar there, which will harden and stiffen and make it more likely that you’ll injure the area again. That’s why many people “throw out” their backs in the same place several times, or believe they have a “bad back.”

What to Do When it Happens?
In those first few painful moments, you may feel like panicking. After all, you can’t move! Just take a deep breath and realize that you’re most likely not in any serious danger.

  1. Rest for a moment. You’re not going to want to move. That’s okay. Just lie down however you can and rest, letting your muscles gradually relax.
  2. Get the ice. Injury=inflammation. An ice pack or bag of frozen veggies will tone down the swelling, and when you remove it, will increase blood flow in a way that helps the tissues heal. Go for 20 minutes at a time.
  3. Try herbs. Good ones to reduce inflammation include ginkgo, saw palmetto, rosemary, and bromelain. Good ones for relaxing muscles include chamomile, angelica, black haw, cramp bark, and celery seed.
  4. Stay hydrated. Water helps hydrate your disks and flushes toxins from the injury out of your system.
  5. Slowly start to move again as you can. Try bringing your knees into your chest to gently stretch out the injured area.
  6. Continue to take it easy for the first twenty-four hours. You should start to feel some easing of the pain now, and some renewed ability to move. If you feel sharp pain down your leg, or have bowel problems, get to your doctor as soon as you can.
  7. The next day, start alternating ice with heat (20 minutes at a time) to increase blood flow and return flexibility to your muscles.
  8. Start increasing your movements. (Bed rest is not typically recommended.) Perform regular gentle stretches, such as pulling the knees into the chest and bending forward from the waist while keeping the legs relatively straight. See Annmarie’s stretches for back pain here. Let your body tell you how much it can tolerate, and move slowly and easily, gradually increasing your range of motion.

If you’re still unable to move much after 48 hours, do check with your doctor. In most cases, however, the combination of steps listed above will bring you gradual relief. After the first 48 hours, continue to gradually increase your movements, but give yourself 2–4 weeks to fully recover.

Prevent It in the First Place
The best way to protect your back is to take the steps that will prevent injury in the first place. This can be difficult in our modern world, where so many of us are stuck in cubicles or offices or vehicles for much of the day. Try these tips, and let us know if you have more:

  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Exercise regularly
  • Warm up or stretch before exercise, and before other activities like gardening or cleaning
  • Wear comfortable, low-heeled shoes
  • Always use your knees when lifting, and keep your back straight
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Get a supportive mattress
  • Ease in and out of your car, and make frequent stops to get out and walk on long drives; you can also adjust your seat several times along the way to prevent your spine from being locked in one position
  • Perform back strengthening stretches and exercises at least 2-3 times a week
  • Work on your core abdominal muscles—Pilates is great for this—as strong core muscles protect and support your back
  • Try not to slouch when sitting or standing—stand tall with your head up and shoulders back
  • Make sure you’re getting enough calcium and vitamin D each day
  • If you work in an office, get up for at least 10 minutes every hour, walk around, and stretch; also try to make your office as back-friendly as possible with a good chair and comfortable keyboard position
  • Try yoga or tai chi, particularly if you carry your stress in your back or your shoulders

Have you thrown out your back? What did you do?

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Photo courtesy eddie gittins via


“Back Pain Facts & Statistics,” American Chiropractic Association,

Kevin Gianni

Kevin Gianni is a health author, activist and blogger. He started seriously researching personal and preventative natural health therapies in 2002 when he was struck with the reality that cancer ran deep in his family and if he didn’t change the way he was living — he might go down that same path. Since then, he’s written and edited 6 books on the subject of natural health, diet and fitness. During this time, he’s constantly been humbled by what experts claim they know and what actually is true. This has led him to experiment with many diets and protocols — including vegan, raw food, fasting, medical treatments and more — to find out what is myth and what really works in the real world.

Kevin has also traveled around the world searching for the best protocols, foods, medicines and clinics around and bringing them to the readers of his blog — which is one of the most widely read natural health blogs in the world with hundreds of thousands of visitors a month from over 150 countries around the world.


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  1. Miriam says:

    Very helful information. I threw my back out this morning and panicked a bit, now I know what to do. Thanks!

  2. Arianne says:

    Thanks!!!! I threw my back out THREE TIMES in the past six mobths..These tips have been VEDY HELPFUL!!! Especially the herbs, rest & water intake. God Bless!

  3. Always try to kneel for bottom close to floor shelves and never attempt to dog walk it or use your hands, I did this myselfleft me stinging and hurting, hope I can allow 24 hrs Before checking with a doctor

  4. deb says:

    I used to have chronic back pain. I tried traditional chiropractic – to no avail.
    Then I met a chiropractor who uses biogeometric integration (BGI). Wow. This energy-based approach is fabulous for me. I can even shovel snow and not get a backache.

    Make sure that you balance your calcium with magnesium. Magnesium deficiency is very common, and can cause muscle spasms.

  5. As a commercial truck driver for over 25 years, I’ve had my share of back pain. Since I sit for sometimes hours at a time, I stiffen up. I found a website. that has some great free videos that help with lots of back issues. The stretches really do relieve the pain. I know that I have spent thousands of dollars over the years, but now go to my chiropractor about four times a year for a tune up. When I feel my back getting tight, I turn on the radio and sort of dance in the seat, moving my torso side to side and front to back using pelvic tilts in the sitting position. It loosens up quickly. This sure has saved me a lot of pain.

  6. Liz says:

    I’ve thrown my back out a few times. – Homoeopathics arnica, bellis perennis and rhus tox straight away and the relaxing and gentle movement that you recommend Kevin, and deep breathing into the painful area, and then bowen therapy when I can move enough to get to my therapist, and I’m good again very soon. Plus I do most of your preventative tips Kevin, except for the pilates, which I should, I know, and keep meaning to but somehow never get around to:-)


  7. Nancy says:

    Number 8 includes “See Annmarie’s stretches for back pain here.” Where can I see her stretches? Nancy

  8. Neil says:

    Quality swiss balls are one of the best tools someone can use to either maintain a healthy back or prevent back issues. They are also brilliant for exercise, as a seat, pregnancy, neurological disorders and even high performance training for athletes/ gymnasts/ circus performers. Should i quietly mention that i have some guinness world records with the swiss ball, and have been a fitness pro for many years.

  9. This is my experience and not necessarily what could work, or maybe it could. I lifted some heavy objects, eg, refrigerator. A few days later I had pain in my back and needed to be lifted onto the bed. At first I could hardly move myself in bed because of the pain. But I decided I wasn’t going to take pain killers. I fasted for 4 days and as each day passed, my pain became less and less. On the 4th day I started to feel better and I started walking my first steps. Each day I improved and went to physiotherapy. I am ok now. This happened years ago.

  10. Aaron Mann says:

    Many years ago, I had terrible back pain to where I could barely walk and my body was bent over to one side. A chiropractor showed me that it wasn’t my back that was the problem, it was that my buttock and hamstring muscles were so tight that they threw my back out. He showed me some daily stretches for my buttocks and hamstrings, and I’ve been fine ever since. The stretches I had been doing for my back were helpful, but weren’t addressing the real issue. Also, for sciatica, the Thompson Maneuver which brings the brings the sacroiliac joints into their proper position can be very helpful. Instead of in a chair, I do it while lying on my back.

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