1. See a physician. (You did not think I would say otherwise?) Even if your back pain does not originate in the spine, you do need to rule out medical causes.
2. Lose weight. This is probably the best thing you can do to eliminate back pain. Excess weight (especially in the stomach) puts stress on the spine.
3. Exercise. Exercise, especially aerobic exercise, is a proven way to reduce lower back pain.
4. Fix your posture. Poor posture, especially the common forward head position most of us have, will put repeated stress on the spine.
This is why crunches are not effective in alleviating back pain; they only increase this rounding of the neck and spine. It takes a great deal of work to improve posture; you may need to see a specialist to get the help you need. http://www.npionline.org/
5. Check out your feet. If you have foot problems, orthotics may be the answer to the pain in your back. If you are in the NYC area, I highly recommend Dr. L. Weisenfeld (212) 947-2320.
6. Do not do any back exercises without an assessment first. A Corrective Exercise Specialist (http://www.nasm.org/prevent/) will help determine which areas of your body need to be stretched or strengthened to help correct an imbalance.
7. Try the 90/90 position. Lie on your back with your legs bent on a chair so that your hips and knees are at a 90-degree angle.
If you are in acute pain, this position can be very relaxing. However, make sure you do not stay still too long…
8. Move. Bed rest is no longer recommended for back pain. Almost any type of movement will help.
9. Get rid of your cherished exercises. Clients have told me “I’ve done these exercises for 20 years.” Well, if your back has not improved in 20 years, maybe you should be trying different exercises.
10. Realize that your back pain may not be caused by a problem in the back. Read Anatomy Trains by Thomas Meyers. This amazing book shows how interconnected our body is. It will help you see how a tight calf muscle can cause neck pain. Our body functions as a unit, an imbalance in one spot can greatly affect another. If you have pain, find a professional who will help you discover and treat the true cause of the pain.