Low back strains occur when the back muscles are overstretched or torn as a result of a sudden or unusual movement or excessive load; the area becomes inflamed and painful. But here’s the good news — these injuries usually heal on their own within a month or so. Typical self-care includes icing the painful area for 2-3 days to help reduce swelling, and then switching to heat to improve circulation and help relax muscle spasms. Your doctor may also recommend over-the-counter or prescription medication.
Bed rest beyond 1-2 days isn’t recommended; it can make things worse by weakening your muscles. Resume normal activities as soon as you can, but avoid any specific activities that triggered the strain.
If your pain is severe and doesn’t improve after a few days of self-care measures, talk to your doctor. Further evaluation may be warranted to rule out more serious problems; and physical therapy may be recommended.
After you’ve recovered from your low back strain, consider seeking advice from a certified fitness professional. A personalized exercise program can improve your overall strength and cardiovascular fitness, boost core stability and endurance, and reduce your chances of suffering another back injury.