Back pain? Try this

Self care for back pain

This blog has been inspired by someone I used to teach but is now based far away from me. So what happens when you have back pain and can’t get treatment straight away? In this blog I will give you a few tips that could save you a mountain of pain and discomfort and help you get through until you get professional help.

Before I start I just like to mention that this isn’t a replacement for seeking out medical help nor should it be ignored if symptoms persist, don’t leave it longer than 2 weeks until you see a qualified professional. The tips shown can be used in between treatments unless otherwise recommended by your practitioner. Please feel free to take and reject some of the suggestions given and stop immediately if you feel pain.

1. Pressing on acupoints

If any movement is causing you pain try pressing acupoints before you try moving and very gradually while continuing to press and knead these start to move your back and increase the range of movement within your capacity. Here are a list of acupoints to try:-


On the back of the hand (either one is fine), in the depression felt distant to the junction between the second and third and fourth and fifth metacarpal bone. This point is indicated for acute back pain and strain. Massage the 2 areas of the hand simultaneously while moving the back for 5-10 minutes.

Large intestine 4 (NOT TO BE USED WHEN PREGNANT!)

This point is not specifically used for lower back pain but I decided to include this point as it is a common point used for its analgesic effects. This point is located on the back of the hand, between the first and second metacarpal bone and at the most prominent part of the muscle when thumb is touching the second metacarpal. Press both sides for 5 minutes, pressure should be firm enough to produce tenderness.

Bladder 40

This point is commonly used a long with more local points by acupuncturists and tuina practitioners for back pain. This point is located at the back of the knee at the midpoint of the crease formed when knee is bent. Press and knead both sides for 5 mins.


2. Lying on back, shins on chair

When you are struggling to find a comfortable position to lie in try this. Lie on your back and place your calves on the chair, have your shins parallel to the floor and your knees above your hips. Rest there for as long as you like

3. Fist kneading in back

This technique applies self massage to the area and helps to move and relax muscles . Make a fist and place your knuckles into your lower back. Start making circular motions and experiment with pressure. This can be done through clothing.

4. Fist slide up and down back

This technique brings warmth to the muscles and encourages local circulation to speed up the healing process. Make two fists and place knuckles on either side of spine, begin to slide knuckles up and down back until heat is felt in the lower back.

5. Seated spinal flex

Sit in a comfort upright posture on a chair or on the floor. Keeping shoulders over hips exhale and round the spine, as you inhale arch the spine still keeping shoulders over hips. Continue this movement for 2-3 minutes. This exercises is to help mobilise the spine and warm the muscles either side of spine if other more strenuous stretches are to be attempted. Pressing and kneading acupoints can be done during this exercise.

6. Seated spinal twist

Sit on a chair then turn to face thee right, sit upright and grab the back of the chair then twist to the right looking over your right shoulder. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat on other side. This exercise is to help with rotation of the spine and to increase range of motion.

7. Sphinx pose

This is one I used to practice before I even knew this exercise had a name! This exercise can be helpful for those with with disc problems causing sciatic pain. Lie face down and come up to your forearms, relax the shoulders and hips down and hold for 30 seconds- 2 minutes. Pressing and kneading acupoints can be used here.

8. Lie on back, knees to chest

This is one I liked to use after sphinx pose. Lie on your back and bring knees into chest, start to circle the knees and use the floor to massage your back. Do this for as long as you like!


9. Use liniment

My personal favourite liniment is woodlock which can be found in many Chinese supermarkets or TCM based clinics. Don’t apply this on irritated skin or straight after fist slide on back.

For those of you experiencing lower back pain give this a go and let me know what you think.

2 thoughts on “Back pain? Try this”

Julian Holden

Thanks James. That was really useful. While happily free from back pain, but I do get some aches and the occasional spasm either side of my lower spine after running and I do your points 3) and 4). I’ll try the others now too.

    James Carolan

    That’s great to hear Julian. Please feel free to ask questions and I’ll do my best to offer suggestions through my blog page.

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