There are no shortage of products out there promising “instant relief!” or easy cures to back pain. Many are a complete waste of money. However, there are some products that are tested, documented and in many cases scientifically proven to help lower back pain sufferers. I’ve shared those here, along with recommendations and tips.
But first, two quick reminders:
- The best thing you can do for your spine and lower back health is stretching and exercise, building up those lower back muscles to help support your body weight and reinforce your spine for long-term relief and pain prevention.
- Consistency is key. No matter what you buy to help your lower back pain, it will only work if you use it consistently. There are no miracle cures.
Now, to the back pain relief products!
Low-Impact Aerobic Exercise Equipment
Treadmills & Elliptical Machines
I’ve got a dirty little secret: Even though I consider myself an athlete, I hate going to crowded, busy gyms. I’d much rather get my workouts in at home, where I can focus clearly and never have to wait in line. So when I was suffering through my lower back pain, I started looking into equipment I could use at home, and found a few great, proven options:
A recent study published in the Clinical Rehabilitation journal found that walking could help ease lower back pain. If you’re like me and you like working out at home, want to watch a show while you work out – or you just want to avoid inclement weather, treadmills and elliptical machines are a great option.
These are higher impact than the other options on this list, but still a good option if you’re hoping to walk or jog. Better yet, treadmills keep getting more and more affordable for home purchase, so it’s one piece of equipment that won’t empty your wallet.
These machines are even lower impact than a treadmill – perfect for those who are overweight or suffer from joint-related pain and want to minimize the risk of injury while improving your overall fitness, strengthening your back and shedding a few pounds.
Key things to look for in treadmills and elliptical machines:
- A large, easy-to-read digital readout You’ll want to be able to see how many calories you’ve burned how far you’ve travelled and what’s coming next at a glance.
- Safety features It’s a good idea to have emergency stops – like safety belts – and it’s also helpful to have handrails and grips that are easy to reach, but not obtrusive when you try to work out. The machine should also come to a slow and gentle stop – not an abrupt or jolting one.
- Pre-set & custom programs Variety is the spice of life, and it’s nice to be able to switch it up or customize your own walking and running programs to push yourself to that next level of fitness.
- Heart rate monitoring Some would call this feature optional – but it’s such a great thing to have, especially if you’re trying to lose weight to take pressure off your spine. Hitting your target heart rate means you’re more likely to lose weight and get a good exercise in.
- Warranty While we all hope the things we buy will last forever, a warranty will give you peace of mind knowing the machine is covered, no matter how hard you work it!
Some recommended brands
A few places you can start your research, based on online reviews, emails from my readers and my own personal experience :
- ProForm. Proform is leading the fitness equipment industry for 30+ years. Polled by consumers as one of the most recognized fitness brand. Wide range different treadmills and elliptical machines with multiple features.
- Sole Fitness. SOLE has been providing exercise equipment to North America for decades. SOLE is a premier name in fitness and has been the fastest growing brand in the US and Canada the last 5 years and counting. There are wide range of treadmills and elliptical machines in Amazon. Read also product reviews. Those are providing very practical overview of the products.
- Schwinn. It’s an American icon, and a leading brand of bicycles, recreation products, and home and commercial fitness equipment. The brand is on the forefront of advances in fitness technology, and has been an indispensable player in revolutionizing bicycling and fitness around the world. Price range is lower than Proform or Sole Fitness have.
Rowing Machines & Stationary Bikes
This is a big favorite of mine – and for good reason! When rowing, 84% of your musculature is used – making it a low-impact exercise that actually strengthens your lower back, legs, and more as you burn calories and – if you’re trying to – lose weight, taking pressure off your spine.
For rowing machines and ergometers, I recommend :
- Concept2 a leading figure in the fitness and training industry. Indeed, this company is reputed for its excellent craftsmanship and strong, reliable parts that are often designed to last a lifetime. Most popular model is Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine. I use this model on daily bases. In my opinion it is the best rower I have ever used. The quality is excellent, it is quiet, easy to put together, easy to read monitor and this rower includes a Personal Monitor which displays a plethora of comparable and accurate information, hence allowing users to keep a close watch on their progress.
- Stamina costumers get cutting edge innovation and quality equipment with and affordable price tag. My recommendation would be Stamina Air Rower 1399 – good machine for a good price.
- Velocity provides quality home exercise equipment. Velocity also provides budget-friendly machines without ever compromising on quality. I recommend Velocity Exercise Magnetic Rower. It is the best deal for quality with price consideration. The Velocity CHR-2001 is so easy to use that it’s recommended for beginners.
Exercise bikes offer a great low-stress workout that doesn’t put much pressure on your joints while still allowing you a strong range of motion and giving you the ability to get your heart rate up. Biking also helps strengthen the muscles in your back and keep your spine healthy, while improving muscle strength in your hamstrings and things.
This exercise is particularly good for those with osteoarthritis or anyone whose back pain is most manageable when flexed forward. Best of all, a study presented by Martin Hoffman, M.D. to the American College of Sports Medicine in 2000 showed that riding an exercise bike helped reduce the discomfort of patients suffering from chronic low back pain.
Some brands I’ve tested out and that have received fantastic online reviews include:
- I highly recommend model Schwinn 170. It is probably one of the best upright exercise bikes on the market. Schwinn 170 has 25 resistance levels and 29 different programs. Good thing is that, although Schwinn 170 is high class model, price is still affordable compared to other models. You can also pay attention to models Schwinn 130 and Schwinn A10. Those are budget friendly upright bikes with quality equipment.
- One high quality product at a decent price is Exerpeutic Folding Magnetic Upright Bike with Pulse. It is very comfortable because the space-saver design allows the bike to fold for storage and can moved with the included transportation wheels. The bike will fold to at least ½ the size as when fully assembled.
- Proform and Sunny Health & Fitness bikes have also fantastic reviews.
Your mattress is the most important piece of furniture in your house when it comes to your lower back pain. That’s because the average person spends 1/3rd of their life sleeping – time that takes a serious toll on your body when your spine is held in an unnatural or unsupported positions for 6+ hours a night.
Studies also prove your mattress matters for lower back pain!
- A 2006 study found a clear link between poor mattress quality and low-quality, uncomfortable mattresses.
- A 2010 study at Oklahoma State University found that chronic lower back pain sufferers saw significant pain relief when they switched to medium-firm foam-surfaced mattresses tailored to their personal sleeping positions.
- A 2009 study from Oklahoma State also found that new bedding systems increase sleep quality while reducing back discomfort.
- A 2003 controlled-blind study saw that chronic, non-specific lower back pain patients with medium-firm mattresses had better outcomes for pain in bed, pain on rising and disability than those with VERY firm mattresses.
- 95% of orthopedic surgeons in one survey said they believed a mattress plays a role in lower back pain management.
Now, I get it – a mattress isn’t a cheap investment. But since we spend so much time sleeping, it’s one of the most impactful things you can possibly do for not only your lower back pain, but your health – period! By investing in a better mattress, you’ll do more than just alleviate your back pain. You’ll also…
- Improve your thinking and memory (Study)
- Aiding weight loss and reducing your chance of overeating (Study)
- Reduce stress (which reduces your risk of disease (Study)
- Brighten your mood (Source)
- Decreasing overall pain and discomfort (Study)
It’s an investment in your own health.
When should I replace my old Mattress?
It’s pretty simple: If your mattress is uncomfortable, if your sleep quality is poor, or if you haven’t replaced your mattress in 8 years, it’s time. The materials in your mattress break down, sag and get worn out over time; losing their support and comfort along the way and putting strain on your spine by leaving it resting in an unnatural position.
What’s the best mattress for lower back pain?
In studies by SleepLikeTheDead.com, memory foam, air and latex mattresses rate highest in owner satisfaction; innerspring rate the worst. In these studies, owner satisfaction for Memory Foam (80%), Latex (79%) and Air (78%) was highest among all the different types. Now, you could go read HOURS on this subject on another site, but I’ve done that for you and distilled everything I’ve learned down into a few simple guidelines and top recommendations:
- Firmer does NOT always mean better. Studies prove it (A study cited by Harvard found that, in a survey of 268 people in a waiting room, those who slept on a very hard “orthopedic” mattress had the worst sleep quality) and users report it – if your mattress is TOO firm, you can actually make your sleep, and your pain, worse.
- Comfort is goal #1. Before you get too hung up on firmness, know that comfort is subjective. Yes, a medium-firm or firm mattress does offer superior support to a dented, saggy or very soft mattress (as proven here) – but what’s most important is how it feels to YOU.
For that reason, it makes sense to test out different mattresses in addition to reading reliable reviews – and most mattresses come with a return policy, so you can try them out for a few days and make sure it’s a good fit.
- Price does not always equal comfort or quality, but… You should still try the most expensive mattresses first. No, I’m not saying BUY the most expensive mattress, but test them out as a reference point to see how much you like the lower priced models.
Remember – it’s about comfort and longevity. The cheapest mattress is probably a bad idea, but there’s no reason to spend 5-figures on a mattress unless it really IS the most comfortable.
- It takes a while to adjust to a new mattress, so don’t write it off right away. Studies show it can take you a bit to adjust to a new sleeping surface – so don’t feel buyer’s remorse just yet if you’ve recently purchased.
Criteria to Look For
- Personal Comfort – We’ve already covered this at length!
- Reputation & Reviews – read some reviews to see how others like the mattress you’re considering, and know that the company is reputable.
- Warranty & Exchange Policy – Make sure there’s a warranty on the mattress, including knowing the lifespan.
Based on all of these criteria, including consumer surveys, research studies and online reviews, I recommend the following mattress brands for those suffering lower back pain :
- Casper. What makes Casper mattress unique? Latex foam, which provides support, cooling and bounce. Memory foam – which provides support and comfort. Support foam – which props up your body so you don’t sink into the bed completely. Good thing is that Casper offers Trial Period – it means zero risk, 100 night trial of their mattress! That means if the Casper isn’t perfect for any reason, they’ll send a courier to pick up the mattress and refund you 100%. Casper offers top-class mattress with affordable price. Read more www.Casper.com.
- Sleep Innovations. Lot of positive reviews has Sleep Innovations 12-Inch SureTemp Memory Foam Mattress 20-Year Warranty. There are almost 3000 reviews in Amazon! What makes Sure Temp memory foam Unique? SureTemp comfort layer adjusts to you to provide therapeutic support exactly where you need it. Relief from pressure points that cause mid-sleep awakenings. Provides proper spinal alignment. Dust mite and allergen resistant memory foam. No mattress flipping required.
- Saatva is America`s best priced luxury mattress. They proudly announce that they are the best reviewed mattress brand on Google in 2015. You can read more www.saatvamattress.com.
Ergonomic Office Chairs
If your mattress is the most important piece of furniture in your house, your office chair is your most important piece of furniture at work. Most of us spend at least 8 hours on the job – much of that sitting down. Poor posture like slouching, hunching or leaning forward throws your spine out of alignment, causing pain or making your existing back pain worse. The quality of your office chair will affect how productive you are, how focused you can be – and, most importantly, your health. That means that while an office chair may not be a cheap investment, it’s worth budgeting for if you value your long-term lower back health.
What to look for in an ergonomic office chair (with some help from LifeHacker):
- Ability to Recline: Your chair should be able to recline; this enables you to reach your keyboard without straining yourself and reduces the pressure on your spine.
- Adjustable Depth: You should be able to fit 3 – 4 fingers between your knees and the edge of your seat. If you can’t, you could be cutting off circulation – and if you can fit too many, you’re probably learning too far forward, straining your back and legs.
- Adjustable Height: Your feet should be able to sit firmly planted on the floor, with your thighs parallel to the ground. Your forearms should be parallel to your desk. Too high and you’re putting too much pressure on the area behind your knee; too low and your knees are higher than your hips, causing pressure to shift incorrectly.
- Armrests: These should support your arms while at rest. Adjustable armrests are best, as these allow you to get closer to your work. Your arms should be parallel to the floor when you’re typing or using your mouse.
- Lumbar Support: This is a biggie for lower back problems, and will make an enormous difference. Your back should be able to sit comfortable against the lumbar support without slouching or leaning. Look for lumbar support systems where you can control the firmness and position and customize it to your body.
Some of the most trusted brands in ergonomic office chairs include Herman Miller and Ergohuman.
- Probably one of the most famous office chair in the world is Herman Miller Aeron. No other office chair works harder to relieve your back and neck pain than the Aeron chair. Every material, every mechanism on Aeron advances the art and science of seating. As the first office chair in which fabric and foam were replaced with a breathable, woven suspension membrane—its innovative Pellicle seat and back—Aeron distributes your weight evenly, eliminating pressure points and heat buildup.
- Raynor Ergohuman. This model is specifically intended for those who will be in their chairfor more than 8 hours a day. It has the capability of being easy to adjust when it comes to the arm rest, the headrest and rocker extension. Ergohuman also features a slightly wider seat pan than most other chairs. It would be good pick!
Honestly, you can’t go wrong with any of these, but if it helps, take a trip to a local store before buying online to give the chair a test run. After all, you’ll be sitting in it for hours – you want to be sure it’s comfortable!
You might laugh – but virtually everyone I’ve ever met who has had a massage has LOVED the experience. Massage increases the blood flow to your lower back muscles, bringing more nutrients their way to be absorbed by the injured ligaments and tissues who need it most. Massage also loosens up your tight muscles, allowing them to relax and restoring flexibility – and best of all, massage releases endorphins that make you feel oh-so-good. It’s not just about luxurious comfort (though that’s a serious plus) – a study by the Annals of Internal Medicine found that those suffering from chronic lower back pain reported less pain after just 10 weeks if they got a massage than those who didn’t.
Aren’t massage chairs… well, expensive?
I won’t pretend that a massage chair isn’t a luxury item for a lot of people – but like a mattress or office chair, this is an investment in your overall health, not just your enjoyment. Consider, too, the costs for professional massage: It’s not uncommon for a single session to cost $80 or more. 10 weeks of twice-a-week sessions would already cost you $1,600 – and while relief may come, you’ll have to keep paying for massage to sustain it. A massage chair can help give you ongoing relief from lower back pain in a cost-effective way, or even as a supplement to physical therapy and massage.
What think about when buying a massage chair:
- Space considerations – Massage chairs take up a fair amount of room, so before you buy, be sure you’ve got the space for it.
- Massage strength & comfort – Sounds obvious, but you should probably try out a chair to make sure you like how it feels and that you can actually feel the massage happening. There’s nothing worse in a massage chair than a wimpy massage.
- Adjustability and pre-sets – Make sure that you can adjust the chair for your height, weight and desired massage levels. Customizable programs are a huge plus – just sit down and enjoy exactly the massage you want, instead of a factory default.
- Motor – The motors in your chair will be responsible for all the massaging, so you need to know where they were made (the highest quality motors come from Japan) and how many there are (the more, the better – typically).
- Warranty – When you’re making a purchase like this, you need to be confident that if something goes wrong, you’re covered. Read into the details on the warranty to see what is covered and what the replacement process is to avoid getting burned.
- Price – Yes, this is a purchase you will need to budget for. Check around to make sure you’re getting the best price and that the price justifies the quality you’re about to receive.
My recommended massage chairs and massage chair brands
- Massage chair is expensive and luxury item therefore I can recommend you only the best. According to many reviews is a best massage chair in the market Inada Dreamwave Massage Chair. I have tried this and like I mentioned in one of my previous article it felt AMAZING! Previous generation model was Sogno DreamWave but it was discontinued in 2014. But it still is available at Amazon for discounted price!
- Inada is Japanese brand. Note that the premium massage chair market is dominated by Japanese-owned and operated manufacturers. Anyone seriously interested in quality should focus their attention on Japanese massage chair brands. I could write forever how amazing this chair is and how many different innovative features this chair offers but best feedback you get from those who are using this chair on daily bases. Therefore I recommend to read Amazon reviews. If you can afford it, go for it!! It will be one of the best purchases you have made.
- Good quality item with affordable price is Full Body Shiatsu Massage Chair Recliner w/Heat Stretched Foot Rest 06C. It is much cheaper than Inada. Just like Inada it offers complete full body massage with foot and neck capabilities. There are more than 100 users who have reviewed it in Amazon and giving 4,5 out of 5 star ranking. Is this as good as the Inada Chair? Of course not. But this one is probably 60-70% as good for only one-eighth the cost which is why I believe this is the best massage chair you can get at its price point.
Turn lower back pain on its head – literally! The decompression and circulation changes that come with inversion help to take the pressure of gravity off your joints and spine for a short while, and are a great means of treating acute instances of back pain.
- Studies suggest that even a mere 25 degrees of inversion for just a couple of minutes every day can have positive effects on back pain.
- Inversion therapy has been shown to reduce headaches, improve circulation and even assist with neck pain. Another study by physiotherapist L.J. Nosse found that muscle tension was reduced by 35% within 10 seconds of inversion.
I’ve shared some tips for using an inversion table properly in my “Lower Back Pain Treatment & Cures” page , but here, I want to focus on 5 key criteria to consider when buying an inversion table:
- Safety It should go without saying, but your table needs to be able to support your weight safely and hold you securely through adequate and intelligent design. Look for steel frames, floor stabilizers, ankle locks and vinyl side covers to keep your fingers from being pinched between the table’s bars while inverting.
- Comfort Whether it’s an inversion table or an inversion chair (more ideal for those with reduced mobility, or for more aged users), you need to be completely comfortable laying down or sitting. Look for tables with adequate padding and inversion systems that do not pinch or hurt your ankles or knees.
- Size While a larger table may feel more secure and durable, your table needs to be able to fit into the space you’ve got available. It’s a smart idea to measure your space before making a purchase.
Note that some inversion tables fold up and are more easily stored. While most of these are perfectly fine for purchase, read some reviews to make sure stability isn’t compromised.
- Controlled, Smooth Inversion No matter what brand you buy, your table should come with features that empower you to pre-set the amount of inversion desired and lock it firmly in place to avoid complete inversion or unexpected drops.
You will need to work your way up to 90 degree inversion gradually (as per my use guide in the Cures and Treatments page ), so this feature is non-negotiable.
- Price While there’s no need to break the bank, a quality table that is comfortable, safe and space-efficient is worth the investment. Remember: You’re investing in your own well-being, so don’t go cheap just to save a few bucks. Look for a balance between quality and cost – but never compromise on safety.
My recommended inversion table brand is Ironman.
One of the most popular model is Ironman Gravity 4000 Inversion Table. You can find about that table lot of positive reviews from the web. For example in Amazon you can find more than 2000 reviews. Ironman products are always made from the finest materials, and each one of their products is lab tested to ensure that our equipment performs at optimum levels—every time. Ironman Gravity 4000 Inversion Table is awesome for your lower back pain issues!
IMPORTANT: While inversion therapy is perfectly safe and beneficial for most people, you should NOT try inversion therapy if you suffer from high blood pressure, glaucoma or heart disease, as inversion can lead to further problems in these cases.
Seat Cushions & Lumbar Pillows
Whether it’s a family road trip or just sitting in traffic on your daily commute, a seat cushion can be a relatively inexpensive way to add comfort, improve your posture and reduce back pain while on the road or even just sitting in your office or at the dinner table. They’re incredibly easy to use – just place in the proper area, sit down and get comfortable. I’ve seen a huge variety, from memory foam (which I liked, but they do get a bit hot) to bamboo (very eco-friendly!) and poly foam – and honestly, it all just comes down to preference. I found some of the cheaper models just as comfortable as the most expensive – so it all comes down to what you like.