“How should I lay with lower back pain?” This is always one of the first questions people ask following a lower back injury.

We have a natural inclination to want to take the pressure off our lower backs to help the muscles and joints relax, encouraging faster healing. The best way to do that, of course, is to lie down in bed.

But what if I told you that wasn’t the best way to speed up healing?

Below, we’re going to answer the question “How should I lay with lower back pain?” and explain the best positions for both daytime bed rest and nighttime sleep.

But first, we’ll take a look at the best options for accelerating lower back injury healing—and it’s not lying down!

How Should I Lay with Lower Back Pain? Walk First!

In the hour immediately following an injury to your spinal joints or muscles, you SHOULD NOT lie down. Let me repeat that again: DO NOT LIE DOWN.

Why is that?

You see, right after the injury, your body’s inflammatory response is kicking in, sending signals to the injured area to swell up to protect against further damage. The swelling will cause your back to grow stiff and increase the pain. When you get out of bed a few hours later, you’ll find that you have a hard time moving, and even the tiniest movements cause pain.

The best thing you can do right after a lower back injury is:

Step 1: Apply ice. The faster you can apply ice, the more effectively you can prevent the inflammatory response from kicking in.

Step 2: Take an anti-inflammatory. Pop an Advil or aspirin, something to keep the inflammation at bay.

Step 3: Use hot/cold treatment. Switch off ice packs and hot compresses every 15-20 minutes for the first hour or two following a back injury, and you’ll prevent swelling, stiffness, and pain, ultimately speeding up recovery.

Step 4: Go for a walk. This is an absolutely critical step! Once you’ve halted the inflammation (as best you can—there will always be some swelling and pain), go for a 20-30 minute walk at a slow pace on preferably level terrain. Find a park or trail that is as flat as possible, and walk for half an hour. Not only will this flood your body with pain-killing, feel-good endorphins, but it will increase blood flow to the injured area and accelerate healing. Plus, the exercise will strengthen your muscles and help to re-align your spine.

Seriously, just half an hour of walking right after a back injury will make a huge difference in your recovery. Do it twice a day every day, and you’ll be back on your feet far faster than if you spent all your time in bed rest.

How Should I Lay With Lower Back Pain? The Best Resting and Sleeping Positions

Of course, you will need to spend some time in bed rest. Your daily activities will be limited while you’re giving your back time to recover, so you’ll probably be less active and end up relaxing more.

A firm, supportive mattress is the best place to spend your time resting—far better than the couch or your favorite armchair. Lying down takes the pressure off your back, allowing for better blood flow and letting the muscles fully relax.

Now we get to the question “How should I lay with lower back pain?”

The answer is typically: on your back.

Lying on your back is ideal for letting the spinal muscles fully relax, taking all the strain off the injured area. Prop your head up on a couple of pillows to improve circulation, and consider placing a pillow beneath your knees to improve spinal alignment.

After a while, you may find that your back starts to ache after lying down on your back for so long. Consider turning onto your sides for a little while. Just make sure to put a pillow between your legs (and possibly one in front of your chest if you have broad shoulders) to ensure proper spinal support.

But be warned: you’ll lose about 1% of your muscle strength every day you spend in bed, but you can lose as much as 20-30% of muscle strength after just a week or so. You need to get out of bed and get moving as much as possible.

Go for a short, mild walk a couple of times a day. Putter around your house as best you can. Use hot and cold packs to reduce inflammation and pain. Take more anti-inflammatories to reduce the swelling and get your body healing itself.

Do some stretches to relieve pain and improve joint mobility and muscle strength. Use a back brace if necessary. What matters most of all is that you move around and keep your body working!

Learn More About Treating Back Pain with Back on Track

Back on Track is our solution to helping you deal with your upper, mid, and lower back pain. We’ve learned about a dangerous sleeper syndrome that is behind a lot of back problems, and in our course, we share all about it to make sure you understand one of the true threats you’re facing. But don’t worry: we also give you simple and highly effective means of counteracting this problem and getting your spinal health back on track.

Give Back on Track a try, and you’ll find that you feel a world of difference in your back mobility and flexibility. Plus, you’ll be combatting one of the greatest problems facing us all today. The question “How should I lay with back pain?” won’t come up again because you’ll have everything you need to keep your back healthy and strong.