Are you wondering, “What is the fastest way to heal a lower back strain?”

Chances are, you’re in pain because of some incorrect movement, over-exertion, or sports injury that damaged your lower back. Either the muscles or ligaments were injured, and you’re flat on your back desperately Googling how to solve the problem.

Don’t worry! We’ve got your back (yes, pun intended).

Below, we’ll answer the question “What is the fastest way to heal a lower back strain?” by walking you through the 7 simple, easy steps you can take—STARTING RIGHT THIS SECOND—that will have you pain-free and moving around easily in no time.

What is the fastest way to heal a lower back strain?

Step 1: Do not lie down! I know there is a very strong urge to lie down on the couch or bed, to take the pressure off your spine to relieve the pain. But trust me when I say that is not the best idea. Lying down will allow your back to swell up and stiffen, and will make standing up (eventually) even more painful. Studies have proven that more bed rest doesn’t necessarily speed up healing—in fact, it might even lengthen recovery times.

The key is to stay standing and moving around right after your injury—for soft tissue injuries to your muscles and ligaments. Damage to your spinal bones or nerves should be treated differently, but for anyone who is feeling the pain of a strained muscle or sprained ligament, walking around and staying mobile is crucial!

Step 2: Take a painkiller. Your very first stop on your pain-reducing walking tour should be wherever you keep the painkillers. Any aspirin or ibuprofen will help to both combat the pain and, more importantly, halt the swelling in your lower back. You absolutely want to reduce swelling because swelling will actually slow down healing times.

The inflammatory response to injuries and tissue damage is intended to protect the area from further damage, so your body swells up and stiffens as a means of preventing additional injuries. But because of all the inflammation, blood flow to the injured area is reduced, so your body can’t get the critical nutrients required to repair the damage. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, like aspirin and ibuprofen will reduce swelling—and by doing so, enable your body to repair itself more efficiently.

Step 3: Apply heat and ice. Once you’ve got the painkiller working on combatting the swelling and pain from the inside, it’s time to work on the pain from the outside. Start off by applying ice, an ice pack, or cold pack to the painful area. The sooner you apply the cold treatment after the injury, the more effectively it will “freeze” the injury site and halt inflammation.

Keep the ice pack in place for 15 minutes, then switch it out to a hot pack. The heat will increase blood flow to the damaged area, which is critical for damage repair. After 15 minutes, switch it back to an ice pack. Repeat this every 15 minutes for the first 1-2 hours after a lower back injury. This hot and cold treatment will do wonders to reduce inflammation and accelerate healing.

Step 4: Support your back. If you have some kind of back brace or girdle, you’ll do wonders to help speed up recovery. Back braces and girdles apply compression (which reduces swelling) and offer support (to prevent further injury). Use the brace or girdle to facilitate easier, pain-free movement for the first 1-3 days following the injury.

Step 5: Take a short walk. Once you’ve treated the issue with heat/ice, NSAIDs, and a back brace/girdle, it’s time to get walking. You’ve already started the healing process and prevented inflammation, so now you want to increase blood flow and strengthen the muscles around the injury site. The best way to do this safely is by walking.

Find somewhere flat to walk, and walk for anywhere from 15 to 60 minutes (whatever feels good for you). You’ll find that the walk does wonders to improve spinal alignment, strengthen the core muscles supporting your spine, and increase blood flow. Walk for AT LEAST 1 hour per day for the first 3 days following a back injury to speed up healing time.

Step 6: Rest. Only after your walk should you take some time to rest. You’ll probably be feeling tired, your spinal muscles needing to recover, so a short rest can do your back good. Spend a few hours in bed, with your lower back and legs supported. Make sure to get up and walk around at least 15-20 minutes every 3-4 hours, with one last short walk before you go to bed.

Step 7: Get active with your recovery. For the 5 days following your lower back injury, you may want to avoid anything too intense or high-impact, but that doesn’t mean you want to avoid exercise altogether. Stick with exercises that strengthen your spinal muscles, improve alignment of your spinal cord, and encourage more mobility and flexibility. Active recovery is crucial for getting back on your feet and enjoying a pain-free life as quickly as possible.

What is the fastest way to heal a lower back strain? Try Back on Track!

I consider the Back on Track system to be the “Bonus Step 8” that everyone suffering from back injuries should try. Our system addresses the dangerous syndrome that is so often ignored (or even misunderstood), but which is one of the primary causes of lower back strain. If you’re looking to speed up healing times and prevent future injuries, Back on Track will help you understand what’s causing your pain and give you practical actions you can take starting today. You’ll rarely have to ask, “What is the fastest way to heal a lower back strain?” again because your back will be healthy and strong!