Like fugitive247, I'll have to start off with the standard disclaimer; I'm not a medical doctor; my only expertise about lower back pain is from personal experience. However, the following advise was given by a chiropractor, and helped me relieve the pain of a herniated disc after several years of playing basketball. If you have persistent lower back pain, see a doctor.

General Advise

First of all, prolonged bed rest may not be the best solution to resolve lower back pain. If the pain is caused by a herniated disc, bed rest for a long period can weaken the lower back and stomach muscles. These muscles support the spine, and they will result in increased back pain when weakened. It may be better to remain active, but you have to be careful with activities that put a lot of stress on your back. On the other hand, if the pain is caused by a strained muscle, bed rest could solve the problem.

Footwear: Wear sneakers, or shoes that have a lot of cushioning. Alternate pairs every day. Also, high-cut shoes (like basketball shoes and hiking boots) are not so good for everyday use, since they may weaken your ankles, and hinder proper foot motion.

Seating: if you have a desk job, make sure you have a chair that forces you to sit in a proper position. You could try one of those kneeling-chairs. I have had some positive results with these chairs, but it takes a while getting used to. Also, don't try these if you also have bad knees. Always be aware of your seating position.

Pain-killers: I don't know exactly what to tell you, since I try to avoid these as much as possible. If the pain becomes unbearable, I guess you could try them. On the other hand, pain killers may obscure the signals of your body that you should change your seating position, take a break from what you're doing, and/or lie down.


Two keywords are essential to beat chronic back pain:

Strength and Flexibility

Both strength and flexibility are equally important. You need to gain strength in the lower back and stomach muscles to give better support to your spine. Flexibility is needed to relieve the tension of impinged nerves in your spine (sciatica is a common problem with chronic back pain).

Ask a chiropractor about a good exercise program. Personally, I had positive results with the following exercises that give strength and flexibility to the target muscles. All these exercises are done while lying flat on your back.

  1. Hamstring Stretching
    With both hands clasped around one thigh, slowly straighten knee to feel a stretch in back of thigh. Hold for a fixed count and release. Repeat.
  2. Low Back Stretching
    Clasp one hand around each knee. Spread legs apart slightly. Pull knees towards armpits. Hold for a fixed time and release, but do not release knees. Repeat. This exercise can also be done with each leg individually.
  3. Sit-Ups
    Slowly come to a half-sitting position. Hold for a fixed count and relax. Repeat. Keep head straight to avoid strain on the neck.
  4. Bridging
    With knees flexed and arms across chest, lift hips from floor. Hold for a fixed count and relax. Repeat.
  5. Pelvic Tilt
    Flatten back, and then arch back. Repeat.

There are several machines in a fitness center that can help with chronic back pain. These machines target the muscles of the legs, stomach, and the upper and lower back. I recommend talking to your doctor first before attempting these.

And finally, the exercise that helped me the most: SWIMMING. I started swimming on a regular basis (4 times per week), and I instantly felt the benefits. After a while almost all the complaints disappeared. Swimming is a low-impact exercise that strengthens all the muscle groups in your entire body. Give it a try.