black and white pic of someone in back pain
According to the National Institute for Health, “About 80 percent of adults experience low back pain at some point in their lifetimes. It is the most common cause of job-related disability and a leading contributor to missed work days.”

Back Hurts? This Helps

I don’t know about you, but I never feel better than when I’ve had a massage. Or a hot bath. (Maybe when I’ve had a massage and a hot bath?) But life happens to us between massages and hot baths, and that’s where self care tools come in! In this ongoing series I will cover the very best of store-bought and homemade help, for folks of all budgets with owies!

Are you ready for… Immediate Relief on the cheap with Mama Trish’s #1 Self Care Back Hack? Then let’s proceed, shall we?

#1 Self Care BACK Hack

Today we’ll discuss my very first in a series (hence #1) “Self Care BACK Hack”, and one that I use almost daily to keep myself moving. If you have muscle spasms the microwaveable heating pad will be an invaluable addition to your self care tools arsenal! I have used it for soooo many different things: my neck, back (upper, mid, and lower), joint stiffness from the cold, even earaches. (The warm heat is very soothing, and relaxing tight and swollen muscles in your neck and around your ears makes it easier for your eustachian tube to drain.)

WARNING: These heating pads can get very hot, and depending on the materials and filling used, they vary on a safe amount of heating time. I suggest you start with 30 seconds, and move up in 15 second increments. Not only will this burn YOU if you overheat, but it will also burn the grain filling, which smells awful! I have two that can only go in for 1 minute, while the third needs about a minute & 15 seconds. (See other warnings below.)

Dude, I am soooo busy…

I can hear you now, “But I don’t have time to sit around with a heating pad! I’m busy!” Join the club, neither do I. I was torn between doing something that I knew I needed and would make me feel better, and getting things done that needed to be done. And then it dawned on me…

Shirtless rock climber trying to rub his own back
Wanna stay active and pain free? Self Care for your aching back!

Every single time I clean the floors my low back goes into spasm. Painful spasms. (As if I needed another reason to hate housework…) So one day I took the heated pad, wrapped it in a scarf, and tied it around my waist, resting right on the muscles that spasm. Then I vacuumed. No spasms! That’s pretty powerful medicine, there, being able to do preventative/maintenance self care while also working! 

Sometimes muscle spasms aren’t just physical, they’re physiological. If you aren’t getting enough water (no, soda and coffee don’t count), you can spasm. Also if you are lacking THIS magical mineral, (like I was), it can make a huge difference in your muscles. Remember, Self Care means caring for the whole self, inside and out! Goodnight Maggie is best for me. Pricey, but worth it. Even helps with a good night’s sleep…

Self Care on the Go

Self Care on the go! How very handy! Now a common sight in my yard is me raking or gardening with a jaunty little pirate sash holding a heating pad to me. (Note: I performed at a festival all weekend, standing, walking, pushing a cart, and playing multiple instruments. As I type this, I have THREE heating pads on my back and neck. This is good juju, y’all! Is it any wonder that this is my #1 Self Care Back Hack?!)

If you live in colder climes and the cold makes your neck pain worse, wrap it in a scarf and tie it around your neck when you leave the house. They make smaller ones, or you can fill an old cotton sock with rice, wrap it in a scarf, and all anyone will see is the scarf. And it keeps me from spasming while I wait for the car to warm up. (#1 Self Care Back Hack AND Neck Hack?!)

Girl muffled up in a scarf
This woman could have a heating pad in her scarf and be totally toasty, and you’d never be able to tell!

If you have to wait for a bus or a train in the cold, fill two smaller cotton socks with rice, tie ‘em off, heat ’em up, and tuck in your coat pockets for a cozy self care secret! And since most jobs have a microwave, you can re-up whenever you need it, and switch to whatever part of you needs a little extra love during the day. (I got this idea from my Great-Gramma Curly, who would walk to school in the New York winter with a hot baked potato in each pocket. Self Care and lunch!)

WARNING: If you have diminished capacity to feel, (including, but not limited to, nerve damage from stroke, accident, or diabetes), do not use heating pads. You could burn yourself. And NEVER, EVER use on a baby!

Cheap and Easy D.I.Y.

If you don’t want to make your own – which I personally do because I can use organic brown rice and a cotton covering – you can also get them at your local pharmacy for around $10, or online for up to $35 (Geez, Louise, really?! Just make one. Everyone has a lone cotton sweatsock around somewhere, and a bag of rice is, like, two bucks.) 

So, yeah, that’s my cheap and effective fix. My #1 Self Care Back Hack. So go. Hack, my pretties! If you wanna get fancy, you could sew one out of a cotton tee or pillowcase (< possibly the first item in the Self Care Circus’ Self Care Line!), you can add a drop or two of lavender or mint or your favorite essential oil, giving yourself aromatherapy along with your self care.

I hope this makes your life a little better. I know it has mine. If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, leave us a comment below, or shoot us an email. Stay warm and toasty, y’all.