Controlling Your Own Back Pain
First-Aid for a Back Muscle Spasm

by +Lawrence Gold Credentials | Publications | Personal Page
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Associate, The Novato Institute for Somatic Research and Training

Certified Hanna Somatic Educator

Certified Practitioner, Dr. Ida P. Rolf Method of Structural Integration


This page is for people who need immediate relief from back pain and is intended as temporary help until longer-term measures can be taken.

It shows how to relax back muscle spasms by reconditioning the neuromuscular control mechanism of back spasms. Without reconditioning that neuromuscular mechanism, anything else done can produce only a temporary improvement -- which is why physical therapy typically takes so long and why chiropractors have posters in their offices that speak of "the chiropractic lifestyle".

You wouldn't tolerate taking your car to the mechanic for mechanical trouble as part of your "lifestyle" or taking it back for weeks for the same problem, would you? Would you tolerate that lifestyle for back trouble? Many people do. You don't have to.

For convenience, you can buy the DVD, Quick Help for Back Pain and play it where you can lie down and do it.

Bulging discs, sciatica, spinal misalignment and facet joint syndrome all result from and are secondary to excessive back muscle tension. Relieving back muscle spasms relieves the other conditions (some will resolve immediately; others take days or weeks to resolve once the compression forces abate).

Back spasms can be brought under control by a few cycles through the procedures shown here (although a session with a clinical somatic educator brings much faster improvement than any exercise, including what's shown, here.)

Once the emergency is over, follow with self-help instruction for long-term improvement.

The explanation of the procedure -- a series of slow, soft, coordinated movement actionsn -- appears below the video links.

Nothing is for everybody -- but you may want to bookmark this page, now, so you can return to it, should you leave it without taking action.

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Back Muscle Spasm / Emergency Back Self-Care Basics

Most back pain emergencies arise from muscle spasms triggered by minor movements.

Short-term Effects: pain, arrested movement, restricted breathing, nerve pain (e.g., sciatica).

Long-term Effects: degenerative disc disease, spondylolisthesis, spinal arthritis, osteophytes (bone spurs)

This page contains video instruction for relief from two levels of back pain emergency:

  • CATEGORY 1: severe, immobilizing, or persistent pain: CLICK HERE
  • CATEGORY 2: relatively intense pain where some movement is possible: CLICK HERE

    The most common advice I see given for CATEGORY 1 is, "Lie down and don't move."

    Better: "Lie down and do very gentle, wavelike spinal motions to loosen the spasm and free your breathing."

    NOTE: If you have numbness or pain in your legs or feet, do only the CATEGORY 1 movement sequence and consult a physician to rule out severe disc problems. You may do the sequence repeatedly.

    see also:

  • "A New Way to Relieve Chronic Back Pain"
  • "A Functional Look at Back Pain and Treatment Methods" reprinted from The Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients


  • Hi Lawrence,

    I typed in "relief for back spasms" yesterday and read your article. Then I ordered the ebook, and did some exercises this morning. I can already feel some relief. And I know over time my "back problems" will return to normal, my natural state.

    Thank you so MUCH for making Somatics available!

    I love alternative therapies. I listed your article/site at What Love Does in alternative therapies.

    Marelin Thornton
    Hi, Marelin.

    Thanks for the note and for the listing at What Love Does.

    May I quote you on the website,

    Lawrence Gold
    Sure! I'd be honored. I did them again this morning and I feel even more improved. I plan to keep this up for the sake of my healthy back.


    First Aid for Back Pain

    DO THIS:

    • Do these movements to create sensations of movement. (They'll be comfortable.)
    • Do them very smoothly and slowly.
    • Move gently, within the range of sensations you're willing to experience. Done gently, they are safe to do even with disk problems. If in doubt or afraid, consult your physician before proceeding.
    • Always put a moment of complete relaxation between repetitions of a movement.

    If you do these movements casually, mechanically, or without sensing the location of the muscular effort; if you do them too quickly or too hard; you lose the benefit. You need to feel what you are doing as you are doing it.

    You get better results from doing "too little" than from doing too much.

    Never cause yourself to cringe from fear or pain (some soreness is inevitable); if you cringe or you ahve to resist the urge to cringe, do a smaller movement. Move more slowly, more gently.

    NOTE: You may experience soreness for a few hours after doing these exercises -- and the main back pain associated with movement will have decreased.


    Twelve-minute Emergency Back Care from Lawrence Gold on Vimeo.

    Fast help for back spasm emergencies. Instruction for relaxing spastic muscles to recover comfort and movement. Gentle somatic movement exercise.

    NEXT STEP: 17-Minute First Aid for Back Pain

    Programs for Long-term Recovery :
    ~ The Cat Stretch: The Cat Stretch Exercises
    ~ Free Yourself from Back Pain

    ARTICLE: Back Pain, Therapeutics and Somatics


    17 Minute First Aid for Back Pain from Lawrence Gold on Vimeo.

    This seventeen minute video shows and guides you through the second procedure for emergency back care of lower back pain. This is a recording of an actual session with a client, so you can hear his feedback as the session proceeds.

    Programs for Long-Term Recovery :
    ~ The Cat Stretch: The Cat Stretch Exercises
    ~ Free Yourself from Back Pain

    ARTICLE: What You Can Do about Your Own Back Pain

    R E S O U R C E S
    You are invited to take a free preview
    of the somatic exercise programs offered here.

    The Institute for Somatic Study and Development
    Santa Fe, NM

    Lawrence Gold, C.H.S.E. Publications | Credentials | Personal Page

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