Sometimes a back problem is too inflamed for exercises to start. When this is the case, the ideal approach is to rest in bed with medication, doing hours of exercises throughout the day. Bed rest simply means going to bed, which is usually hard to do. The adjustment in people’s lives is never easy and invariably you think there must be an easier way. But to do it properly you simply must rest.

Furthermore, you have to give yourself over to the notion of doing nothing, with an attitude of abandon rather than frustration, otherwise, you will get nowhere. With cases of severe inflammation, there can be a build-up of treatment soreness which mimics the original pain. If the condition is chronic, the increase in pain is tolerable, but if the segment is acutely inflamed, it will seem as if the treatment has made you worse. Bed rest lets the dust settle. The peaceful periods between the hard work let the inflammation subside and allow your back to recuperate so therapy can go on.

Bed rest also eliminates the compression of gravity, which, as a first measure, starts the un-jamming of the spinal link. This first step usually makes the worst of the pain start to fade. Apart from relieving the local engorgement of the problem link, the horizontal resting eases the spasm of the spinal muscles. As they relax, the pain eases as the circulation picks up.

 There is better natural sluicing of toxic inflammatory products away from the local nerve endings and the pain is no longer ever-present. As the protective spasm eases, the restorative process gathers pace.


The important thing about bed rest is that it must be horizontal. It is not as effective on the sofa. You can get up from your bed to shower and get dressed but you must go straight back to bed to shower and get dressed but you must go straight back to bed and stay there, perhaps for several days. Use a pillow only under your head, two at the most. 

  • Avoid using a stack of pillows so that your back hangs in a deep slump. If you are very uncomfortable even lying there, you should have one pillow under your head and several pillows under your lower legs so that the hips and knees are as close to a right angle as possible. This reduces the pressure on your lower back. While you are lying on the bed, try to keep active. 
  • Don’t lie there rigid because that is the opposite of what you are trying to achieve. Keep relaxed and mobile but always flat, filling your time with the exercises shown below. Rest anyway you are comfortable (although all positions become uncomfortable after too long and you will have to move). 
  • Gather all your things about you: telephone, books and chairs where people can sit. Your back needs time and peace, so sign off and enjoy the rest.
  • Take care when getting up. You will have to roll yourself over to the edge of the bed and swing your legs over the side. To lever yourself up sideways, you will have to push into with both arms, with your tummy braced. Your legs will go down to the floor as your trunk comes up. You should only get up two or three times per day.