8 Tips to Avoid Back Pain when Coughing & Sneezing

Back pain and related damage can be caused by many things that don’t seem like something serious...almost no matter how you try, it’s hard, if not impossible, to sneeze or cough without arching your lower back. Just put yourself at the top of your toes or imitate a big yawn and see what happens! That’s because spinal nerves connecting themselves throughout your body run through chucks of your muscles in the low back region. When one is present with injury, these sensitive nerves are easily irritated, more so than usual.


Learn more about what you can do to avoid back pain when coughing or sneezing, and the most common causes.

How to Avoid Back Pain when Coughing or Sneezing

According to doctors and physiotherapists, the worst thing you can do when coughing or sneezing is instinctively curl forward. This increases pressure inside the discs of the spine by over 300%. If you already have a tear in a disc of your back, then suddenly bending forward too quickly can cause sudden pain on your nerves due to this pressure. A great way to prevent any kind of damage is by sitting correctly in the first place. By sitting straight and tall, these symptoms will diminish over time!

If you are one of the many people who experience back pain when coughing or sneezing, Dr. Fryer has a few quick-fix solutions that may help you:

1. Keep your Back Arched

When someone sneezes, do they immediately fold their body in half, like it's some kind of lame attempt at a yoga pose? That's because the simplest way to breathe out your nose doesn't involve more than opening up your mouth and making loud noises. One of the worst things you can do when you get sick is hunching over and rounding your back, which compresses the spinal discs, which feels uncomfortable for most people. The best way to prevent pressure in the spinal discs and prevent discomfort is to make sure your back keeps its natural arch when you cough or sneeze.

2. Support Yourself

When coughing or sneezing, keep your head still and bend forward. Keep your back as straight as possible while bending forward. This should affect the smallest amount of stress. If the cough or sneeze is strong enough to pain you, take some time off to protect yourself in the best way possible.

If you feel a cough or sneeze coming on, simply place your hand down on something like a desk or ledge. This decreases the compressive effects on the spine. While the above quick tips are incredibly effective, they’re not always enough to effectively treat back pain.

3. Cold Therapy

In the modern world of today, one way to reduce inflammation and pain would be to apply ordinary cold therapy packs. When exposed to something cold, such as ice or a cold compress, the skin will constrict blood vessels in painful areas. This is what causes a reduction in body temperature, and why someone who falls into a frozen lake may lose consciousness. Once this happens, there will be less blood flow, especially if the nerve receptors are blocked. Less blood flow means less inflammation.

There are many ways to ease the pain of a muscular backache, but one of the most reliable is icing. This can be done in two different ways: your back pain can be actively treated by applying a cold compress for fifteen to thirty minutes at a time, or by applying an ice pack after coughing, sneezing, or physical activity.

Just avoid ice-cubes for muscle knots or muscle spasms, as the coldness of iced water can worsen these types of pains.

4. Heat Therapy

Heat is great for several types of back pain, although it is ideal for muscle knots and muscle aching. It works by releasing the tension, which effectively relieves both the soreness and pain felt in your lower back. Heat can be released in various forms, such as herbal heating pads or even hot water bottles placed on sensitive areas we'd like to pay close attention to (i.e. muscles). And if you decide to use this type of recovery method, it's important not only to use heat, but also to give your body plenty of room where you won't feel uncomfortable while resting within that area.

Heat therapy is best used for muscular pain and joint soreness. Applying heat to the affected area helps increase blood flow to the area, which leads to quick healing and reduced pain. When using heat therapies, remember that more isn't always better. Depending on your body's sensitivity, try 20 minutes at a time, everyday or every other day, until you find what works best for you.

However, heat can worsen inflammation, so it should not be used in the first 72 hours following a new injury.

5. TENS Therapy

You know when you get a backache after you’ve sneezed or coughed, and then nobody can console you while the pain is still raging on? Well, now there’s something out there that can actually help with your excruciating pain—TENS therapy! This therapy uses low voltage electrical currents to relax muscles and alleviate the symptoms of soreness caused by coughing and sneezing. It’s great for those suffering from chronic lower back pain, joint problems, inflammation and much more! The good news is that this method is convenient and portable enough to do in your own home!

6. Rest

Resting your back doesn’t mean staying bed-bound for weeks. What it does mean is taking some time out from the activities that cause or exacerbate your back pain. However, too much rest may make your situation worse and leave you wondering why you didn’t do something about the problem sooner. Recognize when the simple act of rest helps reduce or alleviate some pain, or participate in activities that keep your body fit and flexible, such as stretching and yoga. Avoidance can help prevent further injury, restore strength through proper posture, promote healing and prevent limitation of daily life, while also allowing time for your body to heal itself.


For maximum benefits, don’t lie down for more than a few hours at a time, and never for more than two days. Stay comfortable and reduce pressure on the discs and muscles by placing a pillow under your knees when lying on your back, or between your knees when lying on your side.

7. Maintain a Healthy Weight

Back pain is a common problem for those with excessive fat stored around the midsection. That’s because there is additional pressure on the spine, due to the increased mass above it. Regularly coughing or sneezing adds to the strain and makes it more likely that an individual will experience back pain regularly.

No one wants to carry excess weight, but it’s a common problem that affects countless people. Thankfully, you can take steps to manage your weight. If you lose a lot of extra pounds through diet and exercise, along with regular monitoring, the benefits will be long lasting in terms of feeling healthier, while also reducing any risk of serious issues in the future. Don’t forget that investing in a good-quality digital scale is highly recommended, so you can enjoy tracking your progress.

8. Always Lift with Your Legs

You don't want to get a stiff or a sore back! Like most exercise injuries, back pain is preventable, and you can reduce your risk of suffering an injury by following some easy tips. For starters, use proper lifting techniques by keeping your knees and elbows slightly bent while exercising. This will supply you with enough power, without putting yourself at unnecessary risk. Another helpful tip is to always ensure that only one of your joints can bend or twist at a time. If you lift weights at the gym, ask a fitness professional for advice on proper form.


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