What I Discovered When I Outsourced My Back Pain

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Photo: Science & Society Picture Librar/SSPL via Getty Images

My boyfriend threw his back out a year ago, and it’s never been quite right since. So, we talk about back crap a lot. So much so, that I thought my recent back pain might be psychosomatic. (A recent trip to the great Dr. Sinett — who famously asks all his patients if he can get them something to eat — indicated that it is not.) Alas. What did I expect? I have a not-light-as-a-feather toddler. I sleep on a couch. I’m constantly computering, schlepping, stressing, and hauling ass like the rest of us. We are New Yorkers. With all of this, I now pay attention to back-friendly life upgrades. I’m a little obsessed. If you’re in real pain, you have to see a chiropractor, physical therapist, or acupuncturist (warning: They’ll all dispute each other), and come up with your own recovery plan. In the meantime, here’s a compilation of the best things to buy for your poor back, per my trusted hive-mind of backache murderers.

Essential oils

Recommended by: Lorraine Lavenita, owner of Health + Beauty, healer of all aches and pains

“Try PanAway Essential Oil blend by Young Living. In a small jar filled with coconut oil or olive oil, place 10 to 12 drops and blend well. Apply as needed for massage or self-soothing. While it’s not going to ‘fix’ what’s wrong with your back, it’s an analgesic pain reliever, which means it will, at the very least, numb the pain. I also suggest all clients with back pain get these Massage Balls.”

Buy
PanAway Essential Young Living Oils $37, Amazon

A foam roller

Recommended by: Erica Kronenberg, certified personal trainer

“If you find yourself sitting for hours at a time, regardless of your posture, your hip flexors will be tight and shortened, and your glutes will be lengthened. Using a foam roller to roll the hip-crease area will relax those muscles on the front of the hip, and enable maximum benefits from glute bridges (two sets or 20 reps) to work the lengthened muscles on the back of the hip. If you find your shoulders rolling forward (tight and shortened chest muscles) and upper back hunched (lengthened upper-back muscles) after hours at the desk, take a moment with these TheraBands and perform two sets or 20 reps of scapular external rotation and retraction.”

Buy
Triggerpoint Foam Roller $27, Amazon

A better mattress

Recommended by: Sasha Berlin, interior designer (as well as two yoga instructors I interrogated, and my friend, a nurse, who’s on her feet all day)

“My clients with bad backs or achy bodies have been really happy with the Sapira by Leesa Mattress. Apparently, they designed their whole mattress specifically for people with with back problems to have a better night’s sleep. They’re also great for weekend homes for back sufferers, because of the affordability factor. ”

Buy
Sapira Mattress From $825, Sapira Sleep

Epsom salts

Recommended by: my Jewish mother

As well as everyone else who’s ever suffered from back pain. In addition to the miracle salts, I can also vouch for Dr. Teal’s Soothe & Sleep body oil for massaging yourself (and others). Both provide a nice reassurance that life is — despite it all — a glorious lavender field.

Buy
Dr. Teal’s Lavender Epsom Salts $5, Amazon

A backpack

Recommended by: everyone

Throw out your tote bag, and see the Strategist’s guide to the best backpacks. I bought this Draper James one for myself in a fit of spring shopping. It’s wildly comfortable and posture-friendly, and I swear I caught Michelle Williams eyeing it on the F train.

Buy
Draper James Embroidered Bayou Backpack $185, Draper James

The right vape pen

Recommended by: fancy vape-loving friends with bad backs

I’m a big fun-killer when it comes to weed. It’s not my thing, and now that I have a kid, it’s not allowed in my house. However, these prefilled, rose-gold (!) vaporizers are intended for single use. They won’t make you bug out, and they will make all your aches and pains go away. Plus, so chic!

Buy
Beboe Vaporizers $60, Beboe

Bone broth

Recommended by: chef Marco Canora, Brodo master

“Bone broths contain calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and other trace materials needed for bone growth and repair. Properly made broth is also loaded with glucosamine, a known anti-inflammatory that reduces joint pain and could help with back pain, something chefs know all too well from years spent in the kitchen on their feet.”

Buy
Bone Broth $9, Caviar

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What I Discovered When I Outsourced My Back Pain