Modern society has led to an increase in back pain, as we put our spines under more and more stress. During the day, especially if you have been working hard, sitting a lot, or have an aching back, it is advisable to rest your back properly for at least 20 minutes.
Besides being relaxing, there are important reasons why you should rest your spine adequately. The discs between the vertebrae have a central jelly section that contains water. During the day, when the spine is put under pressure, the discs lose this water and they become thinner and stiffer. During the night, by lying down, the discs regain their height, and it is for this reason we are often taller in the morning than last thing at night.
Unfortunately, we put an enormous compression force on the spine and discs during the day, particularly by sitting and standing. By lying down in a position where the compression forces in the discs are minimal, the discs can regain their full height and flexibility.
By lying down correctly, large muscles of the back can relax, helping to reduce any muscle spasm. Often they are not able to relax properly (even when we lie down at night, due to stress, tension and poor sleeping positions). Resting your back sounds easy enough, but there are specific directions which you should follow in order to really relax the spine:
Lying on the floor is best, giving good support to the spine. Lie on the bed if this is too sore, or getting up and down is too difficult. Place about 2-3 inches of soft books under your head (with a towel or cushion if painful). Keep your neck level, neither forced up, nor allowed to drop down. You should be able to swallow comfortably, but if in doubt opt for a little extra height. Raise up your legs, either with the feet flat on the floor, or with the lower legs supported by a chair, sofa or cushions. It is the lifting of the legs that allows for relaxation of the lower back muscles. Relax your arms by your sides, or with your hands resting on your abdomen.