When your career depends on you moving and lifting things, you need a healthy back. But constant motion can cause you to strain and pull your muscles, leaving you unable to do your job. When your body won’t let you work, how long do you need to recover?

Depending on how severely you injure your back, you may be out of work for an extended period. While your body heals, you will need to take precautions to let it fully recover.

Strains don’t heal overnight

According to WebMD, serious back strains can take weeks to heal. When muscles and ligaments stretch and tear, they cause pain until they grow back together. During this time, trying to lift or push things around may make the damage worse.

You can help move your recovery along

While you recover, your doctor will give you instructions for what you can do during the healing process. Here are a few ways you can help speed recovery, with your doctor’s permission:

  • Use ice to reduce swelling – Immediately after the injury happens, cool your back to ease inflammation and pain. You may need to ice it for two or three days.
  • Heat your back once the swelling has gone down – A hot bath or electric heating pad can help ease your pain as your back heals.
  • Get some exercise – Your doctor will likely tell you when you can start moving again. Once you can, try to get in some light, non-strenuous motion.

Recovery can be in reach

A back injury can put you out of work, unable to collect a paycheck. You may need to rely on workers’ compensation benefits as you recover. But with time, many back strains will heal, letting you continue with your job.