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Lower Back Pain When Coughing & How I Fixed It

Have you ever coughed and felt your lower back clamp down on you like it's trying to break your spine in half? Me too. It is not fun. Coughing and sneezing can aggravate an already tender lower back and ruin a few minutes of your life. I struggled with the problem of lower back pain when coughing and here is what I did to overcome it.

Lower Back Pain When Coughing

Coughing With (Possibly) Lower Back Pain


Triggers Of Lower Back Pain When Coughing

There are a lot of ways to end up with lower back pain. Regardless of the source, if you are in the pain cave made worse by coughing you probably just want to find the fastest way out.

Coughing (and sneezing for what it is worth) can be a violent movement for the lower back. Coughing causes a hard contraction of core muscles, which can aggravate the lower back - especially when it is already in muscle spasm.

Lower Back Pain When Coughing And Sitting

Lower Back Pain When Sitting (And Maybe Coughing Too)


Lower Back Pain When Coughing - Finding Relief

Getting out of my lower back pain when coughing was synonymous with getting out of back muscle spasms. Once I got my lower back muscles to relax, coughing no longer made me want to jump off a cliff.

Relaxing Your Muscles: The techniques I used to relax my lower back muscles out of spasm were 1) deep tissue massage, and 2) topical muscle relaxant foam. The goal of this step that you want to envision is releasing constant tension. A tense back is an angry back, and an angry back causes pain. We want to relax our muscles out of tightness/tension/knotting/pain so that they no longer attack us when we do a movement like coughing.

How I did it: The first step of massage I did with the lower back muscle release tool QL Claw - which I used to massage the big lower-back-pain-causing muscles Quadratus Lumborum, Gluteus Medius, Iliacus, and Piriformis. I used a variety of topical foams as well to simmer down the lower back during the worst of the pains.

What else I did: I am fairly conscious of spine hygiene (check out Stuart McGill's work if you are not), so I made sure to avoid triggers and stay mobile during my recovery. I highly recommend daily walks and avoiding what hurts in the short term just as a base floor.

QL Claw

QL Claw Muscle Release

Quadratus Lumborum Release Using QL Claw


Lower Back Pain When Coughing Results

After around 5 days the majority of my pain was gone. It took another 5-10 days to be able to cough completely pain-free, but it got better as my muscle release work built. If you are dealing with lower back pain when coughing, give muscle release a try. It may not be the cure-all or work for everyone, but I guarantee you will at least feel better if you buy in and give it time.

Feel free to shoot me an email at if you are dealing with the lower back pain when coughing and we will see what we can do, thank you for reading!


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[1] Donnelly, Joseph M. Travell, Simons & Simons Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction: the Trigger Point Manual. 3rd ed., Wolters Kluwer Health, 2019.

[2] Davies, Clair, and Amber Davies. The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook: Your Self-Treatment Guide for Pain Relief. 3rd ed., New Harbinger Publications, Inc., 2013.

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