7 tips for Valentine’s Day with a Bad Back

It’s Valentine’s Day, you really fancy your Beloved, but your back is aching – what to do?!

In my 27 years of being a qualified osteopath, several people have asked me about this. The most extreme case was the bride who called me on the morning of her wedding. She had put her back out doing some gardening the day before! I’m not talking about here about the various internal factors that might make sexual intercourse painful, (which need to be investigated), but the more general problem of how to tend your sex life when you’re suffering from a dodgy back….

Having a bad back can be quite a challenge when you would love some skin time with your Beloved – although it has to be admitted that when your back pain is going off the Richter scale feeling sexy can be a low priority.

  1. If you’re in a really acute episode, then getting intimate probably needs to stay at the minimalist end of the spectrum – Light & Gentle, Smooth & Slow being the crucial factors, such as very gentle touching, light and slow stroking, so long as that’s comfortable for you to manage, or maybe just tell each other how much you love and care, and still fancy each other, and are looking forward to the pain calming down. If all else fails you could always play your own version of “I spy….”
  2. If it’s more just a background niggle, then – take some pain killers first (with or after food). There are various brands that do slow-release ibuprofen: Sainsbury’s, Boots, Tesco’s all have their own versions. (If you don’t have asthma, or stomach ulcers, these should be fine.) They can be very helpful for reducing night pain, or that first-thing-in-the-morning aching. If in doubt about possible clashes with other medication or conditions, ask a pharmacist.
  3. Keep things simple, don’t try any advanced positions – again, Light & Gentle, Smooth & Slow – lots of slow stroking and skin caressing. Use lubrication if you need it… back pain can interfere with the natural arousal responses.
  4. Ask your partner to avoid
    • any strong or rapid movements
    • any quick changes of direction; these can be quite jarring when you’re feeling a bit fragile.
    • squashing you
  5. Always, always work out what works for you!  To use an old-fashioned term – “Heavy Petting” is fine under these circumstances. After all, the aim is to enjoy yourselves. , don’t try any advanced positions – again, Light & Gentle, Smooth & Slow – lots of slow stroking and skin caressing. Use lubrication if you need it… back pain can interfere with the natural arousal responses.
  6. Ladies, if you’re feeling strong enough to cope with penetration – then maybe go on top; or spooning can work, if you already know the geometry and angle of approach that is comfortable for You. Probably better not to try this for the first time when your back is unhappy.
  7. Some Exercises that can help – usually done separately from your close encounter, although incorporating these (slowly) into your intimate times can be quite interesting:Exercise 1 – Knee Rocking – useful for before, or after, (but probably not during!)

    – Lying on your back with your knees bent, imagine your knees are pointing to 12 o’clock. – Very gently and SLOWLY begin to rock your knees side to side: one minute to and one minute past is fine.

    – Gradually rock your knees further, until they are rocking from 5 minutes to, to 5 minutes past, or 11 o’clock and 1 o’clock.

    – Either way, it’s a small and slow movement – NOT 9 o’clock to 3 o’clock, which is a great exercise when you’re feeling strong enough, here we are assuming that you’re a wee bit delicate.

    Exercise 2 – Pelvic Tilting (and again this can be done in that neutral position of lying on your back with your knees bent), even done minimally, when done correctly, will strengthen your abdominal muscles, relax tight muscles at the bottom of your spine and help the local circulation.

    – Exercise 3 – Pelvic Floor: Ladies, gently squeezing your internal vaginal muscles is good to support your insides, and can be quite fun for your partner as well.

    With all of these exercises, if they are hurting or pulling, you’re going too far, and/or too fast. Think minimal, stealthy and slow. Think of a speed and halve it.

    Then halve it again.


    If in any doubt at all about your aches and pains, check with your local registered osteopath about exercises that are right for YOU – you can search the register here:


    If you live or work in or near Hitchin in North Hertfordshire, or Sydenham in South East London, and would like to have a chat with me about how osteopathy might be able to help you, then do get in touch:

    [email protected]


    07535 350 343

     NB, as always with advice such as this: – any of these activities to be undertaken at your own risk…..

    Seriously though, if in any doubt about pain or discomfort that you are experiencing, consult either your osteopath or your GP.

    The advice I give my own patients (unless it’s something like a nasty fall, car accident, knock to the head etc which needs an appointment ASAP) is “Remember Christina’s Three Day Rule”:- Lots of aches and pains can settle down with three days of TLC [see my next article]; if things are still paining you, then make that appointment.

    To end on a lighter note: I hope this down-to-earth advice helps, and that you have a fab evening!

    Christina Raven is an osteopath and cranial osteopath, qualifying from the British School of Osteopathy in 1990, having first studied Music at Goldsmiths College, London. She is fascinated by the effects that chronic pain can have on our mood and comfort, and has treated thousands of patients, including scores of musicians and hundreds of stressed business men and women – a lot of them with lower back problems. Her practices are in Sydenham, London SE26, and in Hitchin in Hertfordshire