My back is totally shot, bad discs, arthritis, lower back muscles, etc.
I use one of those Swedish contour pillows for my head, and one of those special contour pillows that goes between your knees when you sleep. That one is the best for lower back pain from strain.
Get a good quality lower back brace. Not one of those elcheapos. It really does help and is also a good preventive measure. Expect to spend about $50 on a good one. Who gives a crap what the customers think!!
When I have something extra strenuous to do, like installing a new a/c, I wear the back brace and then strap a big wide weightlifting belt over the brace.
Strong stomach muscles will take lots of stress off the back. I started about 3 1/2 years ago lifting weights. I do it every night. I have a home made device where I sit on a weight lifting bench and do situps pulling 100 pounds of weight.
Posture is *very* important for back problems too. Always make it a habit to think about keeping your back straight when you're lifting things.
Be careful of the anti-inflammatory prescription drugs. They can destroy your liver and kidneys if taken daily.
I've been on Celebrex for several years, but only take it on really bad days.