The vast majority of us have had or will have low back pain at some point in our lives. If you’re active, or sit for long periods of time, you are more likely to experience discomfort. In fact, low back pain is the leading cause of disability worldwide AND the #1 reason for missed work in America!
All of which makes this newsletter topic that much more important. There are steps that you can take to reduce your low back pain now, and prevent pain from occurring in the future. Pharmaceuticals and surgical procedures can have vast unintended consequences – it’s best to know how to give your body the things it needs to heal itself.
So, without further ado, here are 6 things you can (and should) do to eliminate back pain and prevent the intensity and frequency of back pain in the future:
1. HYDRATE – Next time you’re in a convenience store, take a look at the beef jerky. How flexible does that look? Now picture THAT is what your muscles act like when they are not properly hydrated. OK, so this is an extreme example, but you get the point. Muscles need water to perform like they should and maintain their elasticity. When muscles become dehydrated, they become rigid, inflexible and much more likely to spasm which means much more pain for you.
2. STRETCH – Hamstrings & IT bands are most commonly implicated in low back pain and tightness in my clinic. The psoas and gluteal muscles can also get in the mix at times, but there is always an imbalance of overly-tight muscles as part of the issue in low back pain. If you can’t touch your toes, you probably have extremely tight hamstrings. For your IT band, I recommend using a foam roller (you’ll curse me in the short term, but thank me later).
3. EXERCISE – Low back pain can often be avoided if the core is strong. When your core is weak, your posture suffers and muscles that should not be involved in keeping you upright start to fire. 99% of the time when a muscles gets recruited to do something it is not designed for, tightness & pain is the result. Core exercises will help keep you upright without pain. Aerobic exercises have the added benefit of releasing endorphins, and improving circulation which will also help keep you out of pain.
4. MEDITATE – The studies are overwhelmingly clear – mindfulness meditation is an effective way to deal with pain and stress. The studies indicate that it does not matter what form of meditation you practice, and even 10 minutes a day can have substantial changes in perceived pain & stress and even objective measures like blood pressure.
5. HEAT – Applying heat to a painful lower back can be incredibly effective at improving circulation to the area and allowing the body to send the resources necessary to heal. I would recommend doing an epsom salt bath – the warmth will help, and the epsom salts will help hydrate & relax the muscles as well.
6. ACUPUNCTURE – Hopefully this is obvious to all of you by now, but acupuncture is an extremely effective way of decreasing low back pain by increasing blood flow, increasing levels of natural pain killers and decreasing inflammation. Licensed Acupuncturists are also trained in utilizing manual therapies, prescribing exercises and stretches as well as herbal treatments to have the biggest impact on your condition.
So there it is! 6 steps I highly recommend for anyone dealing with low back pain. If you want to learn more or come in for a free consultation to find out how we can help you, give us a call or shoot us an email.