If you suffer from back pain then you will know how debilitating this can be; earlier this year I suffered a twisted sacroiliac joint injury which affected the muscles up my spine causing agonising back pain. It was a six week injury and I was unable to do simple tasks as I normally would such as put my socks on, play with the kids, get in to a car, look down, or even walk without excruciating pain.
Hopefully you won’t ever suffer with this injury, but it made me realise how important it is for our backs to function properly as they affect so many aspects of our lives and enable the rest of our body to move freely. Without the full use of my back I was unable to bend over, I couldn’t reach my feet and even turning my head to the side was difficult. It totally affected my whole body and life. I couldn’t go to the gym as normal. I had to get my husband to put my socks on for me as if I tried to bend I would just get so far and stop. It was so bizarre – my back just refused to bend any further.
Well most people won’t be suffering with their backs to this extent every day thankfully, you may still find you regularly have some niggly back pain that you’d like to address. Even the slightest of back pains can make us feel uncomfortable sitting, standing and walking. Back pain is one of those pains that we can’t just ignore and get on as normal as we need our backs to be in tip top condition even when we are still in order to be comfortable.
If you are suffering with some back pain then you may feel as though no matter what you do, you just can’t seem to get rid of it and at times it can have a serious impact on your life as well. If your back pain is severe then you’ll want to seek professional help, but if it’s more of a niggle and inconvenience then there may be some things you can do each day to try and help your back yourself. I generally can tell if any back pain is caused by something I’ve done or my environment. If you feel like it could be the same, then below are some helpful hints and tips that will get you started on your journey to eliminate your back pain.
Photo by Kinga Cichewicz
Sleep disturbances are incredibly common with those who experience serious back pain. You may find that you can’t relax and you may even find that you can’t get to sleep at all. If you want to try and avoid this then you can try and change sleeping positions or you can even try and add an extra pillow under your body. This will help you to maintain the curvature of your spine and it will also help you to alleviate some of the pain. If you like to sleep on your back then put a pillow under your knees and if you sleep on your stomach then place it under your pelvis. If your back pain is very severe then consider seeking out professional help from providers such as Alexander Technique.
It’s also very important to have a suitable mattress. There are even different types of mattresses suggested for different types of sleepers and sleeping positions; a softer mattress is recommended for side sleepers and a firmer mattress for front sleepers for example. Work out how you best sleep and ensure your mattress suits this position. Eliminating some back pain could be as simple as ensuring you are getting the best and most comfortable night’s sleep possible.
Photo by Brooke Cagle
If you have back pain then you may think that the best thing you can do is sit and relax until the pain goes away. This is not always the case and sometimes moving around can really help you. If you rest too much then this can decrease the amount of strength that you have in your back and it may even worsen the pain that you have. If you make the conscious effort to try and strengthen your back however then you may find that this can reduce pain and that you have more freedom of movement as well. Try and take a slow, nice walk and pick up the pace when you are able to.
Obviously don’t overdo anything and take it easy! You’re not going to be able to run a marathon or pump iron at the gym like normal and this could even worsen the pain, but light exercise and movement such as walking could really help to ease the pain and keeps everything functioning as normal. There are even specific exercises you can do at home to target various types of back pain so get researching and find an online video to guide you.
Photo by Simon Rae
If you find it hard to exercise or if you just need some kind of direction then yoga is a fantastic option. There are so many books out there for you to choose from and you can even take a class if you want. There is strong evidence that shows that yoga is great for helping with back pain and the main reason for this is because it slowly but surely loosens your tight muscles. It also increases your breathing and it forces you to relax. If you are stressed then you may feel way more sensitive to pain when compared to someone who is not stressed, so this is a very important concept that you need to understand if you want to get a good result out of any treatment you pursue.
While yoga might appear intimidating at first glance, especially if you’ve seen those impossible twisted positions by yogis on tops of cliffs on Instagram, it really is anything but. Start with yoga for beginners or even gentle yoga. There’s a type of yoga and class for every type of person, ailment and intensity. I personally recommend Yoga with Adriene who has uploaded 413 yoga videos on her YouTube channel and has over 3.5 million subscribers! If you have a specific type of back pain then simply search along the lines of ‘yoga for lower back pain’ on YouTube and you’ll find a ton of free videos you can do in the comfort of your own home.
Having back pain may stop you from doing everything you want in your life and it may also make it hard for you to spend time running around and playing with your kids as well. If your back pain is mild however and possibly caused by lifestyle habits and environment then the above tips could really help to banish those niggles and get you back to your usual self.
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Photo by Jernej Graj