Did you know that back pain is one of the most common musculoskeletal conditions affecting 24% of the total Australian population? There are many causes of your back pain but what everyone wants to know is why does the pain keep coming back and how can it be relieved.
In this article, I wanted to focus on the back pains related to muscle problems that have been affecting your daily lives and the five effective ways to relieve your aching muscles.
Whenever you have a back pain, the number one thing that you should do is rest.
1. Let your muscles rest
Doing nothing at all is sometimes the best thing to do. And what I mean here is to let your muscles rest. Overusing your muscles during physical activity is one of the common causes your back is aching often. If you don’t let it rest, the pain will never go away.
Just imagine you are lifting a heavy object; let’s say a piece of furniture from one place to the other in your house. Have you noticed that your arms, hands, shoulder and back are becoming strained and becoming painful the longer you bear the weight of the furniture? Then, when you put it down to rest for a while, the pain gets relieved. The same thing happens to your back if your daily activities continuously expose your back to physically demanding work.
Take a short leave from work if possible – 2 to 3 days would be sufficient to rest and at least reduce the soreness of your muscles. Applying ice to the back muscle can help reduce muscle soreness and reduce pain but if your muscles are tight due to overuse, a warm compress will be much helpful. Also, your health practitioner may recommend certain pain relievers for severe muscle pain.
Moreover, you should start practicing proper body mechanics that will help you maintain a good posture while working and avoid future back injuries. Otherwise, you may keep on taking work leave due to back pain.
Here are some principles of body mechanics that you should remember:
- When walking, keep your back straight.
- When trying to lift an object, have a stable foundation by keeping your feet apart and your back straight. Bend from your knees and hips to get your body lower and closer to the object. Do not bend at your waist. But it is best to push, pull or slide than lift.
- When you’re carrying something, keep the weight of the object close to your body.
- When you want to push or pull a heavy object, use your body’s weight and keep your back straight.
- Always keep your body in straight alignment. Avoid twisting at the waist.
Another factor that you need to look at when your chronically suffering from back pain is your weight.
2. Maintain a healthier weight
What’s your weight at this point? Have you checked if you still are in the normal weight range or are you overweight? The truth is being overweight contributes to your chronic back pain. So, you might think of ways to lose weight now before back pain escalates to further injury.
Why is gaining weight not good for your back? The extra weight increases the stress and pressure on your back muscles and lower spine resulting in back pain. When you have more fats in the belly, the weight at the front part of the body may increase the arch in your spine that can possibly cause injury to your spinal discs and nerves too. So to avoid this worse scenario, here are some weight loss tips for you:
- Exercise for at least 20 minutes daily. Cardio exercises like brisk walking, jogging, swimming, and aerobics dancing are easy and effective fat burners.
- Choose foods that are high in fiber, water and protein but are low in calorie content. Organic fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean meat are better than processed foods that are high in sugar content, preservatives, additives and other harmful substances.
- Eat a balanced diet instead of crash dieting. Weight loss fads that focus on crash dieting will do more harm than good to you. Indeed, it will help you lose weight quickly but it has an adverse effect – it will lower your metabolic rate, which is your ability to burn fats and use calories as energy source. As a result, you will eventually regain the weight as fast as how you lose it.
- Find some time to relax and let go of stress. Stress actually makes your body convert and deposit blood sugar into fat that can cause weight gain.
- Sleep well. Never ignore your need for adequate sleep, as lack of sleep can make you hungrier than the usual due to increased hunger hormone level.
Also, a massage therapy has always been an effective pain reliever, especially when we are dealing with aching muscles.
3. Go to a massage therapist
Have you tried going to a massage therapist to ease your chronic back pain? If not, maybe it’s time for you to do so. Some people may quickly resort to over-the-counter pain medications and muscle relaxants, yet their back pain keeps coming back. Why is that so? It’s because there are benefits of massage therapy than over-the-counter medications can’t offer!
Why should you consider massage therapy as an alternative intervention for your back pain? Therapeutic massage is actually good for muscle strain on your back and even back pain related to osteoarthritis of the backbone (spine).
Most back pains are due to muscle strains caused by lifting of heavy objects, sudden movements or maybe resulted from a fall or overuse injuries and repetitive motions. Strained back muscles can either become inflamed or tense and stiff resulting in back pain. Meanwhile, back pain in many middle-aged individuals is due to osteoarthritis of the spine, a condition wherein your joints are degenerating and inflamed.
So, how can massage therapy help relieve your back pain? Massage therapy has three major health benefits that are significant for back pain relief. Firstly, it promotes proper blood circulation, which is necessary in bringing nutrition to the muscles and tissues. Proper nourishment supports quick recovery of the affected muscles. Tensed muscles can also benefit from massage therapy, as it relaxes the tight muscles resulting in pain relief and improved flexibility. Lastly, massage therapy increases your endorphin levels. Endorphin is the “feel good” brain chemical, which not only boosts your mood but also has natural analgesic (pain relieving) effect.
Now what else could have been causing your chronic back muscle pain? Have you heard about deficiency in calcium, potassium and magnesium? Let me tackle that next.
4. Have your nutritional deficiency corrected
Calcium, potassium and magnesium are the three significant minerals in proper muscle contractions. If you’re experiencing persistent muscle cramps, tightness, pain and even weakness, consider having a blood test that measures the level of your calcium, potassium and magnesium. Many cases of muscle problems are related to deficiency of any of these three minerals.
Mineral supplements are available in health stores but you can also have dietary sources. Squash, molasses, pumpkin seeds, spinach, cocoa powder, flax seeds, black beans, sesame seeds, almonds, sunflower seeds and cashews are rich in magnesium. Most dairy products like milk, cheese and yogurt are high in calcium content but since many individuals have lactose intolerance, don’t like dairy products or are allergic to it, you may consider other sources like collard greens, broccoli, kale, oranges, sardines, salmon, white beans, okra, tofu, and almonds. If you need more potassium, eat more avocado, banana, spinach, kefir, yogurt, white beans, acorn squash, sweet potato, dried apricots and mushrooms. Coconut water is a good dietary source of potassium too.
Last but not the least is to consider consulting a Kinesiologist.
5. Relieve your back pain with the help of a Kinesiologist
An imbalance, block, constraint or deficiency of energy (Chi) throughout the body can also be the cause of your chronic back pain according to traditional Chinese Medicine. That is why you might be wondering why your back pain is not relieved after taking several pain relievers because it is the imbalance in your “Chi” that is mainly causing the pain.
But why are you experiencing energy imbalance? How will you know that you have energy imbalance and how can you fix it?
Mostly, injuries, anatomical obstructions, emotional constraint, stress, illness, overwork, and overstimulation of the brain are the culprits of “Chi” imbalance. Have you noticed that after a stressful day at work, you suddenly feel back pain even if your work is not physically demanding? Was there any instance when after an argument with your husband, you felt your back muscles becoming stiff and painful? Or let’s say when you are ill; even if it has nothing to do with your back, you still feel back pain? It is quite obvious that many circumstances result in back pain because your “Chi” is not flowing properly. In fact, aside from back pain, an imbalanced energy can also be manifested by allergies, mood disorder, relationship difficulties, digestive problems, nervous disorder, postural issues, poor performance, mental discomfort and other physical pain!
But how can you restore energy balance? Through kinesiology!
Kinesiology is a holistic health discipline that uses muscle monitoring to assess your overall well-being. Moreover, kinesiology can access your bio-information through muscle monitoring and it can identify the different factors causing the imbalance in your system, be it emotional, energetic, nutritional, psychological, structural, or spiritual aspect. Having all these data will allow your health practitioner to establish the best method to restore balance in your system and assist the natural healing process in your body. It removes the blocks to your energy flow. It boosts your body’s innate ability to heal and restore balance to both physiological and neurological health.
Again, let your muscles rest, maintain a healthier weight, have a massage, correct your nutritional deficiencies and try kinesiology whenever your back pain has become persistent. I hope all these health tips helped you. Until next time!
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- 5 Effective Ways to Relieve Your Chronic Back Pain - November 22, 2016