Let’s be honest, back pain is pretty darn miserable.
Not only does it cost our economy billions of dollars, but if you’ve suffered from back or neck pain, you know how unpleasant it can be. Unfortunately, most of us will suffer back pain. Back pain affects us on a lot of levels. It prevents us from doing the things we want to do. It affects our energy levels, our sleep and our moods. When we’re suffering from back pain we can’t be at our best at work, at home, as a parent, playing sports, it’s very limiting and very frustrating. Over time, chronic back pain greatly diminishes our overall quality of life. Thankfully, there is a lot you can do to reduce back pain.
So without further ado, 11 things you can do right now to decrease back pain:
1. Control your weight – not only does being overweight increase our risk for developing diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and cancer, but being overweight is bad for your back too. We can kid ourselves into thinking those 20 or 30 extra pounds aren’t that stressful to our bodies (I’m guilty of this too), but they are. If you’re not convinced, put 30 pounds in a back pack and walk around for an hour. Now, how great does it feel to take off the back pack? But remember, that’s only one hour. Think what that weight is doing to your feet, ankles, knees, hips and back long term. As a patient of mine recently said, she felt like her excess weight was “pulverising” her joints with every step she took. A friend lost 25 pounds recently and the chronic knee pain he had had for years disappeared. That being said, it is the most important thing we can do for our backs and our health, but it has to be the most difficult thing too.
2. Move more – A sedentary lifestyle greatly increases our likelihood of developing back pain. Remember, if you rest, you rust.
3. Strengthen Your Low Back Muscles – Here are the five basic exercises to strengthen and help prevent low back pain.
4. Increase Flexibility – Find a certified yoga instructor or try this beginner’s routine.
5. Lift Weights – Provided you’re doing it right, it’s not only great for your back, but nothing helps change your body composition faster than lifting weights and getting stronger. Get a personal trainer you can trust and go for it. Here’s a list of gyms in the Montreal area.
6. Drink More Water – Pretty easy – drink more water and probably have less pain.
7. Eat Better – Our diet is so crucial, maybe this should be number 2. We feel better when we eat better. We heal better when we eat better. We think better when we eat better. We have less inflammation when we eat better. If we could cut out processed foods, wheat and dairy, I think we’d be a lot better off. If we could add more water rich fruits and vegetables and green salads to our diet, that would make a big difference too. And if you do eat meat, be sure to eat grass-fed meat. If you could incorporate just these changes you would be well on your way to decreasing your back pain.
8. Eat Organic – eating genetically modified Franken foods increase inlammation. Organic foods are more expensive, but with fantastic services like the Jardin des Anges organic home delivery, it makes it easier and I think quite economical to go organic. We spend $59 per week to have 5 bags full of beautiful organic fruits and vegetables delivered to our door. $236 for our fruit and vegetables every month seems very reasonable.
9. Foam Roll Regularly – A fantastic way to decrease back pain and enjoy (or at least tolerate, not a lot of people love foam rolling at first) a deep tissue massage. After about 90 days, most people can tolerate it pretty well and can switch to foam rolling 3 times per week. This video will lead you through a nice foam rolling sequence.
10. Decrease Your Stress Levels – Take up meditation. Find a job you like. There is a strong correlation between job dissatisfaction and back pain.
11. See a qualified health professional – This one goes without saying. The longer back pain goes on, the harder it is to treat. The body starts to get used to it as it’s new “normal” and voila, chronic pain. Make sure you see a professional who has been trained to evaluate overall spinal motion and also, the motion at each individual vertebra. If a joint isn’t moving through a full range of motion, it’s going to cause trouble. Obviously I’m biased. I think every one should look after their spine and see a chiropractor to keep their spine healthy and prevent it from becoming arthritic. While chiropractic isn’t yet considered mainstream in Quebec, remember that in North America, chiropractic is now the third most utilized form of healthcare, behind medicine and dentistry. Chiropractic is also the most utilized form of natural, drug-free healthcare in North America.
Don’t let back pain control you and your life.
Take these proactive steps today and I’m sure you’ll be surprised at how much better you feel. If you have any other suggestions as to how we can decrease back pain, I would love to hear them. Please feel free to share your ideas in the comment section.