3 ways to help your back pain
If you experience chronic neck or back pain, then you know the nagging feeling of pain that doesn’t go away. You may know which activities tend to spark the pain, but then at other times it comes up out of nowhere. This unpredictability can be frustrating and might cause anxiety, leaving you wanting to quit activities you may have previously enjoyed. But despite what you may think, activity is exactly what your body needs to stay healthy and have less pain. Newton famously discovered that “an object in motion stays in motion.” Allowing your body to rest too often can make it harder to move overall and can even lead to further injury.
Activity – Think about your body like any machine. If it remains inactive for too long, it becomes hard to get it up and running again. It takes longer and is more painful to go from no activity to some activity. One reason for this is the fluid in your joints; when your body is active, this fluid flows more freely, lubricating your joints and protecting them. Like your joints, the spinal cord is also surrounded by fluid that is most helpful when you engage in healthy activities.
Posture – To help keep neck and back pain at bay, it’s important to learn correct posture. Keep your back straight, your shoulders down, and distribute your weight evenly on both of your feet. Maintain good posture throughout the day, regardless of your activity at the time. Pay attention to the way you sit at a desk, walk to your car, and pick up a basket of laundry. When lifting, remember to push up through your legs rather than straining to lift with your back, and keep the lifted object as close to you as possible. Learning to do the activities of your daily life with correct posture can help you a great deal in managing your pain and keeping it from worsening.
Exercise – Remember, when a body remains largely inactive it is more prone to injury or worsening pain; thus, exercise is critical. A few minutes of warming up will help ease you into a period of more intense exercise and help prevent injury. If you are an avid runner, realize that pounding the pavement may be tough on your joints and that walking, elliptical machines and modified aerobics classes can give you the same benefits. Many physical therapists also recommend core strengthening and stability exercises such as the Superman – a move where you lie flat on your stomach and lift your head and shoulders up off the floor. Lifting free weights can also strengthen your back and neck muscles, while yoga and Pilates can improve flexibility and range of motion. Swimming and cycling have also been recommended as low-impact exercises that offer benefits to the whole body.
No matter what activity you choose, keep it simple and you will be more likely to stay committed. Don’t let fear of injury keep you from pursuing positive activities that can improve your quality of life.