If you suffer from lower back pain, you’re certainly not alone. According to the National Institutes of Health, back pain is the second most common neurological ailment in the United States (just behind headaches), and Americans spend at least $50 billion a year on treating it. For most of you, bouts go away within a few days, but others may not be so lucky. The good news, though, is that lower back pain is completely avoidable. If you stick to the following tips, you can say goodbye to that nagging lower back for good.
All kinds of exercises can promote back pain recovery by improving circulation and reducing stress, but researchers from the University of Washington believe yoga may be the best. They say yoga eases lower-packpain faster than most conventional exercises because it promotes deep breathing and relaxation, as well as stretching and strength. Therefore, yoga can help you with both the emotional and structural triggers of backpain. You can find yoga classes everywhere—at gyms or local studios or you could even start a yoga group with friends at home. But be sure to consult your instructor who can help customize a plan that’ll work best for you and your back pain.
Stand Up To The Pain
Sitting puts 40% more pressure on your spine than standing. So the more time you can spend on your feet, the less back pain you’ll have to endure. If you can’t avoid heavy doses of desk work, sitting back at a 135-degree angle—roughly the position you’d assume in a lounge chair—can reduce compression on the discs of your spine, and so alleviate pain.
Mediation is a proven stress reliever and chronic pain reducer. Along with stretching, it’s a natural remedy we think will work great on that achy lower back of yours. But if you aren’t sure where to start, try out some simple breathing exercises first, which will help lessen your painperception. For example, give the 4-7-8 breath a go:
- Sit or lie in a comfortable position and place the tip of your tongue just behind your upper teeth.
- Exhale completely through your mouth, making a gentle “whoosh” sound.
- Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a count of 4.
- Then hold your breath for a count of 7.
- Finally, exhale completely through your mouth (“whoosh”) to a silent count of 8.
- Inhale and repeat the cycle 3 more times.
Let Go Of Your Grudge
According to researchers at Duke University Medical Center, those who practiced forgiveness experienced less anger, resentment, and depression—and fewer aches and pains. “Our emotions, muscle tension and thoughts can directly influence the strength of our pain signals,” says researcher James W. Carson, PhD. So if you find that you’ve been harboring some negative energy toward people in your life, try to let it go. You’ll do wonders for your physical health. But remember that forgiveness isn’t a simple, one-time remedy; it involves choosing, again and again, to replace anger and resentment with understanding.
Adjust Your Diet
A poor diet—especially one high in added sugar —produces inflammation that slows blood circulation and heightens back problems and pain. At the same time, a not-so-hot diet contributes to weight gain, which also puts pressure on spine and lower back. Cut back on unhealthy snacks and eat more fruit, vegetables, and whole grains to improve blood circulation and drop weight.
Acupuncture is an ancient practice where tiny needles are inserted into specific points in the body as a means of correcting imbalances of energy—known as qi or chi—which, in turn, regulate our health and our sensitivity to pain. While there isn’t much scientific consensus on acupuncture’s effectiveness, research has shown that pinning needles at specific acupuncture points can alleviate pain. If anything, acupuncture can be a relaxing experience that will help loosen up a tense back.
Take An Anti-Inflammatory Supplement
Many natural, herbal remedies can mellow your back pain. You could try devil’s claw, an African herb that has a long history of medical use and has been shown in recent research to ease chronic lower-back pain. Research has also found omega-3 fish oil supplements and daily consumption of anti-inflammatory spices like turmeric and ginger to be helpful. As always, consult your doctor or certified naturopath about which ones will best address your back pain.