Back pain is a real agony, and more people are suffering than ever before. We checked with experts on how to drive away this unpleasant pain.
Whether it’s the feeling of tightness in the morning when we wake up, or the annoying pain of sitting in front of a computer, more and more of us seem to be suffering from back problems. According to the British Association of Chiropractors, about two-thirds of women experience back problems at least once in their lives, and the average woman experiences back or neck tingling for the first time at the tender age of 28, four years earlier than men. Worse, as many as 22 percent of women experience back or neck pain on a daily basis.
But this is not something you should simply get used to. In fact, even a few minor lifestyle changes can help, such as restricting the use of a cell phone or using a purse that is worn across the body rather than on the shoulder to distribute the weight more evenly. Constant pain requires complex treatment, but the first step to overcoming back pain is to determine what kind of pain it is…
Unexpected, sudden pain can be caused by a disc slip, which happens when one of the discs lying between the bones in the spine is damaged and puts pressure on the nerves. If the pain is really severe and over-the-counter pain medications don’t help, see your personal physician.
When your doctor or physiotherapist thinks you are ready, start exercising easily. Slow cycling (mandatory on flat asphalt surfaces) can help, as moderate, rhythmic movement requires movement of the spine. Avoid strenuous exercise such as running or aerobics.
Pain and tightness when you wake up can mean arthritis of the spine caused by wear and tear. Usually the pain during the day, when you start moving, goes away.
It may sound weird, but try standing on one leg for a short time. This works on the muscles, which take care of balance and stability and we don’t usually use them enough, especially if we sit a lot. Standing on one leg also helps to improve balance and posture, as we often tend to lean to one side. Stand on your left leg until you start to feel too shaky, then repeat with your right.
Check your bed, especially if your partner weighs a lot more than you, as this affects the support of the mattress. Consider using two single mattresses that you push together to get both the support you need. There is no evidence that a hard mattress would help more with lower back pain, so choose the one that is most comfortable for you.
The pain spreads from the lower back down the leg, sometimes to the sword and feet. It can also be caused by wearing high heels or gaining weight, as this puts extra strain on the joints in the spine, which take care of its mobility and allow you to bend and turn. Also, due to the bent posture, the discs can swell over time, leading to leg pain or sciatica.
It is important to keep yourself as upright as possible. If your work is sedentary, it is very important what chair you are sitting on, but you can also replace the ball for an upright chair posture. Balance, strength and mobility exercises are also important and should become part of your daily routine. Try an inclined star: stand upright and extend your arms and legs to create a star. Then raise your right arm in the air and lower your left to your foot. Inhale while slowly stretching the raised arm over your head and slowly stretching the spine to the left, lowering the left arm along the length of the thigh. Slowly return to the original position and repeat on the other side.
To relieve the pain, lie on your side in the fetal position and place a pillow between your legs. Anti-inflammatory painkillers such as ibubrofen may also help.
Soft tissue massage, which increases circulation, relieves muscle cramps, and helps trigger the release of endorphins, which are considered a natural painkiller, can also help.
Once the pain subsides, it is important to slowly become active by walking, swimming, and gently stretching.
Lower back pain
Dull pain or a pinched feeling at the base of the spine is usually caused by poor posture and lack of physical activity.
Swimming is ideal as it does not strain the joints, while Pilates improves mobility and strengthens the back muscles. If your work is in the office, get up every 30 minutes and take a short walk to stretch your muscles. When you return to the table, sit with your back straight, shoulders down and back, elbows relaxed at the sides. Your buttocks should touch the back of the chair, avoid crossing your legs. Keep your keyboard directly in front of you, with the mouse on its side. When using the keyboard and mouse, the wrists should be straight, the shoulders relaxed, and the elbows at the sides of the body.
Reflexology may be an effective alternative to pain medication. A study conducted at the University of Portsmouth found that people felt 40 percent less pain after reflexology and were able to endure pain 45 percent longer when using this method as adjunctive pain treatment.
Pain in the upper back
This phenomenon is common in people who spend most of their workday at the table. Over time, nerves, muscles, and ligaments become tired, and posture deteriorates due to bending, causing pressure and leading to pain and inflammation.
Meditation or yoga. A York University study found that people who attended a 12-week yoga practice felt a remarkable improvement in back function than those who embarked on regular treatment programs.
Poor posture can also be to blame. As you walk, imagine that you are a puppet with a string holding your head straight up, pushing your shoulders back and pointing straight towards the horizon – this will reduce the pressure on your spine. Avoid using two pillows while sleeping, as this will stretch the neck muscles and the muscles of the upper back. It is important to keep the neck flexible to strengthen the neck muscles and improve range of motion, so look over your left shoulder every few hours and then over your right shoulder. With this exercise, the pain in your neck and upper back should subside.