Back pain plagues many modern people, and in fact will affect half of us this year, and four fifths of us over the course of a lifetime. And even though we often treat it as though it were as random and inevitable as catching a cold, the reality is that the vast majority of cases of back pain are completely preventable and completely treatable. Which is great news if you are reluctant to reach for the pain medicines just yet.
A huge part of the back pain we experience is related to our lifestyle. Ever wonder why wild animals rarely seem to experience back pain? It is because they are living the lives their bodies were designed for. Tortoises, wolves, seagulls, and fish may all move in very different ways, eat different diets, and generally live different lives, but none of them suffer back pain because they usually live the life their body was designed for. Humans, on the other hand, regularly engage in lifestyle habits which cause us back pain.
First of all, often what should only be mild discomfort feels seriously painful because our happy hormones are very restricted. Discomfort is actually a pretty normal part of being a human, or any animal. We are never free of physical damage, so we will always experience a little soreness, a little numbness, or a little tiredness. And normally our bodies release dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin to mask this discomfort. However, when our hormones are out of balance, we may experience this discomfort, and discomfort may become painful.
So a good place to start is simply by promoting the production of healthy hormones. Make sure to get plenty of sunlight, to eat a varied diet, and to avoid products containing simple sugars, caffeine, alcohol, and soya. This will promote balanced hormones which will allow your body to make its own pain relief.
A poor combination of being immobile all day and resting too little is also bad for our backs. Did you know that people aged 35-55 have the most cases of back pain, and the worst? This is because at this age we are often physically inactive all day, sitting in a poor position for our backs, but also sleeping and stretching too little at night.
We need to try and stay active during daytime hours to build up our muscles and keep our joints flexible. When our muscles are strong and our joints are flexible we are less vulnerable to strains and sprains, which are a common cause of back pain. And when we move enough we are unlikely to find our joints “locking” in unhealthy positions, causing a hunch back.
We must also sleep well. When we sleep not only do our bodies repair, but they stretch out and relax, giving our joints, including those in our spine, a much needed break. Getting enough sleep is therefore vital for a healthy, strong back.
Sometimes you will experience back pain due to injury. Often you cannot avoid this, but you do not need to turn to painkillers if you do not want to. A great remedy is hot and cold therapy. Use hot therapy for joint ailments, as this will loosen the joint and promote healing by encouraging blood flow. Use cold therapy for muscular back pain, as it will calm down inflammation, reducing pains.
Some of our back pain may not even be starting in our backs. All our muscles, tendons, and bones are connected to one another, so it makes sense that an injury or some tension in one place may lead to pain somewhere else. Common culprits for back pain are tense hamstrings, tight ankles, sore shoulders, a tight neck, and a weak core. All these conditions can give us back pain even if there is nothing wrong with our back itself!
Practicing yoga every day can help us alleviate our pains all over. If your back pain happens alongside pain in other joints, or reduced mobility, then perhaps your joints in general are not doing very well. Yoga will strengthen your muscles, relax your joints, and make sure your tendons are strong enough to hold everything in place.