How To Heal Your Back Pain Without Painkillers
Back pain is a problem for people across occupations and activity levels. It can arrive quite suddenly after an awkward twist or it can sneak up over time until the ache starts impacting your daily life. Left untreated, back pain can get in the way of you enjoying your favorite activities with friends and family.
One common way many people deal with back pain is by popping painkillers until the pain is no longer as strong. Unfortunately, painkillers don’t help address any of the causes of back pain and instead, mask painful inflammation. Masking your pain can allow your body to continue straining a troubled area and further exacerbate your problem. Without painkillers, back pain can feel overwhelming. How do you get it to stop? Luckily, there are tried and true methods to handle the back pain that address the root of the problem without resorting to covering up the ache with painkillers.
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What is Back Pain?
Your body is composed of a complexity of bones, muscles, and ligaments that hold you upright. When you are sitting, standing, or even lying down, your body is working hard to keep your bones and internal systems and functions in place. The reason staying upright is so difficult on our body is because of gravity. The Earth’s gravitational pull is all that’s keeping us from floating through life. With gravity, our feet get to stay firmly planted on the ground. But for something you likely never notice happening, gravity is constantly working against our muscles and bones, which are straining to create the tension that holds us together. And that tension can turn to pain when problems arise.
Whether you spend your days sitting or standing, active or more sedentary, it’s likely at some point in your life you might find yourself suffering from back pain. The muscles that hold you up can become fatigued when certain muscle groups are working harder than others — which happens when you slouch, slump, spend your day sitting, or use poor form when active. A twist or fall can also move something out of alignment and hurt. Back pain originates from a variety of mechanical and muscular problems.
Visit a Chiropractor
If you’re experiencing back pain, the first stop on your journey to recovery should be with a chiropractor. Not only do chiropractors specialize in the health and alignment of the spine, they work almost entirely without the use of drugs and medications. An experienced chiropractor can examine your spine to locate misalignments that may be contributing to back pain. Chiropractors provide specific, measured adjustments to correct problematic alignments throughout the entirety of the spine and up into the neck. While having a little bone or joint out of place may seem like a small problem, it can cause a ripple effect through the body. Your back is working hard with everything you do. Like a check-up at the doctor, a regular visit with a chiropractor can ensure you aren’t ignoring small problems that can grow big when left unattended.
Research has shown that the biggest impediment in seeking treatment from some health practices is a lack of information and knowledge about those practices. Don’t let any worries or concerns keep you from getting help with your back pain, especially when your chiropractor can answer any questions you have and set your mind at ease.
Strengthening & Stretching Exercises
For many people, back pain can stem from weak abdominal or support muscles. When your muscles aren’t being regularly engaged and challenged, they can grow feeble, which isn’t a descriptor you want used for the muscles holding you upright. Integrating abdominal exercises into your workout routine can help with more than just back pain. Strengthening your supporting muscles leads to better alignment and posture, which is a great way to avoid future strain.
Remember that your abdominal muscles wrap all the way around your core and include the muscles of your back. Even if your belly is strong, when you don’t focus equal attention on strengthening through the back you’re left with an unbalanced foundation for your spine. A commonly suggested (and useful) exercise for back pain is yoga. One study found yoga to be as effective as physical therapy. Along with a great stretch, yoga provides valuable mental practices and benefits. Yoga continues to grow increasingly popular, which means there are a variety of studios and online practices to choose from. You’ll want to find a class that provides a gentle stretch with accessible strengthening exercises. And let your teacher know you’re experiencing back pain so they can provide appropriate modifications.
Back pain can oftentimes arise from a muscle knot. Knots occur when muscle fibers begin to bind together, which happens when muscles aren’t being stretched. Mobility and hydration are the key to avoiding future muscle knots. Once you have a muscle knot, it can become incredibly painful the longer it is left without treatment. Particularly when knots show up throughout the back where there is required movement and strain when moving throughout your daily life. If you’re experiencing deep, centralized pain, take action to get it resolved.
Begin treatment for a muscle knot with a massage therapist. A clinical massage therapist will be able to loosen the adhesions within the muscle knot and also rub away some of the tension in compensating muscles throughout your body. Don’t expect a single visit to relieve you of all pain. Muscle knots are something that build over time. Relieving them also takes time and patience. Even if you’re not suffering from muscle knots, visiting a massage specialist can relieve tension throughout the muscles of your back and shoulders, where countless people report aches and pains. The gentle pressure from massage can help prevent knots from coming up in the future.
As with any injury, it’s important to allow your body the time and space to rest. Pushing through the pain often results in even more pain long afterward. Particularly with back pain, patience is key. It can be frustrating to deal with pain, but taking the time to get to the root of the problem and working through it completely results in a long-lasting relief.
Although rest is important, this advice isn’t an excuse to avoid any activity entirely. Remember that exercise is important to increase your strength and mobility. Remaining sedentary is likely to add to your troubles in the form of muscle knots. Find a balance between engaging in the exercises that loosen and strengthen the muscles of your back and resting in supported alignment. This is not an ideal time to take on tasks or exercises that significantly heighten your pain.
Consider a New Mattress and Desk Chair
While there are a number of active practices listed above to alleviate back pain, this is a change you can make without stepping into a gym or health center. Humans spend a large portion of their lives sleeping. And many adults spend much of the time they’re not sleeping sitting at a desk while working. If your bed or desk chair aren’t providing the necessary support for your body, it can manifest in back pain. While a pillow-soft bed may feel wonderful when you first fall into it, a bed without firmness is a recipe for pain. Your spine has natural curves that are important to maintain while sleeping and sitting. Your desk chair should provide support at the lumbar spine and allow your feet to rest comfortably on the floor.
Back to the Basics
All of the advice listed in this article can be summed up in one sentence: take care of yourself. Your body is your vehicle through life. And just like a car, if you don’t take it in for regular maintenance it’s likely to fall apart. Start with seeing a chiropractor who can provide adjustments to reach natural alignment of the spine. They can also recommend personalized exercises or activities that will help you build up your structural support muscles and likely recommend a good masseuse.
After each active session of healing, allow adequate time for rest. This will help your growing muscles heal and build, and it promotes a release of tension that may be contributing to your pain. Your periods of rest (including sleep and sedentary periods of occupation) need to be fully supportive to be truly restful. If you’re sleeping on a lumpy or cloud-like mattress, your back is still working hard to keep you stable. Taking care of your body can take some practice. It can be hard to build the skills and find the time to focus on yourself. But engaging in these self-care habits means you spend less of your future in pain, and less time swallowing painkillers in an effort to ignore pain that continues to grow worse.
Take the time today to implement a few changes. And as those changes continue to build, notice the difference in your back – and in your lifestyle.
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