Why do We Have Back Pain and How to Be Pain Free
Have you ever experienced back pain? The Canadian Chiropractic Association reports that 85% of the population have experienced back pain in their lifetime. In Canada, the cost related to back pain in estimated to be between 6 to 12 billion dollars annually.
There are different reasons why people end up with back pain.
- Bad posture and body alignment
- Prolonged sitting at work, which adds stress to the spinal disks
- An old recreational or sport injury (dance, figure skating, gymnastics, etc.)
- Weak core muscles
- Tight muscles (calves, hamstrings, glutes complex, and hip flexors) that pull at the lower back
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Smoking cigarettes
- Acute muscle strain which can happen when shoveling snow or lifting heavy objects
- Arthritis and osteoporosis
- Herniated disk or bone spur that causes sciatica. It happens when nerves get squeezed
- Spinal stenosis
Lower back pain can come and go. Unfortunately, for some people it can be chronic and they are often forced to use heavy medication to temporarily relieve the pain. Fortunately, there are solutions to back pain. Here are some suggestions to try:
- Strengthen your core! People don’t have a core anymore. That is one of the first exercises I demonstrate to my clients. Even if you are standing, doing nothing, you can still engage your abs. Just imagine I am going to punch in your stomach, what are you going to do? You want to protect yourself by bringing your belly button towards your spine, isn’t? That is the way you should engage the transverse abdominis. It is the deepest layer of ab muscles. It is closer to your ribs and spine and it is also the most important one to work on. Get my ABS Workout Video here.
- Heat it up. Alternating between hot and cold helps improving blood flow. Every night, I sleep with a heated pad on different parts of my body to relax my tensed muscles.
- Get up from your chair or couch and move more. Studies show that even with a standing desk, it adds stress to the lower back. The best remedy is to move as often as possible. Follow the 20-20-20 rule and move away from your work station.
- Stretch it out. Stretching and yoga help keeping you agile and mobile. Flexibility should be practiced every day of the week. I have created several videos for back pain. You can have access to them here.
- Sweat it out. Everyone should workout to improve their mobility, balance, flexibility, posture, energy, lifespan, and reduce pain. Use proper form! If you are not sure how to workout properly, hire me as your personal trainer!
- Switch your crunches to planks instead. Crunches are very hard on the neck and lower back.
- Soak it out. Take a bath with Epson salt to relax the muscles. You can also enjoy a hot tub and use the jets at your lower back.
- Practice Aquafit. Buoyancy of the water helps reducing weight on joints and lower back. The water gives a nice massage to the body and all the exercise I give to my clients help with their pain. Read the testimonial from one of my clients with severe arthritis and back pain.
- Visit a massage therapist, chiropractor or physiotherapist to get the proper diagnosis.
- If it is related to muscles tightness and imbalance, I can help you reduce/relieve your back pain. I use the Biomechanics Method that I have studied several years ago. I utilize it myself and recommend it to all my clients who have muscle and joint pain. I use different therapy balls, vibrating instruments, and foam rollers. I provide stretches and exercises to retrain muscles to work appropriately. Read more here.
- To correct scoliosis, do planks only on the convex side: on the open side of the C shape of the spine.
- Avoid heavy lifting.
- Ladies, stop wearing high heels! Guys, stop wearing flip flop! I know it is stylish but it is hard on the lower back and calves get very tight.
- Sleep tight. Having a good night sleep helps reducing inflammation and pain. If you sleep on your side, put a pillow between your knees. If you sleep on your back, add a pillow under your knees. If you sleep on your stomach, add a pillow under your pelvis to keep your spine to neutral as much as possible.
- Get orthotics in your shoes. Correcting your posture starting from your feet will reduce pain and tension every where in your body, all the way to your neck. Visit my friends at Orthoquest to get your pair. I got a pair myself and it has helped me a lot with my knee and lower back pain.
- Maintain a healthy weight. The excess weight at the belly creates a imbalance and it is hard on the lower back.
- If you have osteoporosis, you need to stay active and increase your vitamin D intake. I’m a trainer who specializes in helping people with osteoporosis. I can guide you on movement and exercise you CANNOT DO.
- Use muscle relaxants if needed. Consult your doctor.
- Stop smoking. Researchers have shown that smokers tend to have more back pain than non-smokers. Nicotine found in cigarettes reduces the blood flow to the disks of the spine and limits the oxygen to the muscles and tendons.
- If the pain is severe, related to an injury or last more than 2 weeks, visit your physician or a physical therapist.
We are very lucky this year for not having a lot of snow! I say that because when my clients have to shovel heavy snow, they end up with shoulders and back pain. Let’s be grateful for the warm winter we are having. Stay active and healthy:)