Most people will experience some degree of back pain during their lives. Back pain comes in many forms, from lower back pain, middle back pain, or upper back pain to low back pain with sciatica. Common back pain causes include nerve and muscular problems, degenerative disc disease, and arthritis. Many people find relief from symptoms of back pain with medication and physiotherapy. There are a number of reasons for back pain – perhaps you have poor posture, maybe you don’t sleep in the right position, you may be overweight, there are many possibilities.
Back pain itself can cause difficulty sleeping and lack of sleep can make the pain even worse, it’s a vicious cycle that is incredibly hard to break. By addressing any sleeping problems that you have may be the key to easing your back pain. Even small changes like rearranging your sleeping position, reducing or increasing the number of pillows or relaxing your muscles with a hot shower right before you go to bed could make all the difference. Or perhaps you need to assess the mattress you are sleeping on, it is important to change your mattress at least every 6 to 8 years and do some accurate research to figure out what kind of mattress will suit your back’s needs.
Regular exercise and being active on a daily basis will help keep your back strong and healthy. Activities such as walking, swimming and yoga are popular choices. Exercising the muscles in your abs and back can have a huge impact on lower back pain, and even doing something as simple as correcting your posture while you’re sitting at your desk works those muscles and can have a lasting effect on your back pain in the long run. If you feel like taking it a step further, practise sitting upright on an exercise ball for 30 minutes a day. Better still talk to your personal trainer who will be able to advise on the best programme of exercises to benefit your back.
It used to be thought that bed rest would help you recover from a bad back, and you may feel the best way to deal with the pain is just to lie exactly where you are without moving a muscle, but it’s now recognised that people who remain active are likely to recover more quickly. With severe pain it may be difficult but by moving around as soon as you can and aiming do a little more each day you could feel an improvement. As simple as a walk around the garden for a few minutes at a time, admiring the view to distract you from the pain and just increasing these walks could help.
Hot or cold therapy can also be hugely beneficial for soothing lower back pain. Heat application stimulates blood flow, which sends healing nutrients to the area of your body that’s in pain. Cold application reduces inflammation and also acts as a local anaesthetic by slowing down nerve impulses, which prevents your nerves from spasming and causing you discomfort. There are many ways to incorporate hot or cold therapy into your daily routine, such as cold packs, hot water bottles and hot showers.
It is also possible that the source of your lower back pain could be found in your feet. According to a study in the journal Rheumatology, women whose feet roll inwards when they walk may be especially prone to lower back pain. If you suspect that your feet may have something to do with your pain, it’s definitely worth speaking to a specialist about your concerns. You can then look into whether taking extra measures, such as wearing orthotics to correct the arch of your feet, is exactly what you needed all along to help with your lower back.
Look after your back by following these few simple rules:
- Exercise and activity are the most important ways of helping yourself if you have back pain
- Strengthen your trunk muscles as this may help to protect your back
- Keep moving and continue with activities such as walking or swimming
- Gently stretch to prevent stiffness
- Avoid sitting for too long when driving or at work
- Make sure your car seat and office chair are adjusted correctly and support your back
- Check your posture when using computers/games or watching television
- Eat a healthy diet and exercise, as being overweight can be a cause of back pain
- Take care when lifting, bending your hips and knees to use the power in your legs
- Check the mattress on your bed to ensure it supports you properly
- Don’t smoke – it impairs your circulation, which affects how quickly your body can recover