When pain strikes, particularly in the LOWER BACK, it is all too easy to reach for some tablets and visit the doctor. However, there are a number of tried and tested alternative treatments to deal with this problem once your G.P. has diagnosed a muscular issue:
1. Release some Endorphins – these are hormones produced by your body that block pain signals, alleviate anxiety and reduce stress. They are released by doing some aerobic exercise, having a massage or trying some meditation.
2. Get enough sleep – The body recovers whilst we sleep. Although pain can make it difficult to sleep well, lack of sleep will also make the pain worse. To break this cycle, try to find the most comfortable position and use pillows to keep a good alignment in your spine whilst you rest. Your ear, shoulder and hips should be in a straight line.
3. Strengthen your core muscles – These support your spine and are not used much during our modern, sedentary lifestyle. You need to exercise them using specific movements as often as you can fit into your daily life. Try a Pilates class to get you started.
4. Soothe pain with hot or cold therapy – Cold packs reduce inflammation and can numb the pain whilst heat pads improve blood flow and relaxation. Always place a barrier between the pad and your skin. A tea towel is a good idea.
5. Find activities that make you happy – Doing something that you enjoy, particularly with friends, can reduce stress, release endorphins and make the pain more tolerable.
6. Stretch your Hamstrings daily – Tight muscles at the back of your thighs will pull on your pelvis and cause tightness in the lower back. Keeping this area stretched and flexible will help with any pain in the area. Stretch carefully and keep it pain free. Little and often is best.
Other stretches that can help –
Often we just need some gentle exercises to wake the muscles up in the morning or stretch them out after a hard day.
The four in the photo can do both of those things:
1. Lie on a comfortable surface and pull your knees towards your chest. You should feel a stretch from mid to low part of your back. If you roll around a bit, top to bottom and side to side, you are also massaging the muscles that run up either side of your spine.
2. Still laying down, release your knees so that you can put your feet on the ground. Roll your knees from side to side, as far as is possible. Everyone will be able to twist different amounts. You will get your knees closer to the ground the more practice you have. This will mobilize your lower back and stretch your side muscles.
3. This is called the Cat stretch in Yoga. On all fours, tuck your tail bone in and arch your spine up like a frightened cat. Slow and steady on this one, please. Try to feel each vertebrae moving.
4. The Cow stretch is the opposite of the Cat. Slowly untuck your tail bone and drop your lower back towards the floor, You will get this dip in your back. Again, try to feel each of the bones in your back moving.
Imagine a Mexican Wave up and down your spine. That is the effect we are aiming for.
If you want any discuss how massage and gentle exercise can help with your back pain, please get in touch.