Millions of people deal with some sort of chronic mild to moderate back pain every single day making it one of the most commonly reported types of pain. The rate at which people report back pain also seems to be increasing and the age of the people who report back pain seems to be getting younger. This is likely due to the side effects of modern life which are characterized by lack of activity and prolonged sitting. That’s the bad news. Now here is the good news, most people can solve their mild to moderate back pain issues by applying the following four steps. Before you continue, please get your doctors clearance to try my steps. Doing the wrong thing for your back can cause worsening injury and pain.
Stretch your hams, hip flexors and hips
Increase the flexibility of your hamstrings, hip flexors and hips. When you sit for long periods of time (like most people in modern societies do) you encourage your body to adapt and “form” a particular way. Your body gets really good at sitting which can cause trouble for a lot of people. One of the adaptations that occurs with prolonged sitting is the tightening of the muscles surrounding the seated position. Your hamstrings, hip flexors and hips get tight. When these muscles are tight they pull your pelvis into positions that may not be ideal for your spine. Simple daily stretches can immediately relieve some tension in your lower back. Spend 10 minutes every few hours doing basic hamstring, hip flexor and hip stretches for relief.
Strengthen your core
Your spine is made up of many joints. If you were to take a spine and try to stand it up on its end, it would fold. It has tons of mobility. What keeps your lower spine in optimal positioning when you sit, stand or move are the muscles around it. These muscles are collectively called the “core.” When they are strong they keep the lower back protected. When they are weak the lower spine bends, twists and folds towards the weakest link. You don’t need to work out like a maniac to get your core strong enough to support your spine either. Spending 15 minutes a few days a week is usually enough to get your core strong enough to prevent pain.
Here are a few of my favorite core exercises:
Don’t Stay in one position for too long
Our bodies were not meant to be in a fixed position for hours at a time. Your body was meant to move. Movement promotes blood flow, reduces inflammation, and allows muscles to stretch and contract. ANY position held for hours a day can result in pain. Every hour you are sitting, try getting up and moving for 5 short minutes. Walk, move and lightly twist. This simple tip always produces amazing pain-relieving results for my clients. The side effects also include better cognitive function and work performance.
Don’t eat the wrong foods
When you eat foods that cause bloat or indigestion the distention that happens in your belly actually causes your core to lose its ability to support your spine. When your core braces it does so by tightening up its muscles and by slightly drawing in. A bloated stomach from eating the wrong foods prevents this from happening. Eating foods that cause digestive issues also increase systemic (all over) inflammation in your body which makes any pain much more painful. Staying away from foods that cause digestive issues also has wide ranging effects like improved health, improved mental performance and better eating patterns.
There you go. Four simple steps that have helped many of my clients relieve or even cure their mild to moderate back pain. Apply them and give yourself some time. Most people start to feel progress after about 2 weeks of consistency.