Back pain, especially chronic back pain, has got to be one of the most debilitating medical conditions. It is also quite common.
The NHS estimates that up to one-third of the adult population is affected, and about 20% of people eventually consult their doctor about it when it gets to be too much. Pain in the lower back is especially common, though it can be present anywhere, from the neck down to the hips. Worse yet, back pain has the pesky tendency to trigger other problems – unsurprisingly, perhaps, as trying to ease the strain on your back often means you’re putting more pressure on other parts of your body.
Take a look at these simple tips to find out what you can do to help ease your discomfort.
You spend at least 7 hours sleeping in your bed every single night, if not more, and this means that having a good mattress is one of the easiest and best things you can do for your back. To ensure your body weight is being evenly distributed, you might want to consider buying a memory foam mattress from Casper, a top choice for many suffering from back pain. After numerous test runs, they have created the perfect combination of four high-quality foams. The mattresses provide support for the body, optimal relief of the spine and increased comfort.
You can also improve the quality of your sleep by working on the position you sleep in. Sleeping in the wrong position can land you in something of a vicious circle, as not getting enough sleep will likely aggravate any other medical conditions you have as well. For example, lying on your side with a pillow between your knees is a variation on the embryonic position that will take a lot of pressure off your back.
Granted, moving seems like the last thing you would like to be doing – it’s awfully tempting to just lie down and hope the pain will go away. Don’t succumb to the temptation, though – exercise is actually your best friend. Brussels sprouts may not be delicious, but they are definitely nutritious. By this same token, exercise may not be too pleasant at first, but will likely be incredibly good for your back in the long term.
People experiencing back pain can benefit most from exercises concentrating on the core – especially the abdominal muscles. Stronger abdominal muscles mean less stress on the vertebrae, and that means less discomfort. Makes sense!
Many core exercises can even be done in the comfort of your own home. All you need is a mat! Two great exercises for back pain are:
If you’re experiencing back pain, crunches will be much better for you than full sit-ups, as full sit-ups tend to put more pressure on the spinal disks. Do the crunches slowly, and once you reach the final position – with your shoulder blades completely off the ground, hand folded behind your head – hold the position for 1-2 seconds and then slowly lower your body back down. Do 3 sets of 15 reps.
This exercise works on other muscles that support your back, especially your glutes and hamstrings. Lie on your back, with your knees bent and your feet on the floor. Next, raise your hips until your shoulder, hips and knees form a straight line. As with the exercise above, the trick is to hold that upright position for 5-6 seconds before slowly lowering your hips back down to the mat. Do 3 sets of 10 reps.
Before you get started with your exercises, however, keep in mind that any exercise should be preceded by a warmup! Otherwise, you could end up causing more harm than good. Doing some hip circles and gentle cat stretches is a great way to prepare your body for the exercises to follow.
Spending all day hunched over a desk is sure to wreak havoc on both your neck and your back. Luckily, though, there are a good many changes you can introduce into your everyday life to improve your posture and reduce your back pain.
For starters, make sure you’re sitting properly – your feet should rest flat on the floor, and your arms should be parallel to the floor when resting on your desk. Make sure the natural curve in your lower back is supported by your chair – if not, invest in your health by purchasing a better chair.
The kind of shoes you wear can also have an enormous effect on how your back feels. Wearing high heels, for example, causes the lower back to arch more than it should, and this can lead to tight hamstring muscles, which, can in turn cause back pain. Shoes should be more than a fashion accessory, so consider investing in some truly comfortable, supportive ones that distribute your weight evenly.
This is not to say that drinking milk will make your back pain go away in the same way that pain medication can, but an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and strong bones are less susceptible to damage.
Of course, you could simply take supplements to obtain these substances, but vitamin and mineral absorption is always better when you consume them in the foods they naturally occur in. This is also a great way to motivate yourself to start eating better altogether, which is sure to benefit your health in more ways than one. Calcium naturally occurs in dairy products you know and love, such as milk, cheese and yoghurt, as well as most leafy greens – and some of said leafy greens, such as kale, have anti-inflammatory properties as well! Vitamin D, on the other hand, is most often found in fatty fish, egg yolks, soymilk and mushrooms.
This might seem an obvious decision, but unfortunately, far too many people brush off seeing a specialist until the problem has gotten much, much worse than it ever had to be. Do not make that mistake!
Back pain doesn’t have to mean you miss out on all of the things you love doing. Follow these few simple yet effective tips and keep on enjoying your life!
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