01 Jul How to live life to the full inspite of your back pain
Back pain can happen at any age, for numerous reasons. The most important thing to remember, despite feeling sore and being majorly fed up, that it can and does get easier if you can learn what works best for you and your body.
I, somehow, managed to slip a disc at 16 years old, so from my 20 years of back pain, I’ve picked up some key learnings, mostly through hindsight. So to make sure you don’t have to learn the hard way, please allow me to share some life saving tips and tricks to get you through.
Modern medicine is incredible, surgeons can perform the most intricate life changing operations these days and pharmaceuticals are the best they have ever been. But outside working with what can sometimes map out to be a whole medical team, consisting of orthopedic specialists, physiotherapists, chiropractors as well as my Health at Hand doctor, I’ve learned that most of the time, it’s what you do in the other 23 hours a day that has the most positive and negative impact on your back and your pain levels.
So today I am happy to summarize my 20 years of back pain peaks and troughs into 5 top tips:
1. Mindset – It is so hard to pull yourself up when you are in pain and feeling sorry for yourself. The reason this is my top tip, is purely because it is the one that really will transform your recovery and day to day. They say “we are what we think” and here is no different. Allowing yourself to be consumed by your back pain is simply not productive. Certainly allow yourself moments to rest, but do what you can at all times to focus positively on elements that will aid your comfort and recovery.
2. Sitting – Today as humans we sit, a lot! Researchers say we spend around 7 hours of every day in a seat. In my mind the simple function of a sitting in a chair has a lot to do with why so many of us suffer with bad backs. The position we sit, the length of time we are seated and our limited movement all contributes to potential back issues. So try a standing desk, or simply set a timer to get up and have a walk and a stretch as often as you can, to elevate our body from the stress of sitting.
3. Sleeping – As we spend a third of our lives asleep – making sure we have the best quality sleep experience is key. Our bodies repair whilst we snooze, so first of all making sure we get enough rest every night will be key to keeping your body and mind healthy and well. If we add a supportive mattress into the mix, we are on our way to winning the battle. If you are going to invest in one thing to help you back pain – make it a new firm mattress.
4. Body awareness – It isn’t just unruly teenagers that slouch. Take some time over the next 24 hours to assess your posture. I personally find myself stood to one side when doing simple things like cleaning my teeth. I use my phone a lot, so I am spending time hunched forward with a lot of pressure on my neck. Being body aware isn’t necessarily having to be poker straight with soldier posture 24/7, but it is about checking in to see if you body is over compensating or under pressure.
5. Don’t over do it but also don’t under do it – Rest but don’t quit is one of my life motto’s and works well even for back pain. Although it maybe a bit ambitious to be signing up for your first marathon, giving up on movement all together can be just as detrimental. Find what works for you – pilates, walking, swimming are great for low impact movement. Start slowly and always listen to your body. Niggling pains are a way of your body letting you know when you are maybe pushing yourself too far. So baby steps, get yourself on a good path to recovery.
I know how tough it is, and wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy, but remember that you’ve always got options and opportunities to influence the outcome. You are not your pain, don’t let it be your prison.
If you have any questions or concerns about your health, or if you are suffering with back pain, ask your Health at Hand doctor for advice through our app that can be easily downloaded from the App Store. Click here for more information.