So you feel like you have tried everything: Ice, heat, epsom salt baths, muscle relaxants, PT, acupuncture, IMS, massage, but nothing seems to work. Your chronic back pain keeps coming back and knocking you down and for a day, a week, a month at a time…
Many times people with chronic back pain never bother to really look into the source of the problem, so their undisclosed injury never really gets better.
Here are some suggestions that might help you deal with that nagging back pain once and for all:
- Seek a True Diagnosis
If you’re in the group who has had back issues on and off for years, it might be worth getting an MRI to see if there’s something going on in there that you don’t know about. Maybe your back pain isn’t stemming from your rib that slips out of place from time to time that allegedly causes your muscles to spasm, after all. Maybe you have a bulging or slipped disc you need to deal with…If it’s not going away, consider an MRI.
- Check Your Sleep
Sleeping injuries are no joke. Sleeping in bad positions, or with bad pillows, can cause legitimate injuries.
As for positions, it’s pretty well-known that sleeping on your stomach can cause neck pain. Others have back issues when they sleep on their backs unless they put a pillow under their knees. (Read more here: https://www.cnn.com/2016/03/18/health/sleep-positions-good-bad/index.html). Everyone is different, so no one size fits all, but it’s worth experimenting with sleep positions.
As for pillows, selecting the appropriate style might also have something to do with whether you’re a stomach, back or side sleeper. Expert consensus is that back sleepers should sleep with thinner pillows, so their head doesn’t get thrown too far forward, while side sleepers are better off with larger, firmer pillows to fill in the distance between the ear and outside shoulder. And if you’re a stomach sleeper, a thin, almost flat pillow is probably best. Some recommend no pillow for stomach sleepers.
- Don’t Sit for 8 Hours Unbroken
Often times back pain simply stems from—or at least is massively aggravated—by sitting too long. Set a timer to remind yourself to get up once an hour if it helps, but the point is, if you’re someone who sits all day at work, it’s important to stand up and move around. Spending five minutes foam rolling and stretching multiple times a day might also help. Another option a couple of my clients have had success with: A standing desk. It’s not for everyone, but it is an option.
- Hire a Coach
This is where we come in. Our coaches and PT’s can help you figure out if there are any muscle imbalances, or muscle tightness, that’s contributing to your pain. Are your glutes or abdominals just really weak, or your hip flexors or hamstrings really tight? Sometimes back pain stems from somewhere else in your body that needs work. We’ll provide you a plan of attack to iron out weaknesses that might be contributing to your undiagnosed pain.
Along the same lines, here are some things you can try doing at home if you think your weak glutes or weak abs, tight hamstrings or hips are leading to your back pain.
Weak Glutes: Do 50-100 glute bridges, 50-100 clamshells on each leg and 50-100 bird dogs every morning when you wake up.
Weak Abs: Spend 5 minutes in a deadbug, bent hollow or hollow hold position every morning. Focus on building as much tension in your body as you can as you hold the position.
Tight glutes/hamstrings/hips: There are tons of great stretches out there. Kelly Starrett is one health professional who does a great job breaking down the importance of stretching, flexibility and mobility. His videos are easy to find, but here are three good ones that address these areas of the body:
- Fix your posture
Often times undisclosed back pain comes from poor posture, and I’m not just talking about slouching. The problem might even start at your feet. Being pigeon-toed or having tight ankles, for example, can lead to less than ideal posture, and ultimately hip or back pain.
- Are you wearing stupid shoes?
Although those stilettos are sexy, they might be causing your back pain. The same is true of flip flops and sandals. If you’re in pain and wear dumb shoes, it might be worth considering prioritizing health and pain-free living over fashion…
- Lose Weight?
Is the pressure you’re putting on your back from being overweight the main source of the problem? It could very well be.
Contact us and we’ll help you with your nutrition—we’ll get you food prepping and fuelling your body with the right foods for you—to help you improve your body composition so that your body starts functioning more optimally, and with less pain.