Back Pain: Essential Dos and Don’ts
Back pain is one of the most common health complaints there is. While it is sometimes caused by direct illness or injury, the most common cause is just plain old wear and tear. Our backs are constantly vulnerable, which means we can harm them without even knowing we are doing it – until the aches and pains kick in a few days later.
Managing back pain is a multi-step process, with the most important factors being what you don’t do. Not only are we going to outline what you should avoid, but also offer a few ideas of what might help instead.
That might seem like a strange statement. After all, most of us have it hammered into us: if we’re hurting, then we should rest to prevent further strain and injury… right?
In the case of a specific injury (such as a slipped disc) then rest might be a good idea, for the very short term. However, if your back is troubling you with no specific injury and just the general aches of life, then rest is about the worst thing that you can do. You have to keep your back active to allow it to heal and – most importantly – to strengthen. For every moment you spend lying down waiting for the pain to subside, the likelihood increases that it’s going to get worse rather than better.
DO: Gentle Exercise
No one is suggesting that you should head off on a 5K run when your back is painful. Instead, switch in gentle exercise where you have an element of control over what you’re doing. Yoga, pilates, and swimming are all fantastic choices, while consulting an inversion table guide could give you a good overview of the alternative choices available.
DON’T: Use Heat
Putting heat on a damaged part of the body is fairly standard, but it’s little more than a placebo. The heat acts as a distraction from the pain by confusing the nerves in the area; rarely does it actually relax the muscles. If you use heat at the wrong times, it can actually make things worse.
DO: Take A Hot Bath With Magnesium
Magnesium flakes or Epsom salts are by far the best option when it comes to aiding muscles. Magnesium is wonderful for easing aches and pains. When you use it in the form of magnesium chloride (most often marketed as ‘magnesium flakes’ – but do check packaging) it’s also absorbed transdermally – through the skin. So it’s a supplement that you soak in – what could be easier? By all means make the bath warm for an immediate relief from pain, while letting the magnesium get to work for the long term.
DON’T: Rely On Medication
When you start down the road of taking painkillers for back pain, it’s a one-way street to dependency. There are ways and means of managing the discomfort that don’t result in a lifelong need for tablets just to get out of bed.
DO: Try TENS Machines
TENS machines might be best known for their use during labor, but they are great for all types of pain. Look for a small unit that you can fasten to your waist beneath clothes; it can do its thing while you go on with your day undisturbed.
Image Credit: Woman Swimming