At some point or another, everyone experiences a terrible backache. Whether it be only for an hour or a chronic pain that plagues you for years, back pain can seriously affect not only your health, but your mind + spirit as well.
So where does back pain come from?
The cause of back pain can vary widely: from an exercise-related injury, to stress, to even the clothes you wear. It is important to reflect on what might have created the discomfort, especially since many body problems actually began a while ago and were left untreated for too long.
TIPS FOR BACK PAIN:
1. Stretch, stretch, stretch!
Much of the discomfort in our back is from our muscles not having a chance to recover from the stress + strain of the day. Try to stretch for at least 5 minutes right when you wake up in the morning and you will give your body a head start! Also stretching for 5 minutes before bed can ease joints, help heal tense muscles and allow you to hit the hay feeling relaxed.
2. Get into yoga!
Before I started doing yoga, I had a lot of back problems. In fact, I kept using my back pain as an excuse to not get into yoga. It wasn’t until a dear friend (and yoga instructor) told me that yoga is meant for people with aches + pains. The feeling of discomfort is our body telling us we need to gently activate it, filling it with breath, heat and movement. Once I became serious about my practice, my back pain significantly decreased.
3. Drink more water!
I know that I am somewhat crazy about water but it is with good reason! We are made of at least 60% water and without constantly replenishing our liquids, we become not only dehydrated, but dry + brittle in our bones. In Ayurveda, water not only quenches our thirst, but keeps our organs functioning properly, flushes toxins out of our body and provides lubrication for our muscles + bones. Make sure to have at least 8-10 glasses of water a day for optimum results.
4. Get a bra fitting!
This may not apply to all of my readers, but if you wear a bra most of the time, it is important to make sure it actually fits properly! Around 80% of women wear an incorrect bra size and while I am not a fan of the body policing around this issue, I do know (from personal experience) that wearing a ill-fitted bra can cause serious back pain, especially for us larger chested folks. Most department stores, as well as Victoria’s Secret have free bra fitting services (and you don’t have to buy their expensive bras if you don’t want to!) And while we are on the topic of brassieres, replacing them at least once or twice a year will help support your breasts + your back.
5. Follow an anti-inflammatory diet!
Eating inflammatory foods can not only upset your stomach, but can create swelling, discomfort and pain in your organs, tissues, muscles + bones. Recent studies have shown that eating an anti-inflammatory diet can help with arthritis, acne, allergies, irritable bowel syndrome and chronic back pain. For more information on following an anti-inflammatory diet, The Conscious Life posted an introductory article and as far as further reading, The Anti-Inflammation Diet and Recipe Book is a great place to start.
6. Work on your posture!
I know that for me, this is one of the hardest things to remember. Even with my yoga and meditation practice, keeping my back straight and shoulders un-hunched is tough. Add the stress of trying to get by under capitalism and no wonder we hold so much tension in our backs, shoulders + necks! Amber from Epic Self has a great video for a neck and shoulder release exercise as well as a 3-minute energy + posture boosting video.
7. Take a long, hot bath!
If you are lucky enough to have a bathtub, use it! A nice, hot bath can soothe tension in your muscles, calm your nerves + warm your spirit. Adding epsom salts can help draw toxins out of the body, improve nerve function + reduce inflammation, giving you a medical reason to take that soak! Add two cups of the salt to your bath and relax for at least 20 minutes, preferably a few times a week. Watch your back pain (and your stress) gently float away…
8. Try some acupuncture!
While I am not the biggest fan of needles (I can’t get my blood taken without passing out!), I don’t underestimate the healing power of acupuncture. Both local (at the site of the pain) and distal (away from the site of pain) needle placements can help alleviate acute and/chronic back problems. Check your area for “community acupuncture” services, which is acupuncture done on multiple people in the same room. The benefits from the community services are the same, just with lower prices.
9. Get a massage!
If you can afford it (and boy, am I envious!) go out and get a massage. ASAP. In fact, whether it is for chronic back pain, an exercise-related injury, or just a build-up of stress + tension in your body, a massage is one of the best remedies available. Of course, I would recommend an Ayurvedic massage, but any type of massage would be beneficial. In addition to relieving the pain, massage is one of the best ways to loosen + expel toxins all throughout your body. Just make sure you drink lots of water afterward!
10. Make a castor oil pack!
Castor oil packs are AMAZING. Seriously. They heal sore muscles, reduce inflammation, promote elimination of toxins and improve lymphatic circulation. Not to mention they feel wonderful while lying down, listening to soothing music and breathing deeply!
To make a castor oil pack:
1. Place strips of fabric (old flannel, cotton or wool scraps that have been cut) into an oven-safe pan.
2. Pour a liberal amount of castor oil into the pan to saturate the strips and place pan in the oven
3. When strips are hot (time + temperature varies), remove from oven, let them cool slightly and place on the part of your back that is affected.
4. Put a piece of plastic (such as a piece of garbage bag) on top of the strips.
5. Place a hot water bottle or heating pad on top of the plastic and leave all layers on for at least one hour.
After using the castor oil pack, you can store the items in a bag and use them any time you need some pain-relieving pleasure! To step it up a notch, you could infuse the castor oil with medicinal herbs tailored to your body type + ailment, but I will just have to leave that for another time!
Stay Happy + Healthy,