How To Heal Your Low Back

by
Dr. Ariel Thorpe

"My back is killing me!" Have you said that before? The nagging, prolonged feeling of pain in your back. Maybe it has come and gone over the years. You may have tried "everything" to get it better and still it persists. The problem may not be that your back is killing you but that you are killing your back. So, what is there to do?

First, you must identify the stressors in your life that are contributing to your pain. Back pain doesn't come out of nowhere. There is always a root cause. These may be:

  • Sitting for prolonged periods of time, likely in poor posture. Long work hours on a computer allow us to stay sedentary for too long. This causes the body to fatigue. When the body fatigues, the muscles along your spine can't do their best work anymore and you end up in a compromised posture.
  • Lack of movement and exercise. After long days of work, we often feel too tired to workout.
  • An old injury was never properly cared for and compensations in the body are now bothering you.
  • Emotional stress is prohibiting you from doing the things you love and as a result, you are paralyzed and unable to let loose.
  • A build up of toxins in the body resulting from a poor diet can cause physical pain in the spine.

Then, you must decide how much you really want to solve the problem. Masking pain can be done with pain killers but it does not address the underlying issues. If you're not determined to solve the root problem, you will continue to yo-yo between being in and out of pain. Think about the parts of your life that are affected by this: your work, your leisure time, your workouts, your self-care, your family life. What would life look like if you dealt with the underlying issue causing your low back to flare up? How would that change your relationship to your work? Would you finally be able to participate in the sports you've been neglecting? Would your family see a happier version of you? Use those images of a better life to drive you toward solving this problem.

Finally, you need the tools to address the cause of the problem. If you haven't already solved it on your own, chances are you will need some help and support. Fortunately for you, chiropractors are available to help. Follow these tips to move toward healing:

  • Get checked for subluxations in your spine. This is what chiropractors focus on. If there is a joint in your spine that is not moving well due to fixation, scar tissue, tight muscles, or inflammation, it may need to be adjusted. Only chiropractors assess for subluxations and adjust the spine when necessary.
  • Move around more throughout your day. Ideally, we alternate between bouts of sitting, standing, and moving through a variety of positions. Try to keep your body active, even during your work hours. Take regular breaks, ideally 3 times per hour. It doesn't have to be a long break. Even just walking across the room or doing 3 air squats will do the trick.
  • Exercise even if you're tired. Yes, we need sleep and recovery, but we also need enough of a challenge to our bodies to keep the blood flowing and the neurology firing. If you are in acute pain keeping you from doing even basic exercises, ask your chiropractor what specific movements are appropriate for you.
  • Stretch and foam roll your muscles to increase blood flow and improve mobility. This may include focusing on parts of your body far from the site of pain. Creating better circulation and motion in your neck can have a knock on effect in your low back. Every part of your body is connected, so caring for any part of your body will help the rest of it.
  • Find solutions to your emotional stressors. If you are in a stressful personal or professional relationship, talk to the person directly about the issue in order to resolve it. If that is not possible, consider spending less time with them so they have less of an impact on your mental health. If you are worried about something, talk to someone about it. It will feel better to let it out.
  • Focus on adding healthy foods to your diet. It is always easier to fill up on healthy food than to just cut foods out. Before you have a treat, treat yourself to 5 servings of vegetables and then see how hungry for that unhealthy food you really are. This will help the tissues around your low back strengthen and heal.

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