Ever heard the saying ‘got up on the wrong side of the bed this morning’? Some days this applies because you’ve awoken to a sore back which puts you in a mood all day. If you’re someone who has suffered with back issues in the past then here’s a few tips on dealing with that pesky back pain.
Step 1: Focus on quality sleep
Research undertaken last year suggests that our backs work on a 24-hour clock and disturbed sleep can be a major cause of pain. Ensuring you get a good night’s sleep is sometimes enough to reset the clock and rid yourself of the pain. Try anything and everything to up the quality of your rest from different sleeping positions to a new mattress and silky soft sheets that put you in a slumber mood. Here’s some positions to test out:
- Back sleepers: pillow under your knees
- Stomach sleepers: pillow under your pelvis
- Side sleepers: pillow between your knees
Step 2: Maintain good support
It is estimated that 1 in 6 Australians will suffer from back pain at some point during the year. Often the cause is easier than it seems such as poor posture from sitting long hours in a non-supportive chair. Office workers are obviously a high-risk group for this type of back pain but the solution is simple; upgrade your traditional office chair to a more supportive or advanced version.
Step 3: Test out natural muscle relaxers
Rosa Ghidella is the Director of Haberfield Health, an award-winning, multi-disciplinary wellness centre in Sydney. Her top tip for back pain is including magnesium in your treatment routine.
"Magnesium is essentially a very important mineral for the human body. Mainly needed to stimulate energy production within our cells, it is important as an anti-spasmodic and natural muscle-relaxant. This makes it an important mineral for supporting back pain treatments.
We recommend magnesium in 3 forms: (1) Epsom Salt bath; (2) Practitioner-grade Supplements & (3) Applying Magnesium oil to the local area. We also recommend acupuncture and remedial massage to treat chronic back pain"
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Step 4: Try anti-inflammatory agents
Aimee Clark is a food and cooking coach with Primal Influence. She suffers personally from back issues and has found bone broth to be highly effective in relieving pain.
“I have a degenerated intervertebral disc between L4 and L5 and overcame daily debilitating chronic pain through the Paleo Lifestyle and mostly.. drinking bone broth. I started drinking it about 5 years ago, about 1/2 a cup a day for two weeks, and within that time my pain disappeared. Bone broth gives us essential gelatin and collagen, amino acids and other nutrients to heal and strengthen joints, skin, nails, hair, teeth, the gut, detox us and more. It's a traditional human food source and a very potent healer in a toxic and inflammatory day and age. If people are eating highly inflammatory foods bone broth may still provide some relief and healing, but ideally reducing inflammatory foods and lifestyle elements when starting to consume bone broth is going to make the biggest impact. It's incredibly affordable and easy to make, I'm now passionate about providing education on it as it has helped me immensely and will always be a big part of my healing diet.
Before consuming bone broth it's important to seek advice from a functional nutrition practitioner in case there are amino acid and other allergies present, or it interferes with medication/supplements being taken.”
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Step 5: Consult a treatment professional
Justin Balbir is a physiotherapist with Health Point Physiotherapy in Melbourne. With a Bachelor of Health Science and a Master of Physiotherapy Practice, his advice is medically sound.
“Let’s start off by making it clear that, as physiotherapists, we do not view anyone’s back as “bad”. Emerging and mounting evidence is suggesting that, with the right exercise and treatment regime, almost anyone can improve their pain and function.
As no two individuals are alike, we cannot suggest any miracle exercises, as it may be highly beneficial for one person, but ultimately detrimental for someone else.
The key take home messages for anyone dealing with back pain are the following:
· Your back is NOT broken – even if your MRI results say it is
· You generally do not even need to get an MRI unless your healthcare professional is worried there is something more sinister going on, or conservative management has not had any effect
· An active recovery is always better than bed rest
· Ultimately, exercise (potentially with some other therapeutic modalities such as manual therapy or massage) will be your best recovery tool.”
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Step 6: Experiment with both hot and cold
Applying heat or cold to an area experiencing pain is an age-old remedy. But which is better for back pain? Typically cold therapy (i.e. ice packs) are better at bringing down inflammation or swelling while heat therapy (i.e. heating pads) are ideal at reducing tension, cramps and muscle spasms. However, you should experiment with both styles to see which works better for you.
The main advice for treating a bad back would have to be to relax. It’s probably not as terrible as you think and there’s a range of easy treatment options you can try before resigning yourself to a life of grumpy back trouble.