- The drugs don’t work – no surprise there then!
- Are you doing your bit for a better back?
- Discover the five surprising ways to achieve a pain free life
Are you a martyr to back pain?
Waking every morning and making those first small movements to see whether you’re going to suffer or not?
Thinking twice about bending down to pick the post off of the mat?
I share your pain!
As a sufferer myself, I’ve written many emails on this subject since I began The Good Life Letter.
And I’ve had plenty of fascinating emails back from fellow back pain victims too.
One thing that we all seem to agree on is that unless we are convinced our spine is broken then going to the GP is a waste of time for back pain.
So many of you tell me that prescription pain pills don’t make a difference, and that trying to get an MRI scan or physiotherapist appointment is an impossibility.
Interestingly it seems that the most popular pain killers have been shown to be ineffective against our problem.
A report(1) published in The Lancet (the doctors own journal) says that prescribing paracetamol for low back pain is a waste of time.
I may be paraphrasing a little there but the actual conclusion of this wide ranging study was “Regular paracetamol is the recommended first-line analgesic for acute low-back pain; however, no high-quality evidence supports this recommendation.”
So if the most widely provided pain killer doesn’t work how can you deal with back pain?
Well, here’s five natural ways to cope that I have collected over the years – some might surprise you.
Five surprising ways to a better back
There are no magic therapies or potions when your back feel like its being kicked by imps wearing hobnail boots with spikes in the toe ends.
But by using some of these strategies you might be able to avoid the worst attacks.
- Improve the quality of your sleep
Sleep is incredibly important for our bodies to heal and approximately 2/3 of patients with chronic back pain suffer from sleep disorders. Paradoxically, inadequate sleep can make back pain worse. This vicious cycle makes it ineffective to treat just one of the problems.
So, using relaxation techniques, natural herbs to aid relaxation and avoiding caffeine or alcohol before bedtime will all help you to a more restful night.
- Hot & cold therapy
Knowing when to use heat or ice is a bit of a skill, and leaves most of us confused.
The basic rule of thumb is that any injury that involves inflammation needs icing, and any that involves a muscle in spasm needs heat – but in both cases the experts all agree that a combination of heat and cold is often the best solution.
So alternate 20 minutes cycles of a warm hot water bottle with 20 minutes of a bag of frozen peas wrapped in a damp tea towel for the best results – and don’t overlook the benefits of a soak in a hot bath either.
- Simple exercises make a huge difference
Now, I’m not talking about sweaty sessions down the gym here – just some really easy stretches that will make your body feel so much better.
First, working on your hamstrings will reduce the load in your lower back so cross one leg in front of the other and put your hands on the knee and slide down the shin until you feel the stretch in the back of your leg. Hold it for a count of five and straighten up, repeat twice more and marvel at how much closer to your feet your hands get by the end. Cross the opposite leg over and repeat the whole exercise again.
Next the core: Millions of pounds (and even more dollars) have been made by so called experts developing programmes to strengthen the core muscles… and they are invariably rubbish! Two really easy ways are as follows;
Pelvic tilts; lie on your back with your arms flat by your sides, now try to pull the top of your pelvis up to your belly button by tightening the muscles in your tummy (believe me there are some there!) hold it for a count of five and then relax. Do this five times in the morning and at night when you are in bed.
Leg lifts; again lying on your back but this time with your arms crossed over your chest lift each leg just off of the floor (about an inch) and hold for a count of five, repeat with alternate legs three times each then try to finish by lifting both legs at the same time.
- Boost your feel good factor
We all know that any form of pain is really depressing but giving in to it starts a downward spiral that will be difficult to get out of; so increasing your natural endorphin levels is really important.
These chemicals are the bodies feel good messengers and can be triggered by laughter, companionship and even certain foods (such as chocolate!)
Doing all in your power to make light of life and enjoy social occasions will reap huge benefits.
- Engage with your body
You are part way there already just by reading the Good Life Letter but finding out more about how our bodies work and what we can do to affect them is a great way to avoid problems.
Relying on the GP is false hope; for one thing they just don’t have the time.
Researching and discovering new home remedies will be both rewarding and also allow you to discover what works for your body. Pain relief can be achieved by so many methods and we all react differently to any intervention that what works for one person doesn’t necessarily do the same for someone else.
Understanding why your body is hurting is often the beginning of dealing with the pain, so keep reading the Good Life Letter for more tips, insights and advice…
…there may not always be a cure but at least you might gain the information that helps you seek the correct help.
Yours as always
(1) Williams, C. M., Maher, C. G., Latimer, J., McLachlan, A. J., Hancock, M. J., Day, R. O., & Lin, C. W. C. (2014). Efficacy of paracetamol for acute low-back pain: a double-blind, randomised controlled trial. The Lancet.