Back pain is something that affects over 60% of adults, due to society’s largely sedentary lifestyle. Poor pressure, excess weight, lack of movement, and improper body mechanics can wreak havoc on one’s spine.
Fortunately, there are a lot of effective ways to offset and even overcome back pain. Here are some considerations for improving your spinal health and quality of life.
Consider Spinal Decompression Therapy
Don’t worry; spinal decompression therapy isn’t as intimidating as it sounds. This non-surgical, non-invasive procedure is done while you’re fully clothed. During a session, you’ll lay on a special, computerized table with a harness fixed around your torso. Depending on your particular needs, the harness and table will be arranged to alleviate the pressure on your spine, improving the flow of nutrient-rich blood to your discs.
When done in conjunction with exercises to strengthen and improve mobility in your back, spinal decompression therapy can make a huge impact on how your back feels every day!
Invest in a High-Quality Mattress
There are a lot of things on which you should save your money, but a mattress isn’t one of them. Invest in a high-quality mattress which will provide lumbar and joint support to help keep your back aligned. Gel foam mattresses and adjustable mattresses are popular choices for those with back pain, as they are able to find a position that provides both support and comfort.
While looking for a mattress to fit your needs, consider how you sleep as well. Are you a side-sleeper, stomach sleeper or back sleeper? The various positions create different pressure points on your back. Consider purchasing a mattress that caters to your sleeping position.
Exercise and Stretch Regularly
The benefits of exercise in relation to back pain are two-fold. First and foremost, exercise, particularly resistance training, will strengthen the muscles in your back. Secondly, cardiovascular training improves your blood flow and delivers nutrients to your sore spots to promote effective healing.
As flexible muscles are strong muscles, it’s also important to incorporate stretching into your daily routine, even when you don’t exercise. A combination of static and dynamic stretches – stretches in which you hold a position, and stretches that involve movement, respectively – improve blood flow and reduce muscle and joint pain.
One of the most simple ways to alleviate back pain is to just hang around and do nothing, literally. Passive hanging can help you improve your grip strength (a key indicator of good health), strengthen your shoulders, and decompress your spine.
To try this exercise, all you need is a pull-up bar and your two hands. Grab the bar with your hands facing forward in a pull-up position, then hang. You may need to bend your knees if the bar is low enough that you can touch the floor. Hang for as long as possible, aiming for 30 seconds, then let go when you can’t hang on any longer. As you improve, hang on for longer periods or try wearing a weighted vest.
Remember to RICE
When the back pain gets really bad, remember to RICE – Rest, Ice, Compress and Elevate. Elevating your lower extremities will redirect blood flow to the afflicted area, and using a compression wrap or ACE bandage can help reduce inflammation.
Ice is ideal for pain, as it reduces inflammation as well. However, heat can be soothing and relax your muscles. Some health professionals will recommend one over the other while others recommend alternating between both.
Be sure to talk to your physician before starting an exercise program or when looking at spinal decompression therapy. By practicing habits that will improve your spinal health, you will improve your longevity and quality of life.