If you’re like 80% of Americans, there’s a good chance you either suffer or will suffer some form of back pain in your life. This is according to a study published in an issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.
Now, there’s probably also a fairly good chance you’ve tried in the past a whole host of wacky therapies in your quest for relief. Did you know some people believe that bee stings can cure back pain? Apparently, bee venom contains anti-inflammatory properties that in theory could be helpful, for the desperate that is. A study done on the feasibility of bee venom however for pain relief however revealed many risks.
So if bee venom doesn’t work, what can you do about the pain? In this article we show some methods that have actually been clinically proven to help alleviate lower back pain.
Take Up Yoga
If you’ve been experiencing pain in your lower back, doing a couple of yoga poses can help. According to a study published in the 2013 Clinical Journal of Pain, yoga allows you to stretch and strengthen the muscles that support your back, and this alleviates pain.
It’s important to note that yoga is only recommended for those with occasional soreness or aches on the back. If you have severe back pain, you should first consult your physician before doing any form of exercise. Once you get the green light, you can try one of these poses to relieve back pain.
This pose lengthens and decompress your whole spine. It also helps to stretch your hamstrings, which in turn take the pressure off your back.
- Start by placing your hands and knees on your yoga mat. This means that your knees should be directly beneath your hips. Your wrists should only be a few inches from your shoulders and your fingertips should be pointing towards the mat.
- To get into the pose, press into your hands and lift your hips away from the floor. This allows you to form a V-shape with your upper body. At this point, your feet ought to be hips-width apart and your hands shoulder-width apart.
- For an added hamstring stretch, you can try pushing your heels toward the floor. Remain in this position for 5 to 10 breaths then do the pose from scratch for five more times.
Lying Spinal Twist
Reclining or lying spinal twist is one of the more comfy poses, so it will be great for individuals who have never done yoga before.
- Start by lying on your back. Then, bend your knees into your chest area.
- Cross your right thigh over your left one in a full cross.
- Flex your feet
- Slowly lower the crossed legs to the left so that your right knee is as close to the mat as possible.
- Stretch your left forearm and place it on your right thigh. Your right arm should be stretched out on the side.
- Relax your shoulders and gaze over your right shoulder.
- Inhale and hold for 20 seconds, then repeat this exercise on your other side.
Supported plow pose
- To perform this pose, begin by lying flat on your back. Your legs should be stretched out and your arms by your sides.
- Next, raise your legs to the point that they’re perpendicular to the floor and pointing towards the ceiling.
- While pressing your arms against the floor, engage your core so that you’re able to lift your butt off the surface. Your butt should be far enough from the ground to give you enough room to support your lower back with your hands.
- Bring your chin in close proximity to your chest.
- When you feel comfortable in this position, try folding your legs so that they’re right above your head and your upper body.
- Straighten your legs as much as you can, and flex your feet to get a good hamstring stretch
- Take deep breaths, and maintain the pose for at least 20 seconds. Come out of the pose in a gradual manner.
Back pain ranges in severity from a dull, persistent ache to a sudden, sharp sensation, which can leave you incapacitated. This pain can be caused by an incident that happened once- such as lifting a heavy item- or it can develop gradually because of age-related problems.
If you experience intense levels of back pain, it’s likely that you’re using over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription painkillers. These medications are effective as they provide instant relief. Unfortunately, taking them for too long can lead to side effects. WebMD explains that both prescription and OTC can cause grave problems, from mild indigestion to kidney damage and stomach ulcers.
A safer remedy for your back pain is aromatherapy. This involves using essential oils like eucalyptus, peppermint and lavender. The benefits of these essential oils go beyond alleviating your back pain. Depending on the essential oil you use, some also help to treat insomnia and to relieve anxiety and depression. The best essential oils to use for your back pain are:
- Peppermint essential oil – it has anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties that make it ideal for relieving pain in your back.
- Eucalyptus essential oil – this is one of the most popular essential oils. Like peppermint, it has anti-inflammatory compounds that help to relieve back pain, aches and stiffness.
- Lavender essential oil – what makes lavender one of the most versatile essential oils is its capability to treat a wide range of conditions. It’s good for people who have sleep problems and anxiety. It’s also used to treat pain and headaches.
How to use essential oils to treat back pain
You can use essential oils in a variety of ways. However, nearly all applications require you to dilute the oil in some way.
Look for a carrier oil ( examples include coconut, olive, sweet almond and avocado oils), and mix it thoroughly with the essential oil. You can then use the resulting mixture to massage the affected area. The recommended proportions are one ounce of carrier oil and 10 to 30 drops of the essential oil.
Although these topical applications of essential oils are very effective, they are somewhat difficult to use for larger areas of pain. In these situations, taking a bath is a better way of getting the benefits associated with essential oils.
For this method, fill your tub almost halfway with warm water. Next, add the essential oil and soak in the bath for 20 to 30 minutes.
Get a Reclining Office Chair (135 degrees or more)
Spending the better part of your day in a seated position causes your spine to become stiff and sore. This is because, while it may feel more comfortable than standing, prolonged sitting exerts a lot of stress on your back muscles and discs. This position causes your hip flexors to tighten and places too much pressure on the gluteus maximus- a muscle that supports the spine.
Besides, the longer you sit, the higher the chances of letting your posture slide. Most of you sit when you’re slouched forward- a process that stretches your spinal ligaments beyond what they should.
If you have to sit for prolonged periods of time, the best thing you can do for your back is to get a reclining chair. As WebMD explains it, the ideal position for your back is a reclined position, preferably, a 135-degree angle as opposed to the conventional 90-degree angle. Using reclined chairs places stress on your spine, as shown in this infographic:
Source: Best Office Chairs for Back Pain– ErgonomicTrends.com
Take These Supplements
If you’re not able to treat your back pain using medications or essential oils, supplements can be a great alternative. But there’s one thing you should keep in mind: supplements are more effective when used in conjunction with a healthy diet and regular exercising.
It’s also important to note that just because a supplement is advertised as ‘natural’ doesn’t mean it’s safe. So, you should always consult a health care provider before taking any supplements. Generally, these are the most recommended supplements:
In a 2013 study cited in the Pain Physician, it was found that a severe deficiency in vitamin D is one of the causes of spinal stenosis, a condition characterized by lower back pain.
Ideally, you should be taking at least 15 micrograms of vitamin D on a daily basis. So, if you’re taking anything short of this, you’re increasing your risk of getting back pain.
Devil’s Claw extract is obtained from a native African plant known as Harpagophytum procumbens. Researchers have found that taking 50 milligrams of harpagoside, an active compound in devil’s claw, significantly reduces the risk of chronic back pain.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
This particular supplement does not treat back pain directly. Instead, it reduces inflammation, which is a common symptom of back pain. Omega-3 fatty acid supplements are available in both liquid and capsule form. However, you should always consult your physician on the right dosage since high doses of omega-3’s can lead to bleeding.
Start Chanting (I mean, Meditating)
One survey found that 53% of those with chronic back pain also suffer from insomnia. Fortunately, you can alleviate this back pain by meditating.
So, how does this work? According to one study, meditating shifts the attention of your brain and the way your body reacts. Basically, this practice trains your brain to acknowledge the back pain, accept it and not to be concerned about it.
When you meditate, you enhance your brain’s awareness of your body’s metabolisms. This is what people like to call “mindfulness”. Since your body is well aware of the aches, it’s able to find the most suitable position that aids in pain-relief. To do a basic 8-minute meditation, follow these steps:
- Find a quiet place where you can meditate from. Sit comfortably on a chair with your hands resting on your lap
- Breathe deeply; take five deep and audible breaths- inhaling through the nose and exhaling through your mouth.
- On your last exhalation, close your eyes.
- Check in- take a couple of minutes to settle into your body and observe your posture.
- Scan your body- observe your body from head to toe, taking note of any tension or discomfort you experience. Scan again and this time, pay attention to the parts of your body that feel relaxed.
- Observe your breath – slowly breath in and out as you observe it going into your body and out. Feel the rise in your stomach as you inhale, and the fall as you exhale. If you find your mind wandering, gentilly bring it back to the breath. Do not get upset if you find yourself distracted, observe and never judge.
- Do this for 10 minutes every day.
As you’ve just read, there are several things you can do on your own to help and treat your back pain. The most effective methods are doing yoga poses, replacing your traditional office chair with a reclining one, aromatherapy and meditation.