By Jessica Hegg
Are you struggling with back pain?
For older adults especially, sustained back pain relief can seem like a far-off dream. The reality is, however, that while over 80% of people worldwide experience back pain, less than 1% have a serious or permanent condition that requires medical intervention. The good news? You have control over alleviating your back pain - and with a handful of helpful tips and exercises (for any time of the day), you’ll be on your way to comfort and relief. In the Morning
Is lower back pain a common complaint when you wake up in the morning? Easing into an increase of motion in the morning by stretching mobilizes your spine and allows muscles and joints to become loose. Don’t forget these morning stretching tips:
- Wear loose fitting clothing that allows for full range of motion
- Stretch on a clean flat surface with enough room for you to move around
- Ease into a stretch slowly and hold for 20 to 30 seconds (bouncing can cause muscle tears or strains)
- Repeat stretches for full effect
- Talk with your GP about what stretches are most effective for your pain
During the Day
A multitude of actions you take during the day, from physical activity to diet and even being mindful of how much you sit, can contribute to alleviating regular back pain.
- Moderate exercise that strengthens your back muscles, improves your flexibility and boosts blood circulation is a daily must for addressing inflammation and tension in your back, neck and shoulders. Try 20 - 45 minute brisk walks, dancing, water aerobics, going for a bike ride, even pushing a lawnmower - activities that get your heart rate up and make you sweat have innumerable health benefits including battling back pain.
- Avoid sitting in one place for extended periods of time - doing so puts significant pressure on the spine and can strain and inflame back muscles. Battle back pain caused by being sedentary by getting up to walk, stretch and move around every 30 or 45 minutes you spend sitting.
- Promote strong bones that support healthy back muscles by eating a balanced diet that incorporates calcium rich foods like whole milk, sardines, cabbage and broccoli. If you are carrying extra weight, especially around your midsection, your center of gravity can be shifted forward and place extra strain on your back muscles. A healthy diet that combats weight gain and obesity is key for preventing back pain too.
- Avoid sustained bodily stress and carrying heavy loads. Working in the garden or at the farm? Bending over for long periods of time puts your back muscles and spine under a lot of strain. Don’t forget to get up, take a break, and stretch those muscles out to avoid strains and muscle tears. Trying to carry all the shopping in on one arm? Distribute the weight load evenly or use a rolling cart/bag to save your back muscles the trouble of compensating for the extra weight, which leads to inflammation and soreness.
A bad night’s sleep can undo any actions you took that day towards battling back pain. Promote healthy and pain-free back function when you:
- Sleep on a mattress that provides firm support and strong spine alignment.
- Find a sleeping position that helps maintain the natural curve in your spine, whether it’s sleeping on your back with a pillow under your knees, on your stomach with a pillow under your pelvis, or on your side with a pillow between your knees.
- Distress and practice self-care before you go to bed. Avoid staring at a screen (tv or smartphone) right before you go to sleep, promote feelings of positivity and confidence to combat stress, and self soothe by rubbing lotion on your hands or feet to ease yourself into a restful state.
Feeling empowered to tackle your back pain for good? Talk with your doctor about what exercises and habit adjustments could be most effective for you, and don’t forget the power of staying active. As an aging senior, regular activity is the key to both relieving pain and preventing future injury or pain.
Author Bio Jessica Hegg is the content manager at ViveHealth.com. Interested in all things related to living a healthy lifestyle she works to share valuable information aimed at overcoming obstacles and improving the quality of life for others.