I was riding home from my college class on my single-speed bike when a Ford Explorer suddenly turned out in front of me.
There was nothing I could do. Seconds later I was laying in the middle of the road in incredible pain.
After 18 months of intense Chiropractic care and Physical Therapy, I was able to get back to normal life without constant back pain and headaches.
They still haunt me, but now I know how to manage them with stretching and diet.
I Hope You Haven’t Been Hit By A Car
All of us have some type of back injury. Maybe we fell down on the ice three years ago. Maybe we tweaked our back on the golf course last week.
The first thing to realize is that your current back pain is not the result of just one event. It is a culmination of all of your injuries, flaring up at once.
Sure, helping your brother move his piano yesterday didn’t help, but the back pain you have today is also because you helped him move his library last year.
The trick is to help you back find healing. Your back wants to heal. You just have to help it overcome the scar tissue to do so.
Unless you take proactive action to heal your back, the end result may be just as bad as if you were in a major accident
The Three Phases Of Back Pain Rehabilitation
Before I get into the 5 Steps, Let me give you a quick overview of what “Back Pain Rehab” looks like.
Phase 1: Acute Phase
This is where your doctor starts. They need to diagnose the pain and help you get some immediately relief.
Typically you will rely on ice for swelling and anti-inflammatories. In addition muscle relaxants may be prescribed to help the muscles relax.
Ultrasounds and X-Rays are often used to help them diagnose the problem.
Phase 2: Recovery Phase
This is what the majority of you are looking for. “How can I get rid of this pain?”
For this phase, massage is often used to help remove knots and undo as much scar tissue and muscle seizing as is possible.
Stretches are often incorporated to help the muscles retrain into their proper patterns of striation.
And then weight training is introduced to strengthen the muscles against recurring injuries and to ensure normal function for daily activities.
Phase 3: Maintenance Phase
This is so critical.
All too often, we make the mistake of forgetting to take care of ourselves unless we are in acute pain.
Regular exercising and stretching throughout the day can help us stave off repetitive workplace injuries.
In addition, we may need to relearn how to move in order to keep from re-injuring a weak place in our back.
What Is Causing Your Back Pain?
If you are unsure what is causing your back pain, you would do well to consult a physician.
Simple injuries — such as a sprained muscle — can often be treated with these remedies. However, stuff like Kidney Stones, Spinal Stenosis, Osteoarthritis and Ovarian Tumors aren’t just going to stretch away.
Sure, stretching may help some of these (like osteoarthritis), but you are still going to need a physician to help with pain management.
For more detail on these other, more serious, back problems, and potential modes of treatment, check out my other article Lower Left Back Pain.
Step # 1 – Stretching
It seems almost too simple, doesn’t it.
Ideally, you live in an area where you can attend a yoga class. I find yoga to be one of the best ways to help my back pain. A full, hour-long yoga session is going to stretch virtually every muscle in y our body, and is a great way top help you rebalance your entire back .
Here’s One Of My Favorite Videos Of Yoga You Can Do At Home For Back Pain
Barring an hour-long session, I find stretching for 5 minutes every hour throughout the day can start to do absolute miracles. I can go from calling in sick with back pain that is confining me to bed to being fully functional by early afternoon.
Just set your alarm, and every hour do stretches that target the problem area.
This is actually a great practice to have, anyhow, and is a sure-fire way to keep backpain at bay.
Stretching seems too cliche’ and simple, but it sure does work!
Step # 2 Massage
Sometimes your muscles are so seized that the fascia actually becomes “knotted” and refuses to let the muscles move freely. This is especially true with pin-point or “trigger” pain that is localized to a specific spot.
Most people associate massage therapy with a “back rub”. Massage is actually, much, much more intense and can actually be slightly painful as these knots are released.
However, it repeatedly gives the greatest, most immediate relief. And then, if you continue to work with your stretching, your muscles are free to stretch and reform to their correct shape, helping to eliminate future problems.
Massage is one of the more expensive options, but I have found it to be the most beneficial for tight muscles and back pain. For recurring back pain, you may wish to combine it with physical therapy and chiropractic care to help the muscles throughly relearn their correct movement and overcome scar tissue and fascia binding.
Step # 3 – Hydration
Ok, too simple, isn’t it? You are about to click off of this page, aren’t you?
By itself, hydration will not fix your back pain. However, when you are even slightly dehydrated, muscles can grind on each other or on existing scar tissue. Then they become inflamed. Then you are in pain. Which causes you to act and move differently to compensate. Which then causes even more muscle damage and inflammation.
Muscles are 75% water. They need it. Desperately.
In fact, I can tell when I haven’t had enough water — simply by how bad my back is hurting. Mine is a trigger pain from some knots that we’ve never been able to fully work out.
While your pain may not be as noticeable as mine, you can be assured that if you aren’t getting insane amounts of water into your body (8 glasses a day is the minimum) your back is suffering.
Furthermore, as you do these stretches and massage, you muscles will want to flush out the damaged fascia and cell toxins. Without ample water, they can’t do that. Nor can they stretch the way they should.
Get water. A lot of water. Your back will thank you.
Step # 4 Posture
I would say that a solid 90% of what we do throughout the day is forward facing. We face forward when driving. We use our computers all day long while sitting and facing forward. And then in the evenings we sink in the couch and relax with TV.
Two major things are happening. First of all, our pectoralis muscles are shortening, causing our shoulders to pull inward. This then triggers pain in the back. To fight this, you need to make sure that you have accurate, upright posture. Consciously pull your shoulders back through the day. Practice until it becomes natural.
Secondly, our hip flexors shorten as we sit all day long. This makes our body better as sitting — but worse at life. These tight hip flexors are now pulling on our back and the pectoralis muscles are pulling on the back and — it is no wonder that we have back pain.
I work a desk job, so every few hours, I do a few of these things to fight eroding posture:
- Neck Stretches
- Hamstring Stretches
- Glute Stretches
- Pectoralis Stretches
- Standing Instead Of Sitting
Step # 5 Exercise
I’m talking about one specific exercise:
There are a lot of specific exercises you can do for your back that will help it. But when you swim, your bones and muscle are floating. They are virtually non-weight bearing. So as you swim, your body is able to shift them and re-align them naturally.
Plus, it strengthens your muscles, helping them to resist future injury.
Both myself and others have experienced dramatic improvement in our back pain by consistently swimming.
Walking is another excellent exercise.
It is low-impact, and — especially for low back pain sufferers — walking can help re-align the back and relieve tight muscles and pinched nerves. I have found walking to be especially helpful for sciatica pain.
Weight training with light weights and slow, deliberate movements can also help you target and stregthen problem areas. However, this is a more customized course of action that really should receive some oversight by a therapist.