Health Banish back pain, Power up your pos­i­tive think­ing

Why ditch­ing your poor life­style habits could be all you need to fi­nally ditch that nig­gling pain

Woman’s Day (Australia) - - Contents -

Whether you’re struck by sharp jolts of pain or of­ten feel a dull, heavy ache across your lower back, you’re just one of the es­ti­mated 80 per cent of Aussies who suf­fer some form of back pain dur­ing their life­time.

The trou­ble is, “non-spe­cific back pain”, as it’s of­ten de­scribed, is dif­fi­cult to di­ag­nose, can linger long-term and suf­fer­ers of­ten give up seek­ing treat­ment and just ac­cept the pain as part of their life.

With re­search now show­ing that painkillers are of­ten in­ef­fec­tive, per­sis­tent back pain can be an ag­o­nis­ing re­al­ity for many and a lead­ing cause of de­pres­sion and anx­i­ety.

But in many cases, life­style tweaks could be all your back needs to get back to nor­mal. Stop suf­fer­ing in si­lence and dis­cover which healthy changes could banish that dodgy back for good…


Smok­ers are three­hree times more likely to ex­pe­ri­enceence chronic back pain thann non-smok­ers, and if that’s no­tot a good rea­son to quit, we don’t know what is! Re­search showsws that smok­ing changes the way th the b braini re­sponds and deals with pain, mak­ing smok­ers less re­silient to the mis­ery of back­ache.

“Nico­tine also re­stricts blood flow to the discs that cush­ion your ver­te­brae and can in­crease the rate of de­gen­er­a­tion,” ex­plains ex­er­cise phys­i­ol­o­gist Dr Jar­rod Meerkin. DO IT TO­DAY Th There are count­less books, p pod­casts and apps out there to helphl you quit if for good, but we love Quit Smok­ing With An­drew John­son, $4.49 from the App Store. Us­ing sim­ple hyp­no­sis tech­niques to help break your habit, it’s one of the most re­lax­ing ways to quit.


An el­e­vated BMI puts you at four times greater risk of back pain, as well as other health com­pli­ca­tions in­clud­ing heart dis­ease, type 2 di­a­betes and can­cer.

“Be­ing over­weight in­creases the load through your lower spine discs,” says Sydney-based chi­ro­prac­tor, Dr Greg Sher.

“Car­ry­ing ex­tra weight – es­pe­cially around your mid­sec­tion – shifts your en­tire cen­tre of grav­ity for­ward and puts ad­di­tional strain on your back mus­cles, mus­cles,” adds Jar­rod. Ouch! DO IT TO­DAY StretchS more! The free 6 Minute Back Pain Re­lief app is a g great place to start as it’s packe packed with sim­ple and ef­fec­tive stretches. Book an ap­point­ment with your GP, too – you’ll need to up your ex­er­cise reg­i­men to lose weight, but speak to an ex­pert first to see what pre­cau­tions they would rec­om­mend to pro­tect your spine and joints.


Are you hunch­ing over your desk as you read this? Then lis­ten up – and straighten up while you’re at it! While poor pos­ture won’t lead to a bad back right away, pro­longed hunch­ing and bend­ing over can place strain on your spine and cause pain as your blood v ves­sels and nerves b be­come re­stricted.

“Poor pos­ture causes the mus­cles and discs in our spines to stretch and stretch, un­til one day it al­most feels like the elas­tic snaps,” ex­plains Greg. DO IT TO­DAY Start mov­ing! “Change pos­tures of­ten and never do the same thing repet­i­tively,” says Greg. “Sit­ting loads the discs in your back sig­nif­i­cantly more than stand­ing, so stand up at least twice every hour and move about, do­ing some gen­tle stretches.”


The last thing you feel like do­ing when you’re bat­tling a bad back

is ex­er­cise, but stay­ing ac­tive is vi­tal. Many ex­perts agree that yoga is most ef­fec­tive at treat­ing back pain – by stretch­ing your mus­cles, you’ll not only soothe the pain, you can also re­duce any arthritic symp­toms and help ease the de­pres­sion and anx­i­ety that’s so of­ten a side ef­fect. DO IT TO­DAY Down­load the Yin Y Yoga app, $10.99. SuitableS for both be­gin­nersb and sea­soneds yo­gis, YinY yoga is a slow-paced­slow paced stylesty that’s great for im­prov­ing flex­i­bil­ity, strength­en­ing your core and back mus­cles, and boost­ing your men­tal well­be­ing all in one go.


Be­lieve it or not, wor­ry­ing about your bad back can make it worse.

“Back pain caused by anx­i­ety is ex­tremely com­mon, and one of the main rea­sons peo­ple end up seek­ing help for their anx­i­ety,” says Jar­rod. “The pain is mostly sec­ondary – mean­ing anx­i­ety doesn’t lit­er­ally cause your back pain, but it can in­crease mus­cle ten­sion, which in turn in­creases pain.” DO IT TO­DAY Check out the n new “pain m man­age­ment p pack” on the free Headspace m med­i­ta­tion app. Re­searchR hh has foundf that mind­ful­ness ex­er­cises (such as med­i­ta­tion) can re­duce pain in­ten­sity in over 62 per cent of cases. And not only will a lit­tle med­i­ta­tion help soothe your aching back, it’s proven to boost your men­tal health too!

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