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
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…
QUIT SMOKING OKING
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.
LOSE SOME WEIGHT
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.
f WORK ON YOUR POSTURE
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.”
TAKE UP YOGA
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!