GOT YOUR BACK
Osteopath and education director at the College of Naturopathic Medicine (CNM) Bobby Qureshi reveals how you can take a holistic approach to back pain
AROUND ONE IN THREE ADULTS CURRENTLY EXPERIENCE BACK PAIN IN THE UK EVERY YEAR. BUT MANAGING THAT PAIN DOESN’T NEED TO MEAN TURNING TO MEDICATIONS THAT ARE ONLY SUPPRESSING THE SYMPTOMS AND NOT ADDRESSING THE CAUSE...
Ongoing stresses cause muscles in the back to tighten up, which creates tension and potentially inflammation in the spinal joints.
Breathing exercises can be eective at reducing muscle tension and improving blood circulation around your body. Place one hand on your abdomen and the other on your chest. Slowly breathe in, while trying to encourage all of the movement to come from your stomach (not from your chest until the end of the inhale), before slowly breathing out through pursed lips – imagine you are blowing out a candle. Do this process for five minutes every day, whenever it’s convenient.
Ensure that your body is moving every day, and exercise three to four times a week. With most causes of back pain, movement is essential to encourage a good healing response. Try stretching your back at least every other day. Knee hugs and back rotations should do the job.
Muscles and joints are filled with water, and they rely on the constant presence of that water to nourish tissues with nutrients and to remove wastes. Make sure you’re drinking at least two litres a day. You could also add unprocessed salt to warm water first thing in the morning to introduce a range of key minerals into your body.
TAKE YOUR VITS
More and more research is highlighting the link between vitamin D deficiencies and long-term musculoskeletal pain. Even in back pain, a lack of vitamin D could be a key contributing factor. We get most of our vitamin D from sunlight, so try and get safe levels of sun exposure. You can also eat foods such as wild salmon, mackerel, sardines and sun-exposed mushrooms. Supplementing with vitamin D3, especially during the darker winter months, is also recommended.
TRY TOPICAL TREATMENTS
Devil’s Claw, a herbal supplement, can be used in a gel form for pain that is related to inflammation (anything that feels worse in the morning and improves with movement). Keep this gel chilled in the fridge and apply it to the site of pain. The cold temperature will make the gel more eective by reducing any local swelling and heat.
Essential oils can also be added to carrier oils such as almond, jojoba or coconut oil. Frankincense can be used for any inflammation in the back due it its excellent anti-inflammatory properties, while peppermint can be used for its muscle-relaxant eects.