Top 3 Strategies to Eliminate Back PainTop 3 Strategies to Eliminate Back Pain

By Albert Vaca, L.Ac.

Back pain can seriously impact your quality of life and limit your activities of daily living. Just the simple act of getting out of bed can cause pain and discomfort that takes not only a physical toll, but an emotional one as well. The American College of Physicians recommends that physicians and patients treat acute or subacute low back pain with non-drug therapies such as massage, heat and acupuncture. Chronic pain can be treated similarly along with the addition of exercise, meditation and Tai Chi.

Too many people are being prescribed opioid drugs for their pain, which can easily lead to dependence and addiction. Recent studies on the effectiveness of these drugs have shown little relief with long-term use and even increased pain after a 12-month period.

Here are my top three strategies to eliminate back pain naturally and keep it from coming back.

Feed your aching muscles

When a back injury occurs, blood vessels may be damaged along with muscles, tendons and ligaments. The result is inflammation that can stimulate nerves and cause stagnant blood and body fluid.

I suggest that you fill yourself up with foods that are known to fight inflammation. Papaya and pineapple are among the best fruits you can eat because their enzymes can help reduce pain and inflammation. Turmeric, ginger, red and blue berries, high-quality fish and lots of delicious vegetables are all known to help reduce inflammation. Minimizing, or better yet, excluding altogether, coffee, dairy foods, alcohol and sugar is especially beneficial.

Stretch to find your flow

I find it very common that patients with sedentary lifestyles—people who sit too long and don’t move enough—have tight hip flexors and weak glute muscles. This creates a perfect storm of muscle imbalance that fortunately can be helped with some simple stretches. Targeted stretches for these muscles, such as lunges, pigeon, cat/cow, McKenzie exercises and light twists can be beneficial. Don’t forget to incorporate breathwork into your stretches! Discuss with your practitioner which movements may be the best for you. The point is to get up, move and give your body the attention it deserves.

"Where there is flow, there is no pain. Where there is no flow, there is pain."

This statement from Chinese medicine is useful to consider in deciding if you need to apply ice or heat to an affected area. Use a heating pad to increase circulation in painful areas, especially where achy, stiff muscles and joints are involved.

There has been some debate about this, but here’s a simple explanation. Use ice during the first 24 to 48 hours after an injury or if there is prolonged swelling with redness. Heat increases blood flow and helps to soften muscles, whereas ice packs slow down circulation.



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