I feel like I’ve discovered the cure to low back pain. It’s only taken me 30 years to learn this, but really, I’ve got it figured out. It has been one year since I threw out my back just days before a marathon, which left me crawling around unable to stand up straight. Some of you may remember that incident, and what surprises me most is not that I was able to run the race (you can read about that story here), but that I have not had any low back pain since that time. This is the longest period of time I have ever gone without back pain.
When I was in high school, I use to get what I describe as “knots” in my back resulting in really bad back pain, and on & off since that time my back has gone “out” on me at least a couple of times a year. Many of you know that feeling, when you bend over and suddenly get that stabbing, shooting pain in your back, and down on your knees you go. Once I started getting chiropractic adjustments these episodes decreased in frequency & duration, yet they would still happen, even if just for 1-2 days. And no one wants to experience that. It is pretty miserable.
When people come into our office with that kind of back pain, I know what they are feeling. I’ve been there. I know what my x-rays look like (significantly decreased disc space at L5-S1). I’m pretty sure that that disc is or was herniated at some point, yet I’ve worked my way through it. Over the years, my episodes of low back pain went from many times a year, to monthly, to a few times a year. I know, go ahead and laugh, a chiropractor with low back pain. For some reason people think that’s funny (kind of like a dentist is never supposed to have cavities or root canals).
So what are the top secrets to manage low back pain and/or to make it go away? Well unfortunately it is not just one thing, but it is many things. These are the things that have really worked for me, so I suggest if you do all of these things then chances are really good that you won’t be experiencing much low back pain in the future:
Don’t carry extra weight around. 10 pounds overweight will increase your low back pain, and many people I know are 20-80+ pounds overweight. That will absolutely cause your pain and until that weight is gone, your back pain probably won’t go away completely. Yes there are thin people with low back pain, which is why you need to do these other steps listed.
Exercise. And I mean on a regular basis, good solid aerobic exercise to get your body moving and probably done at least 4-5x a week. Swim, run, elliptical, yoga, spin, zumba, whatever it is, just do it. The body is meant to move. Sometimes when my back goes out, I go for a super slow 1-2 mile run (even slightly bent over) to get the blood flowing. And then I do tip #3.
Stretch. Don’t exercise and then jump into your car or shower. Spend 5-10 minutes stretching after your workouts. If those muscles are tight, your low back will be sore. Years ago when I was having a month long extreme sciatica issue, a massage therapist showed me an amazing stretch that made a huge difference for me and got rid of the pain. Next time you are in the office, I’ll show you that stretch. It just can’t be explained in writing.
As mentioned above, get a massage. If those muscles are tight and can’t be stretched, then massage can help. I try to get massaged 1-2x a month.
Get chiropractic adjustments. Not just a couple of them, but regular adjustments. The frequency depends on your situation, but it’s not something that should be stopped. Yes, I mean get adjusted the rest of your life. I get adjusted anywhere from weekly to every other week. The nervous system must be working efficiently and the vertebrae must be moving. Chiropractic care will help.
Eat healthy and hydrate. Eat an anti-inflammatory diet and drink plenty of water. Do you want your muscles being like beef jerky (dehydrated) or filet mignon? Make sure you are drinking lots of water, and eating lots of healthy foods. A poor diet will increase low back pain.
And the last one….this ONE thing has resulted in me having NO episodes of low back pain during this past year. I hope I’m not jinxing myself by writing about this, but by making this one change and coming to this realization, I haven’t been bent over in pain in more than a year. Well, if you’ve read this far, then ask me about it the next time you are in the office and I’ll tell you and explain it to you. Sorry, it must be explained in person.
While these above things have made a huge difference in my life, they may not make a difference in someone else’s. Other things can help with low back pain, including acupuncture, stress reduction, buying a new bed, changing your job, not sitting all day, using essential oils, using homeopathics, etc. People respond to things differently, but I know that I am very happy that my back has been fine the past year. Yes it has taken 30 years to put all this together, and it works without drugs, without surgery. And that is my cure.