My Life Moves
For your back
Just like everyone else, Emile and I occasionally get back pain, especially during very busy periods of work when our backs get tired, and rather than more exercise, we actually need a rest.
It can also happen when we have been traveling away from home, sleeping in different beds, eating the wrong foods, or sitting around for too long…although admittedly, sitting down is not really our thing, and we tend to suffer more from over-doing.
Whenever either of us suffers from backache, we generally follow the same routine to help us recover and avoid more serious back problems. So here is our guide for the
9 best ways to recover from a tired back
First, make time to take a hot bath, or if you prefer, a hot shower. Tension tends to be one of the main causes of back pain, and the body finds it very hard to relax when cold, so to start with, warm it up. My personal favorite bath product is Stress Fix soaking salts from Aveda. Aveda products are free of nasty ingredients, they smell delicious and I often recommend them, but keep in mind, they are a bit pricey!
After the bath, apply a good sport massage cream in the affected area. There are many options on the market but we always use Physiorelax. Made with natural oils and free of parabens, it contains arnica and other natural ingredients, and isn’t tested on animals. It definitely works, as tested on ourselves and many of our clients. The only but is that it is a Spanish brand, so it is harder to get hold of, as they only do national deliveries through their website. You could always use this as an excuse to visit Spain! If you cannot get hold of Physiorelax, another easier to obtain cream that we like is Kneipp arnica joint and muscle intensive cream.
If your pain is very intense, a good Ibuprofen anti-inflammatory gel like Advil can help, but keep in mind its listed contraindications.
Unroll your yoga mat and begin to stretch gently. See our Yoga Therapy Set this month for a good SOS lower back pain sequence. Not only will you learn invaluable breathing techniques, but you will also relax, releasing those painfully tightened muscles in your back.
Most important of all is to breathe deeply in to the belly. Our friend, chiropractor guru Gitte Tonner insists on learning how to breathe properly to help prevent lower back pain. The simple movement of the breath in the belly assists the blood circulation in the area, and blood flow means healing.
If you don’t have access to a qualified and experienced shiatsu therapist, chiropractor or osteopath, then you will need some clever props to help you. For years we have used the ‘Trigger point massage balls” from Yoga Mad.
We also roll our backs on our foam roller, as you will see in our Yoga Therapy set for lower back pain. You have to be careful how you use these tools. As with the trigger point massage ball, we learned how best to use the foam roller from Judith Lasater at her experiential anatomy workshop in London, an invaluable experience for which we will always be thankful.
Stay hydrated and eat foods that support your joints. Read our Food Wisdom article to learn which foods can be beneficial for your back and the joints of your whole body–and which ones to avoid. Don’t underestimate the power of nutrition when it comes to joint pain. Can food affect your recovery from back ache? The answer is yes!
After a relaxing stretch set, keep your back warm for the rest of the day with a stick-on heat patch. We like Voltaren heatpatches, available in most pharmacies, but there are many other brands. Self-heated patches contain iron powder and activated charcoal, which produce heat in a natural way. They can be used even when pregnant but are not recommended for continuous and prolonged periods of time; just read the instructions and enjoy the soothing effect of a warm relaxed back for up to 8 hours.
Many clients who arrive with back pain experience relief in their symptoms by simple reassurance and giving themselves enough space to fully breathe and relax. At the time of this article’s publication, there is a serious study taking place that is trying to show the effects of relaxation apps with the management of low back pain. Keep calm and relaxed….Studies suggest that regular practice of meditation and relaxation techniques can increase pain tolerance, and mindfulness meditation has been used successfully in programs to reduce pain and improve mood in patients with pain from a variety of conditions, including low back pain. We think you will love the guided meditation in our Yoga Nidra section to help you stay calm and let go of those tight muscles that might be causing pain or discomfort in your back.
Be wise, and keep in mind the important warnings of a more serious problem that may need medical attention.
If in doubt do contact your doctor, but as long as you do not have any of the red flag symptoms, you can put your mind at ease that your back ache might just be due to stress and tiredness, in which case you can follow the tips above to make things better.