By Dr. Andrew Hall
Here at WellSpine KC, in Overland Park, KS, we see ALOT of low back cases. Of course, we do, we are chiropractors. But we want people to know that there are some simple, effective and inexpensive ways to decrease pain when you are at home. We teach these every day in our practice, so we are bringing them to you.
# 1 Drink More Water
I know this seems pretty simple. Most people ask, ‘How can drinking water help alleviate this dull, constant ache in my back?’
Here’s the deal: water comprises the majority of our brain, joints, organs and muscles. When the muscles tighten up in the low back they are trying to protect the spine, discs and nerves from further injury. But the longer the muscles are tight, the more dehydrated they become.
Imagine a rope soaked in water then tightening the rope. All the water will drain from the rope. Same with our muscles. The less water in our muscles, the more prone to spasms, chronic tightness and pain.
The fact is, most Americans are chronically dehydrated. This also affects joint pain, brain function and digestion.
We recommend you consume half your body weight in ounces of water per day. It breaks down like this: if you weigh 200lbs, you need to drink 100oz of water, per day. If you work out that day it needs to be more. If this sounds like a lot of water to you, give it a try first and see what happens. Most people report better energy, less pain, easier weight-loss, and less cravings for sugary foods.
# 2 Go for a Walk
Movement helps our bodies heal! I know it may sound counter-intuitive, but if you feel your back tightening up or that chronic pain seems worse today than usual, you need to move more.
(More about that on #4)
The reason most people are dealing with low back pain is that they sit too much. They sit for work, in the car, and at home watching TV.
When it comes to sitting, it can be just as destructive to our health as smoking cigarettes. Movement is good for you and your body needs it to heal properly! It doesn’t have to be a hard workout or a long run. Go for an easy walk for 10 minutes and see how you feel. I bet you will want to go for another 10 minutes.
Go for a bike ride, do an easy swim, do some light stretching in a beginner yoga class, just move a little more! The time you invest here will pay off, big time.
# 3 Ice & Heat
Icing and heat will help reduce inflammation, quicken the healing process, and alleviate pain. But most people aren’t applying these principles correctly. Here is what I recommend:
o For Acute Injuries wait 3 days, then follow the instructions below. Natural Swelling helps the body heal initially.
o For Chronic Inflammation or Acute Injuries after 3 days: 10 minutes of ice, 5 minutes of heat.
o 10 min. of Ice gets rid of bad inflammation, 5 min of Heat brings in red blood cells to continue healing.
o Answer these questions: Has the swelling gone down? Is it moving better?
o You can decide whether or not to repeat steps 1-3.
# 4 Stand Up!
You are sitting too much. I mean that. In Western Society we are chronically inactive; we sit for work, for leisure, for school, and for long commutes.
Our bodies are not meant to sit as much as we do and this causes many health issues, including low back pain and sciatica.
Not only does sitting put too much stress and tension on your low back, it also increases the amount of forward head posture. Forward Head Posture (FHP) is the most common abnormal posture that we see and it is also the most dangerous because of the damage it causes to the delicate structures in the neck.
In fact, 80% of the low back cases that come into our office actually start in the neck. Whatever your neck is doing, the rest of your body is going to follow.
Therefore, you need to stand up more! Sit/Stand desks are a great solution for work, going for walks (see #2), getting into a healthy exercise routine, and doing some easy yoga stretches are great ways to help undo some of the negative effects of sitting too much.
8665 W 96th St. Suite #203, Overland Park, KS 66212 | 913-624-3888 | wellspinekc.com