by Dr Julia Adams (Osteopath)
Chances are that you’ve felt lower back pain at some point – literally millions of people experience some form of this every year. It can be anything from a day or two of slight aching to chronic debilitating pain that compromises your ability to enjoy life. Thankfully there are some great ways to utilise your body’s incredible capacity for self healing to get you back to full health. Low back pain does not have to dictate how you live your life.
Regular, short bouts of gentle movement can be a really great way to relieve back pain. Rather than going for one 90-minute walk per day, you could try three 10-minute walks. You might be surprised by how much this helps.
Remember that movement does not have to be exercise. It might be something as simple as gardening, cooking, housework or even window shopping. Specific gentle forms of exercise and stretching such as spinal mobilisers like the cat/cow and thread the needle are another great way to help promote healthy movement for your spine.
Gently synchronise your movements between cat & cow with your breath.
For thread the needle, start on all fours then gently lift one arm up to the sky as you inhale. As you exhale bring the raised arm through the gap between your hands and knees to and rest on your shoulder.
Ideally, you should aim to keep your movement within pain free limits. If a particular movement, causes pain, try easing off the intensity or take a break from this activity for a short period. Hopefully you’ll be able to slowly increase the range of movement over time and then slowly begin to incorporate the movement into your daily life.
A minimum of eight hours of good quality sleep each night goes a long way toward helping your body heal efficiently. During sleep the body works hard to turn over new cells, calm inflammation and heal injured tissues. Setting up a good bedtime routine (eg. avoiding screen time before bed) and minimising caffeine throughout the day can make your sleep even more restful.
It might seem counterintuitive that what you eat can impact how much your back hurts. But food is the fuel that your body needs to power its tissue healing processes. Foods that are rich in antioxidants or healthy fats have some of the most powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Examples include oily fish like salmon or tuna, berries, kale, spinach, broccoli, nuts, seeds and olive oil.
Working with an Osteopath can make a big difference to how you manage your lower back pain. An Osteopath will work with you to identify the potential causes of your pain, as well as develop strategies to help eliminate it. A range of active and passive approaches may be used, including home exercises and other advice for giving your body the best chance to heal in the fastest way possible.
Not sure if Osteopathy can help? Reach out to one of our team and we will be more than happy to answer your questions.