- Jean Jordan
3 Easy Ways For Relieving Back Pain
Updated: Jan 17
Do we ask too much of our backs, ignoring them until they put out a call for help by sending a pain signal? Or are we allowing them to ‘cry wolf’ too often and accepting that back injuries may be worse than they are?
This article will give you some options to understand and support your back to be able to reduce aches and pains.
Our backs are designed with curves, a collection of blocks piled on top of each other joined together by a flexible and pliable filling. These blocks of vertebrae are stacked on top of one another with discs in between and our backs are designed to be flexible.
We are especially good at bending forward, again due to the design of our vertebrae but not so flexible when we lean backwards, the amount of movement is much more limited.
Relieve Stress And Strain On Your Back
Sometimes these curves in our back can be put under stress causing aches and pains. Back pain in general tends to be the pain that really worries us, but in reality as Peter O'Sullivan says, "our back muscles are some of the strongest muscles in our body".
Perhaps, sometimes we forget how resilient these muscles can be. Because, if you think for a moment these muscles have to be pretty amenable to give-and-take and have regular conversations with our vertebrae to keep us moving and doing all the many different daily twists and turns without a thought.
One time I listened to a presentation by Peter O'Sullivan in which he made an interesting comment that stuck with me.
If we get a headache, an unexpected headache:
o we think perhaps we're tired,
o perhaps a bit stressed or one of the first things we may think of we’re dehydrated.
Therefore, we don't worry too much.
o We think we'll be fine after a good night’s sleep.
o The pain will be gone tomorrow.
But With Back Pain We Get Worried That It's Serious!
There are a large number of people who go to the doctor with back pain, many of which would clear up in a week or two, if not perhaps a few days. It's just that we worry something is wrong. Worry makes the pain seem worse and the fear of injury constantly plays on our mind.
Relax & Relieve Your Aching Back
The aim of this article is to show you ways to relax and relieve the sensations in your back, be it an ache or feeling painful. Perhaps when you come home from work, or you've had a busy day when you stop, then suddenly notice your back. You need a simple way to reduce any aches that you can feel.
The most important thing I ask you to do is "noticing", that means to be aware of how your body feels.
o What does your body feel like when you use some of the activities I'm describing here?
o Does your body feel able to relax?
So later in the evening you can go out with friends and family without a thought about your back.
Now returning to those curves, the natural curvature of our back.
First Activity- Lying Flat, a Pillow under your Tummy.
One issue that clients bring to my clinic, is best illustrated by these two photographs
The women on the massage table has a painful back. You can see there is stress in the centre of her back. This can be no problem for most people, but for others it can cause continual pain, particularly when she is tired at the end of the day. Stress and pain can exacerbate each other - stress seems to increase your pain, which then stresses you even more, so increasing your pain.
Went I placed a pillow under her, she noticed her back relax.
Noticing is important as it took several attempts for her to get the position of the pillow to provide the best benefit and maximum relief.
The plan was then to find even five minutes to lie in this position as she felt the tension release in her back muscles.
Perhaps a bit of 'me time', maybe relaxing music and some clients have said they often have company from their dog or cat who seems to think it great fun.
Second Activity- Back Support When Sitting In A Chair
After many years of sitting talking with clients in my clinic discussing their chronic pain, obviously I would be observing their posture. One of my aims as a clinician is to build rapport and enable each client to feel safe, heard and to relax.
My clients sit in a normal chair - somewhat like a dinning chair with support for one's back. One particular day it seemed the lady sitting opposite me didn't look at all comfortable, she had her toes only touching the floor.
I grabbed a couple of yoga blocks, put them under her feet. There was an immediate change in her posture. She could sit back in the chair, as opposed to sitting on the front, her back was well supported by the back of the chair. This was also accompanied by a broad smile, and a statement of being comfortable sitting in a chair for the first time ever.
As in the example of the pillow above, you may need to find the comfortable height of the blocks for you. When you feel the base of your back automatically be against the chair and no longer need an effort to sit in the chair - sitting should be easy and not need conscious thought.
Here is a photo of Charlie demonstrating how there is an improvement in posture if feet are supported. I found this very effective in clinic with clients whose legs are shorter than most of chairs are designed for. When I notice their posture I take a couple of yoga blocks and put them under their feet - "aaaahhh, that feels good" is usually their response.
As both short and tall people are aware the majority of the furniture is designed for the 'average' person somewhere in the middle, consequently sometimes the furniture itself is a challenge to backs if you are in that range of being outside the 'average' height.
Third Activity - Lazy Eights - To Exercise Flexible Thoracic Spine
There is an area of our thoracic spine that can hold a lot of tension, at the same time movement is restricted by the necessary protection provided by the shoulder blades. This part of our spine is very flexible, but also difficult to exercise and engage the surrounding muscles to release tightness and tension.
Below we have several videos showing how we have taken and extended a normal stretch that some of you may be familiar, to be a more active, continuous movement. Great exercise for your back muscles, though do it with noticing and slowly to begin.
This first video demonstrates how to do a stretch movement that some of you may have seen before than adds an extra movement that crosses your midline.
Instructions, maybe try in front of a mirror:
stand in front of mirror where you can see the top half of your body, ensure you have comfortable clothes that allow free movement.
Watch the video all the way through, until you are familiar with the movements.
Do an arm stretch of each arm - ensure shoulders are relaxed.
Only move as much as you feel comfortable - it should be a gentle stretch.
Next reach hands out in front and grasp them together.
Imagine you are holding a pencil in your hands and are drawing a large horizontal infinity sign. (bit like a sideways figure 8).
Noticing, as you do this there is movement between your shoulder blades.
Only do a couple of infinity signs as you may need to encourage your back muscles to gently release.
This activity is a combination of yoga and Educational Kinesiology to release and exercise muscles that are supported and protected by your shoulder blades as the thoracic spine is very flexible, supported by a collection of muscles that include the lattisimus dorsi and trapezius muscles.
In this video you can see how the 'stirring' activity moves the muscles of the back in this person doing the demonstration.
This final video shows how the 'stirring' using the arms can by moved higher or lower so will impact on a different level of the spine.
If you have someone that can put their hand on your back they will be able to feel the movement in the muscles in your back. In fact when I work with clients in my clinic we first start with me doing this activity while they put their hand on my back to feel the muscles move.
This article gives three different self help options that may make your back feel more comfortable, in fact give it a bit of attention, using noticing to evaluate which if any of the above options are going to be useful for you. They are designed to help support the natural curve of your back.
Perhaps you would like to discuss persistent ongoing pain with me online here is the link to my six-week pain journey.
In keeping with my holistic philosophy this article discusses and illustrates self-help techniques. I am not talking about any specific diagnosis, as Natural Pain Solutions does not diagnose any pain issues. Any persistent or acute back should always be checked out with your doctor to rule out serious issues.
This article is the personal opinion of the author, Jean Jordan who is a natural therapist who works online with people who have chronic pain and related stress and anxiety.
Learn more about Jean and discover her philosophy and holistic approach.
Peter O'Sullivan - Talk more positively about your back