You don’t have to be a grandma or a grandpa to suffer from back pain. In fact, the National Institutes of Health estimates that more than 80% of Americans will suffer from a back injury during their lifetimes. Since the human spine is made up of a complicated array of vertebrae, discs, joints, and muscles, there is plenty of room for something to go wrong. Back pain can result from lots of different conditions including osteoarthritis, pinched nerves, bulging discs, strained muscles, misalignment, and pregnancy. When back pain strikes, many people instinctively reach for the bottle of pain killers. While these can provide temporary relief, they can also lead to a whole new set of problem like tolerance, dependence, and stomach ulcers.
A couple of the easiest ways to reduce your risk for prolonged back pain is to simply improve your diet and stay hydrated. Although these may sound unrelated, fruits, vegetables, and omega 3 rich foods can actually help your body repair itself. Similarly, drinking a lot of water can help prevent the back’s spongy disks from shrinking with old age and causing pain. Vitamin supplements containing glucosamine, chondroitin, and methylsulfonylmethane are associated with connective tissue repair and often recommended by naturopathic experts. Vitamins B1, B2, B6, and B12 are also often recommended to relieve pain and help muscles relax.
As an alternative to harsh painkillers that take their toll on the stomach, you can try natural painkillers that don’t pose the risk of long-term side effects. Tumeric is known for its anti-inflammatory benefits, willow bark is known for its pain relief, and pineapple-derived bromelain is known for both. Ginger is a very promising natural anti-inflammatory, which can be brewed into hot tea after strenuous activities. Since omega-3 fatty acids also help reduce inflammation, back pain sufferers can incorporate more cold-water fish into their diets or begin a fish or flaxseed oil supplement regimen.
Many people suffer from back pain because their bodies are simply carrying too much weight. Aside from diet, low-impact exercise is incredibly important for back pain sufferers. Swimming and yoga are just a couple great options to try in moderation. Exercises that use foam rollers can be especially helpful in relieving muscle and tendon strains, and there are specific stretches that are recommended for people with back pain.
To prevent back pain from starting or getting worse, try to maintain proper posture all day, every day. Exercise to strengthen your core abdominal muscles to reduce unexpected strain on your lower back. Always sleep on a supportive mattress and experiment with placing a pillow between or under your knees to maintain a neutral spine position. And finally, since back pain often results or worsens with stress, practice regular meditation and deep breathing to allow the flow of oxygen to reach your back muscles and help you relax.