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  • Mitchell Rothbardt

Ouch! How to Deal With Back Pain.

Ouch! There goes that back again. Statistics show that about 80% of people will suffer some sort of back pain in their lives. Personally I think that number is actually much closer to 100% but stats are stats. I get it. Back pain is awful. Every time you move you feel like someone zapped you with 3000 volts. You can’t get comfortable. No good at all. There are some things you can do that may help, though.

Today I just want to give you a few things you can do to deal with any back pain you might have and a few ways to keep it to a minimum before it happens.

1. Ice. When you first hurt your back it’s very important to attack the injury with everything you have as soon as possible. The first step is ice. 20 minutes on, 20 minutes off as often as possible. People always have excuses for why they can’t do this. It’s inconvenient, it’s cold and uncomfortable, etc. It’s your back so do what you want, but you’ve got swelling and inflammation and if you want to get out of pain you need to reduce these things. Attacking back pain ASAP is the key to getting rid of it ASAP. Wait on it and it will linger much much longer.

2. Don’t stop!!!!! I’ve seen it many times. Someone’s back goes out and their immediate reaction is to stop doing anything. They sit down and just wait for it to go away. Sure, at the very beginning rest may be appropriate but that’s at the VERY BEGINNING. As soon as you can, it is crucially important to start moving even if all you can manage is a short walk. This is for a few reasons. First, sitting is just horrible for our back. I don’t have the space here to go into all the reasons why, but they are numerous. Second, moving around improves circulation and getting blood flow to injured areas is a very important part of recovery. As a quick example I had a client who injured her back in a fluky way just reaching for something at her house. She felt pretty bad, but she kept at it. She moved around, stretched and did what she could. A week later she hit a personal record on her squat, lifting 220 pounds. I’ve known other people who get a slight twinge and shut it down for weeks or longer and never really get any better. Get going. There is ALWAYS something you can do.

3. Stretch and move your hips and shoulders. Let’s take a quick anatomy lesson. Your low back is not supposed to move much. The main function of this area of your body is stability. The areas of your body that are supposed to move are your hips and shoulders. Due to the fact that most people sit all day, they have very tight hips and shoulders and the low back has to make up for that. This leads to pain, so mobilizing your hips and shoulders is an important step to relieve that tightness and a huge step in preventing back pain in the first place.

4. Deal with it. OK. This is where I have to keep it real just a little bit. Even though back pain can be extremely painful and debilitating, from an injury standpoint, many times it’s not that bad. What do I mean by that? Let me give you an example. When you stub your toe, how bad does it hurt? Quite a bit. Is it a very serious injury? Probably not. So to apply this to our back, because of all the anatomical processes that go on in our low back area, sometimes a minor injury can aggravate a whole host of nerves that can actually bring us a lot of pain. Also, the more we obsess on our pain the more stress we feel. The more stress we feel the more tense we get. The more tense we get, the tighter our back gets. Breathe deep and relax.

The key is to go on about our lives with a good attitude (isn’t that always the case) and do the things I mentioned to the best of your ability. Before you know it you’ll feel a whole lot better.

Mitch Rothbardt, CPT, PN Lean Eating Coach I Help People Discover Their Strength 510-754-7113

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