There is a very good chance that at some point in your life, you've experienced back pain. It is the biggest cause of disability in the UK, with low back pain in particular making up 11% of UK disabilities. It's also a big reason behind work absenteeism, with 5.6 million work days lost each year due to back pain.
So, what’s the cause?
This is where you have to be a detective….
You have to do a bit of analysis to see if you can pinpoint a cause. Don’t worry if you can't, as we can help you with that!
There could be a number of reasons, some more obvious than others. A sedentary lifestyle is often seen as one of the main culprits. With a large percentage of jobs involving sitting behind a desk, it automatically means that a large chunk of our daily routines means being inactive, and with the rise of people spending their time relaxation time by staying at home and watching TV, it's very easy to spend a large part of your life not moving.
Other reasons to cause back pain may include being stressed. Prolonged muscle contraction, more commonly understood as muscle tension, is one of the most familiar symptoms of stress. The muscles contract due to the initiation of the fight or flight response during periods of stress or anxiety, but if stress or anxiety continues over a period of time the muscles continue in their contracted state. Not only does this cause the feeling of tension in our muscles which we identify as stress, but ongoing muscle contraction can lead to headaches, limited range of movement, difficulty concentrating, joint discomfort and chronic pain.
So the answer is how do you recognise that stress is your problem?
Firstly ask a friend, family member, or even a colleague to give you an honest opinion as to whether they think you are stressed. Secondly – how well does your body relax? Do you feel tension being held within your body? Common areas to hold tension are in the forehead and face, the back of the head and neck and across the shoulders.
You may find that you are unable to take deep breaths or your breathing is erratic and shallow. You may feel tension around your heart or in your diaphragm or you may have ‘butterfly’ sensations in the tummy – these are all indicators of stored tension in your body.
We would suggest you spend a few minutes shutting your eyes and scanning your body working through each area trying to relax the muscles and let the body melt into chair or mattress. It sounds obvious, but it’ll do you wonders.
The biggest tell-tale sign that someone is storing a lot of tension is when they cannot sit still and always have to be doing something. These people are often trying to avoid feeling what their body is expressing and usually these are signs of much deeper emotional traumas. If you see someone looking troubled, don’t be afraid to ask how they’re feeling.
The final way to prevent pain reoccurrence is to change your body shape.
More specifically, losing weight and increasing your strength within your muscles. Strength work is the most important exercise you can do – especially as you get older! By using weights, you not only get that all-important cardio workout, but also reduce the loss of muscle tone and stimulate bone density at the same time.
It's equally important to think about your diet.
Eating less inflammatory stimulating foods – i.e. reducing processed foods such as cake, processed meats and ready meals, but also foods like bread and pasta and instead increase your green leafy vegetables can make a huge difference.
Eat regular portions of oily fish like mackerel, salmon and sardines to improve your omega 6:3 ratio, while also cutting out vegetable oils – especially sunflower as this is very high in omega 6 and use olive oil, coconut oil or organic rapeseed.
Olive oil contains omega 9 which doesn’t interfere with are 6:3 balance. The problem with eating a highly processed western diet is that rather than the omega 6:3 ratio being 2:1 or 3:1, it can change to a staggering to 15:1 or 16:1. Omega 6 is broken down into molecules that stimulate inflammation within the body and can lead to chronic disease.
Take baby steps to change your lifestyle – remember, you cannot do everything at once. This takes work, effort, willpower and commitment, so be patient and you will reap the benefits. Give us a call on 01722 512 043 if you need advice on how to move forward.