2019 is upon us. And for many, this first month of the year is about new opportunities and potential for the year to come. Many of our new year’s resolutions revolve around our health and fitness, our relationships, and our careers. If you suffer from back pain and have some health goals in mind, you may want to consider the following resolutions for back pain. They can help reduce your back pain and improve your quality of life. Not a bad way to go through 2019!
Resolutions for Back Pain: Walk More
It’s easy to say you want to work out more in 2019. But more often than not, that can be a lofty and overwhelming goal. And for those that suffer from chronic pain, it can feel impossible. Which is why we suggest aiming to walk more this year. Walking has a number of positive benefits. And research has shown that regular low impact aerobic exercise can reduce inflammation, strengthen muscles, and provide healing.
Build a set time to walk 3-4 times a week. Physically schedule this time and put it into your planner or calendar. That way you can’t easily skip it and you’ll be kept more accountable. Build this habit into your life in a way that works for you. Instead of driving to the coffee shop a few blocks over, walk there. Or if it’s a surprisingly nice day, take a lap or two during your lunch hour.
If walking is difficult due to leg weakness or balance issues, try using a cane or trekking poles. And if walking outside is too jarring on your spine, consider using a treadmill. Treadmills are more padded and aren’t as jolting to the spine. And if a treadmill is still too harsh, consider walking in a warm pool. The water will support most of your body weight and keep that pressure off your spine!
We all know that smoking is bad for our lungs. But did you also know that smoking is just as bad for your back? Smokers are more likely to have back pain than does who don’t smoke. That is because nicotine restricts the flow of blood to the discs in your spine. As a result, the discs are more prone to ruptures and cracks. Smoking also reduces the oxygen levels in your blood. Oxygen is crucial to the healing process and helps keep your muscles and tendons in tip-top shape!
Quitting smoking is definitely challenging. But you can be successful if you use the right tools. Firstly, set a date and stick to it. Share that with your friends and family to help keep you accountable. Reach out when you need support – need a cigarette? Call a friend instead. Try a personal essential oil diffuser. And remember, you can always talk to your doctor about trying medication to help curve cravings.
Stop Sitting and Stand More
Ironically, health professionals have been saying that sitting is the “new smoking”. Sitting less and standing more is significant in improving back health. And although many of us have long commutes and desk jobs, that doesn’t mean we have to sit the entire day. If you’re able to, use a laptop stand or standing desk as opposed to a traditional desk. The discs of your lower spine are compressed up to three times as much while sitting. Any standing work you can do will help to relieve pressure on your spine.
Set a timer and get up every hour – even if it’s to pace for a few minutes or get a drink of water. This not only helps to break up the monotony of your day but will also keep blood flowing to the muscles in your back. If you take the T or bus to work, offer up your seat to someone else and stand on your commute. And remember our first resolution? Instead of hitting the recliner immediately after work, take 20-30 minutes to go on a walk. This can help you unwind from the work day, be more mindful, and help with your back pain!
Getting a good night’s rest is crucial to achieving optimal health. If you’re experiencing back pain, it could be a sign you aren’t getting proper sleep. First things first, take a look at your sleeping environment. How old is your mattress? And when was the last time you flipped it? Do you bring disruptive electronics into the bedroom? What is your nighttime routine? Do you need white noise to sleep or is silence all you need? What about room temperature and light sensitivity? These are all important factors in getting a good night’s sleep.
Here are some other ideas that can help you fall asleep and stay asleep:
- If you haven’t fallen asleep after 30 minutes, get out of bed and do something else. Waiting in bed to fall asleep may boost your stress levels, making achieving sleep even more difficult.
- Consider taking a natural, over-the-counter sleep aid, such as melatonin or valerian root.
- Try to get into the habit of destressing before bed with some light stretching or a guided sleep meditation. A more relaxed you will have an easier time falling and staying asleep. Remember the current stressors you have will still be around in the morning. Getting a good night’s sleep gives you the best chance to successfully deal with them in the morning.
Why suffer from back pain if you don’t have to? We know that dealing with chronic back pain can have a deep impact on your quality of life. And can keep you from doing all the things you love. So, start 2019 off on the right foot. Resolve to seek treatment for your pain when you need it. Remember, chiropractic care is a great addition to your wellness routine. Adjustments don’t just keep you healthy physically. Continual chiropractic care could also help you cope better with stress and strengthen your immune system! Contact us to schedule an introductory session and provide you with a happy and healthy 2019!