Low back pain affects 60 to 80% of people at some point in their life. That’s a lot. Back pain can come in the form of pain, swelling, inflammation, muscle dysfunction, discomfort, and lack of mobilization. Sometimes it takes sleeping in a highly specific position for pain levels to get to an almost tolerable level, while your daily activities of living (and your workouts especially) are drastically altered to accommodate the nagging pain that just doesn’t seem to go away.
Nowadays, it’s common to quickly turn to a magic pill like ibuprofen, also known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), just to get through the day. Although short-term use has a modest decrease in inflammatory symptoms, NSAIDs could be detrimental to the muscle’s regenerative process when taken consistently over time. There are also cardiovascular and gastrointestinal risks that can come with long term NSAIDs use.
Lucky for you–if you have back pain, that is–there are natural solutions to alleviate your back pain.
Natural Pain Relievers
Sure, your plug-in heat pack provides temporary relief, but there are other ways to use heat therapy for your back pain. Infrared saunas generate infrared rays to deeply penetrate the skin and stimulate whole body cellular detoxification. Steam rooms are enclosed spaces that are heated with steam, where temperatures can reach around 110 degrees. Not only can these methods aid in workout recovery by relieving delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), but they can also help loosen stiff joints, promote stress relief, and reduce muscle damage. If you are new to these methods, it’s important that you’re hydrated before starting a sauna or steam session and keep them short (20 minutes or less).
If you have listened to the Mindpump guys (and if you haven’t, get to it), you have probably heard them mention the amazing benefits of red light therapy. I’m here to say they have a good reason to do so! With the use of red and near-infrared wavelengths, you can enhance healing, recovery, and the regeneration process. There is a positive correlation between red light therapy and inflammation support, as this noninvasive tool has been clinically shown to reduce pain in joints, and even for (you guessed it), lower back pain. You can get your own red light therapy equipment in your own home; we recommend Joovv.
Also known as sensory deprivation tanks, float therapy allows you to float in an enclosed tank of shallow water filled with A LOT of Epsom salt, where you literally lay back, float, and let the salt water do the rest. The high-salt concentration lets you float effortlessly, and the magnesium sulfate from the salt acts as a muscle relaxer, and an anti-inflammatory and detoxification agent. Floating just once a week has been known to reduce back pain, while also improving sleep quality and reducing anxiety and depression.
Despite how uncomfortable this sounds, this mode of therapy has been catching my eye lately. Also known as cryotherapy, cold-water immersion therapy can leave drastic and immediate impacts on your health and pain management. The cold water causes blood vessels to restrict, therefore reducing blood flow, swelling and inflammation. Swimming in cool water is a great, low-impact exercise you can perform if you’re trying to reduce back pain. If that sounds a little intense at first, you can train your cold-tolerance by taking cold showers. Start by turning your water to a cold setting the last 30 seconds of your shower and progress from there.
We can’t finish off this list without mentioning the natural properties of hemp-derived CBD. Our friends at Ned have a full-spectrum hemp oil, which is rich in cannabinoids like CBD and CBN, that helps adults experience less stress. For some, stress can cause altered breathing patterns, which can lead to strain and tension in the mid-back. It’s crazy to think that psychological and emotional stress can cause physical stress in the form of back pain, but that added release of cortisol and adrenaline when we are stressed can involuntarily tighten our muscles. Fortunately, full-spectrum hemp oil has been shown to support emotional wellbeing, resulting in an improvement in your physical wellbeing as well.
Move & Stretch More
Depending on what is causing your back, NOT moving at all is probably making things worse. The back pain could be due to a weak core, or your hip flexors may be tight. Whatever it is, get to the root of the problem. Chronic back pain can cause psychological distress, physical impairment, and social limitations; while addressing the biomechanical risk factors that may be causing your back pain, there are plenty of natural modalities to ease some of the symptoms, so you can resume and maintain daily activities–workouts included, of course.