A lot of people get upset when they get back pain or any kind of chronic pain. They think it came out of nowhere and don’t get what caused it. Let me ask you this. How often do you spend or even THINK about steps to proactively prevent any type of pain to begin with?
We spend all day sitting, hunched over, stressed out, training with bad form, and a host of other reasons that could cause back pain. Just because you work out for one hour a day, doesn’t mean pain should never happen to you. There are still another 23 hours in a day and 6 days in the week. One hour a couple times a week doesn’t undo the rest of that time.
There are a couple natural, effective ways we can help alleviate this pain. I’ll start with the most obvious and go from there.
Improve Overall Mobility
Mobility is the ability to move through a range of motion with full control. Without this, you overcompensate by using muscles and areas of the body that aren’t meant to take on that extra load (i.e. when you lift something off the ground and tweak your lower back). It’s also a sign that your body is telling you something is not right.
Our body and muscles are meant to move in a certain fashion. When we lose connection to certain muscles, or groove improper movement patterns in the gym by accident, we can cause our body to adapt in negative ways.
It’s not just about stretching either. You need to lock the new movement patterns in. Flexibility is no good if the moment I add a load at the end range you still risk getting hurt. By incorporating mobility drills, we groove a new, and PROPER movement pattern, teaching the muscle to function the way it SHOULD be. Adding some light resistance will make sure it maintains that stability and control throughout the full range.
Example – Doing a hip flexor stretch will help loosen up your tight hip flexors, so that now you can do mobility and strength drills (hip bridges) to activate your glutes, and hamstrings so that your hip flexors aren’t over activating all the time which can cause low back pain. Working on this range daily will prevent you from falling back into the same issues in the future. Find the source of the problem, don’t just put a bandaid on it with stretching.
Mobility Exercises – Hip bridges, Bird dogs, 90/90 stretch, cat camel, palloff press
Diet & Inflammation
Foods can cause inflammation. Eating the wrong foods can make it harder for your back pain to recover because it isn’t receiving the proper nutrients. It can also cause leaky gut, bloating and indigestion making it harder for you to move overall. The simplest way is to eliminate any foods that you know cause issues. We’ve all had at least one or two foods that made us feel tired, bloated, or gassy afterwards. Start by just removing those then see how you feel when you replace it with whole foods. Focus on eating foods high in Omega 3’s (fish, olive oil, etc) to help bring the inflammation down.
People who are mildly sleep deprived have been shown to perceive more pain. Not only that, but their inflammatory markers go up with less sleep. Think of sleep as the rare time where your body gets an uninterrupted block to clean out and repair itself. It isn’t distracted by constant movement, or food intake, or other stressors constantly signaling it to do other things other than focus on repair. We also lose a lot of water and salt when we sleep. Make sure to drink a lot of water with electrolytes when you wake up, and you might find that works as good as a cup of coffee.