Apparently, 1 in 6 people has back pain in the UK. And, I’m one of them. Whilst I’m clearly not a medical professional, I have found some workarounds that ease the spasms, aches and cramps. Here are my tips for alleviating back pain.
Why do I have back pain?
All the way back in November 2015, I fell down the stairs. I was leaving for work, threw my bag over my shoulder and made my way down the stairs. I didn’t feel myself falling, so I didn’t reach out to stop myself. I landed very hard on a step. Winching but running late, I thought nothing of it and rushed off to work.
A few days later, I was still in some pain but just assumed it was badly bruised. I was getting ready for a friend’s wedding in Scotland. Whilst having a spray tan, when I turned around, I heard a gasp. Somehow, I had missed the giant bruise that was from my knees to my bra strap. The short plane journey was unbearable. I hadn’t realised that I had been adjusting the way I sit to be comfortable.
The small seat and limited movement meant I was sitting directly on my coccyx.
When back at home, I did get it looked at. That’s right, knickers down and bent over for the doctor to probe. The diagnosis, a broken coccyx. It can take weeks or months to heal. There was some discomfort when walking around, but mostly when sitting and exercise was out of the question. Here we are, nearly six years later, and I still have back pain. Why? A minuscule piece of bone chipped off and jiggles around, knocking nerve endings. Ouch! Plus, I didn’t manage it well to begin with.
How to manage back pain
I wish I hadn’t stopped exercising. The pain initially was off-putting. I was told that I couldn’t do any further damage, but to avoid over pushing myself. By putting off exercise – for years – I made a rod for my own back. Starting back was difficult. My body would ache from head to toe, as the muscles hadn’t been used for such a long time and needed to strengthen. You don’t need to be in the gym lifting heavy weights to exercise. It comes in many forms. Get out on your bike, go hiking, dance, swim or do some stretches. People who remain active are likely to recover quicker.
Sleeping can be challenging if you have back pain. Look at your sleep position, pillow placement, mattress and even your duvet and bedsheets. Do you need to place a pillow between your knees? Try not to use your phone or wear blue light glasses for at least 30 minutes before going to bed. I also love using a lavender pillow spray. These are designed to help you relax and fall into a deep sleep.
Is there anything better than a soak in the bath? I get Netflix on the iPad, a glass of wine, maybe light a candle and sink into the hot water. I love filling it with oils to soften up my skin and smell delicious. The warm water will loosen up any tight muscles and joints, and it also promotes tissue healing.
Whether it’s just a back, neck and shoulders or a full body, a massage can help you mentally as well as physically. As well as the coccyx, I have big boobs. Wearing a bra all day and often carrying a heavy bag around, I get back pain from that too. A good massage therapist will feel
where there is tension in your back and work on getting those knots out.
- Lose weight
This only applies if you are overweight. Medically, I’m still classed as obese, so I have some way to go before taking this one off the list. By losing weight, you will be taking pressure off your vital organs, joints and your mobility will improve.
- Ditch the high heels
Again, not one I followed initially. I have to be formal for work, and high heels are part of the look. During lockdown, all I have worn are slippers, trainers and flip flops, and I have had less back pain. When wearing heels, the body will compensate for the unbalance and causes flexing in your spine. Your calves and hip muscles may also become tense.
- Avoid sitting
Ok, I’m not saying you should stay on your feet all day. Sitting for long periods puts pressure on your back. Getting up and walking around or stretching regularly can help alleviate back pain. If you do have to sit for long periods of time, use a stool or a footrest to bring your knees above your hips.
How do you manage your back pain?
Along with all of the tips above, I do also self-medicate. I always have a stockpile of Paracetamol and Ibuprofen in the medicine cabinet when I need to “take the edge off”. But I don’t want to do this every day and long term. I’d love to know how you manage your back pain? Please let me know your tips?