Lower back pain can come from all sorts of sources, and there’s no one universal cure. Many people go through a process of trial and error when it comes to finding relief for their lower back pain, and medical approaches can be frustrating, focusing on addressing anatomical issues when there may be more at play.
A well-rounded, holistic approach is best when dealing with any kind of unexplained pain, especially lower back pain. Here are some lesser-known methods for dealing with this aggravation:
1. Release Endorphins
Endorphins are “feel-good” hormones produced naturally by your body, and their effect can be just as strong as that of any prescription pain medication(1). Endorphins help block pain signals and alleviate stress, anxiety and depression – all of which are associated with chronic back pain.
To release these feel-good messengers, try these time-tested methods:
- Aerobic exercise
- Massage therapy
- Deep breathing
- Laughing and smiling
- Eating dark chocolate
- Listening to music you love
- Being social
2. Make Sure You Get Enough Sleep
Pain is the number one cause of insomnia when it comes to medical conditions – many patients with lower back pain also suffer from sleep disorders. But not getting enough sleep can aggravate back pain, creating a vicious cycle which makes treatment less effective and pain worse(2). When treating your chronic back pain, it’s important to get enough rest.
Cutting back on caffeine can help you get a good night’s sleep, but it’s also important to practice good “sleep hygiene” – keeping a regular sleep schedule, not taking electronics like your laptop or phone to bed with you, and not eating immediately before bed. You can also try drinking tart cherry juice.
3. Build Your Muscles
The muscles in your back and abs have an important role to play in supporting your spine. If these muscles don’t get a regular workout, you’re at risk for developing back pain(3). Make sure you work out the muscles in your back and abs regularly.
4. Hamstring Stretches
This one is easy – gentle hamstring stretches are one of the simplest things you can do to help with lower back pain. Tight hamstrings can place stress on your lower back, placing you at risk for lower back pain(4). To avoid this, you should perform gentle hamstring stretches at least twice a day.
5. Keep Your Brain Active
Many pain specialists feel that pain is more complex than we may realize. Our brain’s activity can play a major role in how we interpret and process pain signals, as well as how we perceive our pain.
The good news is that mindfulness exercises have been shown to help significantly with pain management(5), indicating that there are things we can do to help our brain process pain better. Developing these skills can go a long way towards helping to manage chronic back pain.
Keeping A Balance
Chronic pain can wreak havoc on your daily life, so it’s important to maintain a healthy balance between work, rest and play even when you’re experiencing pain.
Maintaining relationships with people, staying active, and staying engaged with your life is crucial for living well with a chronic pain condition.
It is possible to live well with chronic back pain – many people manage this every day – but it takes commitment and effort. With these techniques, you can be on your way to a life less affected by regular pain.