So you feel like you have tried everything: Ice, heat, epsom salt baths, muscle relaxants, physio, acupuncture, IMS, massage, but nothing seems to work. Your chronic back pain keeps coming back and knocking you down and for a day, a week, or even a month at a time?
Many times people with chronic back pain never discover and solve the source of the problem, so their undisclosed injury never really gets better. People walk into CrossFit Crescent and say, “The doctor told me I have a disc.” But they don’t know exactly what’s the issue with the “disc.” Granted medical professionals often use terms and we don’t understand the difference between those terms.
Here are some suggestions that might help you deal with that nagging back pain once and for all:
7. SEEK A TRUE DIAGNOSIS
If you’re in the group who has had back issues on and off for years, it might be worth getting an MRI to see if there’s something going on in there that you don’t know about. Maybe you have a bulging or slipped disc you need to deal with. If It’s not going away, consider an MRI. If you are feeling pretty severe pain that’s shooting out into your outer limbs, you should go get an MRI also. However, here in Jordan there are basically three solutions they give you- surgery, see a physical therapist, or go swimming. Rarely have we seen any of these solutions alone provide a long term solution to the root problem. Keep reading.
6. CHECK YOUR SLEEP
Sleeping injuries are no joke. Sleeping in bad positions, or with bad pillows, can cause legitimate injuries.
As for positions, it’s pretty well-known that sleeping on your stomach can cause neck pain. Others have back issues when they sleep on their backs unless they put a pillow under their knees. Everyone is different, so no one size fits all, but it’s worth experimenting with sleep positions.
As for pillows, selecting the appropriate style might also have something to do with whether you’re a stomach, back or side sleeper. Expert consensus is that back sleepers should sleep with thinner pillows, so their head doesn’t get thrown too far forward, while side sleepers are better off with larger, firmer pillows to fill in the distance between the ear and outside shoulder. And if you’re a stomach sleeper, a thin, almost flat pillow is probably best. Some recommend no pillow for stomach sleepers.
5. GET UP FROM YOUR DESK
Often times back pain simply stems from—or at least is massively aggravated—by sitting too long. Set a timer to remind yourself to get up once an hour. If you’re someone who sits all day at work, it’s important to stand up and move around. Spending five minutes foam rolling and stretching multiple times a day also helps. Purchase a simple foam roller and keep it at work or home and when you need a break, instead of grabbing a smoke, grab your roller!
Another option our clients have had success with: A standing desk. It’s not for everyone, but it is an option. You can find these in Amman nowadays and won’t look like a crazy person if you have one in your office or home.
4. FIX YOUR POSTURE
Many times, undisclosed back pain comes from poor posture. We’re not just talking about slouching or rounded shoulders. But when you are sitting and pecking away at that end of the quarter report for 12 hours straight, posture matters. Sit up with your chest, shoulders back, make sure your elbows are properly supported for your computer.
The problem might even start at your feet. Being pidgeon-toed or having tight ankles, for example, can lead to less than ideal posture, and ultimately hip or back pain. If you carry a wallet on you, don’t leave it in your back pocket. The wallet creates an imbalance when you sit. Switch over to a front pocket wallet- you’ll thank me soon enough.
Along the same lines, here are some things you can try doing at home if you think your weak glutes or weak abs, tight hamstrings or hips are leading to your back pain.
Weak Glutes:Do 50-100 glute bridges, 50-100 clamshells on each leg and 50-100 bird dogs every morning when you wake up.
Weak Abs: Spend 5 minutes in a deadbug, bent hollow or hollow hold position every morning. Focus on building as much tension in your body as you can as you hold the position.
Tight glutes/hamstrings/hips: There are tons of great stretches out there. Kelly Starrett is one health professional who does a great job breaking down the importance of stretching, flexibility and mobility. His videos are easy to find, but here are three good ones that address these areas of the body:
3. WEAR THE RIGHT SHOES
Although those stilettos are sexy, they might be causing your back pain. The same is true of flip flops and sandals. If you’re in pain and wear dumb shoes, it might be worth considering prioritizing health and pain-free living over fashion or comfort. Make sure your shoes have a proper arch and proper sole width. This is especially important for those of you who have to stand for long hours each day- doctors and construction workers alike.
2. LOSE WEIGHT
Is the pressure you’re putting on your back from being overweight the main source of the problem? It could very well be. Many of our clients before starting with us, had experienced success with losing large amounts of weight in a period of months. They simply focused on a carbohydrate free diet like Paleo –and the weight just shed off their body. However, without proper exercise and a food plan in place for each week, the results will be a yo-yo of weight.
Contact us and we’ll help you with your nutrition—we’ll get you food prepping and fueling your body with the right foods for you—to help you improve your body composition so that your body starts functioning more optimally, and with less pain. Specifically you’ll want to avoid the five types of nutrition mistakes that could be affecting you.
1. HIRE A COACH
This is where we come in. Our coaches can help you figure out if there are any muscle imbalances, or muscle tightness, that’s contributing to your pain. Are your glutes or abdominals just really weak, or your hip flexors or hamstrings really tight? Sometimes back pain stems from somewhere else in your body that needs work. We’ll provide you a plan to fix your imbalances and weaknesses that might be contributing to your undiagnosed pain. Many times, your back pain is being caused by several factors that need to be addressed at the same time. We estimate 30% of our new members at CrossFit Crescent start with some kind of back pain. Usually within 1-3 months the root problems have been fixed and their backs are stronger than ever! Set up a consultation with us so we can talk about your fitness background, back issues, and help you develop a plan for total health and fitness!