Monday, February 19, 2018

Five Surprising Ways to Relieve Lower Back Pain

Low back pain plagues much of the country, with nearly two-thirds of adults complaining of it at some point in their life.

If you’re not interested in taking traditional painkillers to relieve your lower back pain, you might want to consider trying one of these five surprising treatments instead.

1. Meditation

Regular meditation has been shown to reduce the severity of all types of chronic pain, including lower back pain. Experts believe that meditation can be beneficial because it helps practitioners direct their attention away from the pain and calm their minds.

Meditation also helps reduce muscle tension, decrease the heart rate, and slow respiration. All of these things can help naturally minimize pain as well. Meditation can be intimidating at first, which is why many people tend to shy away from it. If you’re interested in giving it a try, don’t make it more complicated than it needs to be.

Download a guided meditation app, or simply set a timer for one minute and spend that minute sitting quietly while focusing on your breath. That’s all there is to it! Over time, you’ll get more comfortable and be able to increase the duration of your meditation sessions.

2. Low-Impact Exercise

This may seem counterintuitive at first. After all, isn’t exercise going to make your pain worse?

Not necessarily.

Research shows that moderate exercise helps reduce low back pain. There are several reasons for this. First, regular exercise can help lower your body weight. This, in turn, decreases the amount of pressure being placed on your lower back.

Exercise can also help improve your strength and flexibility, so you’ll be better able to support yourself and avoid injuries during day-to-day tasks like cleaning the house or carrying groceries. Some good, low-impact forms of exercise to try include brisk walking, swimming, moderate resistance training, yoga, or tai chi.

3. Improving Your Office Ergonomics

Do you spend hours a day hunched over your computer? Practicing proper ergonomics at work will help you keep your shoulders, back, and neck healthy and mobile.

Start making efforts today to improve your office ergonomics. If you can, invest in a quality stability ball chair to help you improve your posture. Some other good changes include:

•    Keeping your computer monitor at eye level
•    Keeping your monitor at least 20 inches away from your face
•    Sitting with your head and neck in line with the torso while relaxing the shoulders
•    Keeping the elbows close to the body while you type, with the wrists and forearms parallel to the floor

4. Acupuncture

Acupuncture is an ancient form of medicine that involves inserting thin needs into pressure points throughout the body. By doing this, acupuncturists are able to remove energy blockages that may be causing pain.

One recent study found that of 20,000 chronic pain sufferers, those who received acupuncture saw a 50 percent reduction in their pain. To treat low back pain, an acupuncturist will insert needles directly into the lower back. They may also focus on these other pressure points:

•    Backs of the knees
•    Feet
•    Hands
•    Hips
•    Stomach

5. Cognitive Behavior Therapy

Like meditation, cognitive behavior therapy is another option for indirectly treating low back pain.

A one-year study found that patients who combined traditional treatment methods with three months of group cognitive behavior therapy saw twice as much relief in their chronic low back pain compared to those who only used traditional methods.

Researchers don’t believe that back pain is purely a psychological problem. However, they do believe that, by changing the way they view their pain, patients can do a better job of managing it.

During group cognitive behavior therapy, patients focused on identifying negative beliefs about themselves and their pain and changing those thoughts to reframe them in a more positive light. After the study, nearly 60 percent of participants said that they no longer had any low back pain, and 65 percent said that they were satisfied with their treatment and the reduction of their pain.

If you’re struggling with low back pain, consider one of these five unique treatment methods. Sometimes, you need to look beyond the physical problem in order to find the right solution.

This is a guest blog entry.

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