Sometimes it can be hard to believe that our spines aren’t engaged in some harmful conspiracy against us. So many people suffer from some degree of back pain, after all! And the people who have even the slightest bit of discomfort in their back find it extremely difficult to find any relief or comfort.
Part of that might be because it’s incredibly difficult to find a comfortable position when you’re acutely aware of your spine. (Seriously, think about it. How comfortable do you feel right this minute, now that you’re aware of your spine and how you’re sitting?)
If you often suffer from back pain, you should give this a read.
Why Is My Back Hurting So Much?
Perhaps you already know the answer to this question. Maybe you have a condition that physician has actually checked out and identified to you. Maybe you think it’s hereditary and that is’ as simple an explanation as that. After all, your parents often complain about having sore backs.
A lot of people out there assume that their back pain is unavoidable. The “hereditary” thing is something I’ve heard a lot of times. Basically, people tend not to think too much about their back pain. Aside from when they’re thinking directly about the pain they’re experiencing as they experience it, of course! But people don’t really think too deeply about the cause of their back pains. A lot of people may chalk it up to specific experiences in the past. Perhaps they lifted something really heavy once in the past, experienced back pain, and have blamed it all on that ever since.
The most likely causes, however, are probably things that you are doing every day. You’ve probably already heard somewhere that the way you’re sitting can have a lot to do with it. This leads people to try to find new ways of sitting. This usually means that they attempt to sit up incredibly straight, with the whole of their back against their chair. They find that this is uncomfortable. So they give up, assuming that they are simply doomed to back pain because of their comfort preferences.
This all stems from a misconception about what it is about sitting that causes back pain. Sure, the whole thing will be made worse if you’re hunched over towards your computer screen. There are definitely certain postures that will cause back pain quicker than others. But this is the key fact that you need to consider. Any sitting position, held long enough, will begin to put stress on your back structure. So, basically, the fact that you’re sitting down for hours on end is usually what’s causing the problem. It’s less to do with the specific posture in which you sit!
The Problem with Sitting
Sometimes, it doesn’t seem that your body was even made to sit down. Sure, your legs will get tired if you’re standing up all the time. But the above facts just makes it sound like your back will punish you for not standing up all the time! Of course, never sitting down is going to hand negative effects on your back, too. So how exactly do you win?
Well, remember that I said that the problem isn’t with sitting in itself. It’s that so many of us end up sitting down for several hours without moving. More and more people are living what we call sedentary lifestyles, mostly thanks to modern professions. Office workers are largely expected to sit at a desk in front of a computer for around eight hours a day. Sure, there are breaks. But from my experience with offices, a lot of office workers simply keep sitting while they’re on their break.
While long amounts of sitting time are inevitably going to cause back problems, we also need to consider the nature of most seats. The fact is that the vast majority of seats we use, in the office or at home, don’t adapt to us. Our backs are forced to adapt to however the seat is made. Even a great sofa usually doesn’t fix this problem. No matter the comfort levels, or ‘softness’, they are made to be pretty rigid. The reality is that very few of them actually offer your spine any support.
This, oddly enough, is why a lot of people choose to sit on bean bags instead of traditional furniture. That might seem a little ridiculous to you. But the fact is that bean bags aren’t simply furniture alternatives for kids. A lot of modern offices, like those of Facebook and Google, have bean bags everywhere that employees use when they’re on their laptops. It’s not just because they want their company to “look cool”. It’s because bean bags conform easily to the shape of your spine. Whatever seating position you find most comfortable? A bean bag will accommodate it. So it’s definitely worth looking into. You can get more specific product info from Comfy Sacks.
The Importance of Exercise
Getting up every hour or so and making sure you have a good move around (and a stretch!) is important. The reason that’s probably most obvious to you now, of course, is that it gives your body a respite from all that sitting. But if you’re someone who has chronic back pain that doesn’t seem to let up, getting a bit of exercise might seem like a bad idea. Maybe even a dangerous idea. But exercise is an extremely important part of pain relief in this area.
You experience more pain when you’re still. It’s why you’re way more acutely aware of your back pain when you’re sitting down, or lying in your bed. What’s happening is this. Because your back is particularly still during these times, your body doesn’t send any extra blood flowing to that area. And that biological activity helps with pain relief in a big way.
Making sure you get out and go for a brisk walk for at least half an hour a day will do wonders for your back. (And, you know, your overall health!) But there are loads of other exercises that specifically aid with back pain.
But Wait – I heard stress and anxiety cause back pain?
There’s a lot of mixed information about the effects of emotions on your body. More specifically, it’s difficult to tell if bad moods actually directly result in physical pain. We know that good moods can help with pain relief. After all, a very good mood helps with the release of endorphins, which helps you shut out pain. But does it work the other way round?
There are studies which show that those with fairly severe depression can have such emotions manifest as physical pain. These areas can include the back. But it’s difficult to say with certainty that any chemical releases associated with depression trigger acute pain in any area.
That being said, there is certainly a connection between anxiety and stress and back pain. But the nature of this connection is often confused. Basically, back pain and mental anxieties feed off of each other. Stress, anxiety, and depression make it more likely for someone to remain in one place for long periods of time. This makes it more likely that they’ll suffer from back problems. Those back problems will then make stress and anxiety worse. But stress and anxiety then heighten your body’s response to pain, so you end up feeling your back problems more acutely!
It’s a vicious circle indeed. However, it will help highlight the need to get more exercise and take further steps to reduce stress. Exercise in itself is great stress relief. But there are several others things you can consider.
The “Alternative” Methods
If you’ve had back pain bothering you for a long time, I would recommend going to a doctor. It’s not completely certain that they’ll be able to tell you anything I haven’t said already. After all, most back pains do seem to be caused by these sorts of lifestyles and habits. In fact, an acknowledgement of this is why so many don’t go to their doctor about it. But the fact is that no-one can say for certain exactly what it is that’s causing your discomfort. Not without a professional check-up – which, of course, is what your doctor can give you!
It’s important to go to a doctor as opposed to trying anything “alternative” first. Of course, this all depends on your meaning of an alternative method of back pain relief. Some people would consider a thorough massage to be alternative pain relief, but a doctor may actually recommend it. After all, massages encourage that all-important blood flow I mentioned earlier. It also works muscles that are hard to work otherwise.
Perhaps the most famous “real” alternative therapy here is acupuncture. It’s been touted for years as the ultimate in back pain relief, especially when it comes to the lower back. Its efficacy has been questioned for many years, and there were no real signs that it made that much difference even if it did work. Earlier this year, however, studies seemed to prove once and for all that acupuncture does absolutely nothing for back pain.