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Have you experienced lower back pain in your lifetime? How about in the last 3 months? About 25% of people (both men and women) have experienced lower back pain in the last 3 months and about 80% of people will experience it in their lifetime. Lower back pain is one of the leading causes of missed work days. Would you like to learn how to treat lower back pain and sciatica?
My back pain began when I was 17 years old. I was a high school cheerleader who was dropped from a basket toss during a basketball game. If you don't know what that means, this tweet shows a basketball toss (the cheerleader in the video was caught when she came down, whereas I wasn't).
Whether your pain came on as the result of a particular movement, or due to changes over time, read on. (If you are injured, please see a physician; the information in this post is intended for healthy people and is not intended to replace your doctor's advice.)
(NOTE: This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, I may receive a small compensation. Thank you in advance for any purchases you make through these links. Know that your support is appreciated.)
For all of my 20's, I was able to manage my back pain with semi-regular visits to a chiropractor. At around age 30, I started a desk job and my lower back pain became more of a problem. About seven years ago, I had a stint with lower back pain that lasted for months and was becoming unbearable and seemed to be untreatable. I had been to a physician, chiropractors, and physical therapists, all to no avail.
My first pain-free day came after I went to Midway, Utah and performed yoga on a paddle board over a hot spring at the Homestead Crater.
I'm not sure if it was the yoga or the water that was so beneficial, but the following morning was my first pain-free morning in months. I learned I could somewhat replicate the effects by doing more yoga. Specifically, I found child's pose, thread the needle, triangle, reverse triangle, and the star pose to be most helpful. (See YouTube video below subheading 3 for a demonstration of some of these poses).
My experience of pain relief after a day at Homestead Crater led me to research more about the healing waters there and at other hot springs. What I discovered is that the waters in these springs often have a high mineral and sulfur content. I learned that by supplementing with MSM, I could provide my body with some of the sulfur that is absorbed into the skin at the hot springs. Supplementing with MSM offers many benefits in addition to alleviating lower back pain.
To buy: $7.59, amazon.com
Of course, you'll want to add MSM to the best nutrition you can for optimum results. I have written extensively on the subject. If you're still on the fence about whether or not to supplement your diet, in general, read here. Remember to consult with your physician about any changes to your supplement regime.
Probably the most unexpected and also most essential of the suggested remedies here is walking backwards. In fact, walking backwards was like the day doing yoga at Homestead Crater in that I woke up with full relief the morning after my FIRST trial. Walking backwards, however, is more accessible than doing yoga in a hot spring.
As a personal trainer, I receive a publication from the American Council on Exercise which cites recent exercise studies. One day as I thumbed through one of these publications, a single sentence popped out at me. This sentence said that studies showed walking backwards on a treadmill could relieve lower back pain. I was in the habit at the time of walking my middle son to school every day. The morning after reading this, I walked backwards for one block while my son and I visited and he watched for obstacles behind me. The next morning, as I stated above, was my second pain-free morning in months. I have found that walking backwards works well for me as a remedy for lower back pain and sciatica. Remember to exercise caution whenever you walk backwards (be aware of your surroundings and have a spotter if necessary). Watch this video from Z Me on YouTube for a demonstration of effective stretches and walking backwards.
YouTube Video: YouTube.com/watch?v=Bc9V8pSk3vU
If you have consistent back pain, you might want to consider your mattress. Maybe try sleeping away from home for a few days and see what happens. I know of a few people who remedied their lower back pain by replacing their mattress. If a new mattress isn't in the budget, or even if it is, you might also consider a knee pillow. I learned the trick of sleeping with a pillow between my knees (while on my side) or under my knees (while on my back) when I was pregnant. While any pillow will do, my boyfriend recently bought me an actual knee pillow and I have to admit I like it better than my old stand-by.
To buy: $14.95, amazon.com
Another long-term remedy and preventative for back pain is to develop strength in your abdominal and back muscles. Your abdominal muscles wrap your mid-section in a kind of stabilizing corset. Allowing those muscles to become weak or to stay weak sets you up for poor postural habits, pain, and possibly injury.
Tight hamstrings also lead to misalignment issues which predispose you to injury. If you want to learn more about foam rolling or how to do it, click here. The video below shows some standard hamstring stretches to try.
YouTube Video: YouTube.com/watch?v=oRdXgERlSag
When I first started my desk job 13-1/2 years ago, I was issued a terrible office chair that left my lower back sore at the end of the day. Understanding office ergonomics and the importance of healthy posture at work, I purchased a ball chair. I've been using the chair most weekdays for over a decade (I've had to replace the ball a few times). The chair pictured below is the exact chair I purchased. BONUS: You can also use the ball for ab-strengthening exercises.
To buy: $73.27, amazon.com
While trying to learn how to treat lower back pain and sciatica, I discovered that the shoes I wore made a difference. Notice if certain shoes you wear affect your back more than others, especially if you're standing a lot. The shoes that helped my back the most through that rough time were Negative Heel Shoes. The heel in negative heel shoes sits lower than you're probably used to, and helps with stride and postural correction.
To buy: amazon.com
I had already resolved my back issues by the time I heard of supplementing collagen, but I include it in my list of ideas for how to treat lower back pain and sciatica based on my sister's experience. My sister also struggled with lower back pain and sciatica. She found that supplementing with collagen was what finally helped her treat her pain issues. (I intend to devote a future post to collagen supplementation, so be on the watch for that).
It is my sincere hope that one of my suggestions helps you in your quest to learn how to treat your lower back pain and sciatica. My main message, though, is that whatever your experience with these nine tips, don't simply accept pain and discomfort as a normal part of your life. Stay open to alternative treatments and ideas, keep trying new methods and hopefully something will eventually work for you.
Marcy Vogler is a lifestyle makeover coach, personal trainer, and mother of three. Marcy is passionate about helping women make over their lives from the inside out. To learn more about the courses Marcy offers, check out our parter website at www.thegoodlife4u.club. For daily inspiration, join Marcy's Facebook Group: Love Your Day, Love Your Life.
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