My advice to clients often includes 'rest, stretch, water, and massage' Yoga is a great way to stretch and strengthen as well as improve flexibility. The following are my five favorite yoga poses in no particular order.
You can follow the links I have provided for some great resources about yoga and more information on the poses. There are a lot of instructional videos on youtube and classes for beginners through advanced yogis in most communities.
When people think of massage one of the first things they think of is how good it feels. And, it does feel pretty great. But, the benefits of massage extend beyond that one hour appointment. These benefits affect nearly every system in the body. From acting on the nervous system to relieve stress and insomnia, to acting on the musculoskeletal system optimizing an athlete’s performance or helping a person’s recovery after injury. Anyone, of any age, can benefit from massage.
Massage helps decrease stress and anxiety. According to the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) a ‘study on the effect of trigger point therapy, there was a significant decrease in heart rate, systolic blood pressure8, and diastolic blood pressure. Measures of oxygen consumption, blood pressure, and salivary cortisol levels were all lower after a 10 to 15 minute chair massage in controlled studies. Changes in psychological states have been measured by physiological responses the Perceived Stress Scale, the POMS Depression Scale and the Anxiety State Scale.’
Massage helps relieve pain from injury, surgery or overuse. Massage improves circulation, including circulation within the muscle. A skilled therapist can utilize trigger point therapy, or ischemic compression, to help relieve tender points within muscles and positional release working with proprioceptors within the muscles and tendons to help relieve pain and improve mobility.
Lippincott, William and Wilkins, Therapeutic Massage in Athletics 2007, stated that massage may actually help prevent injury if received regularly. Student Athletes to Professional Athletes receive many forms of massage to improve performance and improve comfort and recovery from injuries. Some gyms have hydrotherapy treatments with hot and cold therapy. During the olympics it wasn’t unusual to see athletes with circular bruising from cupping. Think Michael Phelps. Or wearing colorful kinesio tape across muscles and joints.
Massage is even good for your skin. Massage encourages healthy circulation, even in the capillaries of the skin. And, healthy circulation improves oxygen delivery to cells and waste removal. Healthy skin helps protect us from illness and infection.
Massage has been used around the world since ancient times to treat illness and promote health. Massage has been shown to help improve balance in seniors and to soothe colicky babies. Massage helps keep athletes at peak performance and ease the stress of every day life. Physicians and insurance companies have recognized the benefit of massage and some insurance will even cover appointments. Massage is not a luxury it is beneficial to every body.
It’s estimated that 60-80% of people in the US experience back pain at one time in their life and up to 50% of workers will complain of having back pain during the last year. Those statistics are staggering. The causes of back pain are varied and individual. It can be from lifting things improperly, or repeatedly. It can also be from sitting in one position for extended periods of time. Even sitting on a thick wallet in your back pocket frequently will cause back pain.
The following quote about the cost of back pain in medical care and lost wages, as well as other factors is from the 2011 article, Relieving Pain in America: A Blueprint for Transforming Prevention, Care, Education and Research (link below). Considering escalating healthcare costs and cost of living the actual cost is most likely even greater today.
‘Total incremental cost of health care due to pain ranged from $261 to $300 billion. The value of lost productivity is based on three estimates: days of work missed (ranging from $11.6 to $12.7 billion), hours of work lost (from $95.2 to $96.5 billion), and lower wages (from $190.6 to $226.3 billion). Thus, the total financial cost of pain to society, which combines the health care cost estimates and the three productivity estimates, ranges from $560 to $635 billion. All estimates are in 2010 dollars.’
When people experience back pain others often share what helps relieve their pain. People will tell you to get a massage, rest, or use ice, or to not use ice and use heat. There are over the counter and prescription medications to help relieve back pain. Patches and soaks and ointments. Most people who experience chronic or frequent back pain will find what works best for them.
There are countless things to do when experiencing back pain. There are also things we should avoid to reduce our risk of developing back pain. Here are my top five.
While it may not be possible to eliminate back pain all together. Avoiding things that may cause or exacerbate back pain is just as important as the things you do to relieve pain once you’re experiencing it.