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A Pain in the Back

Have you ever experienced back pain? Maybe you experience it regularly or maybe you can recall that time you could not get off the couch as a rush of pain sent you falling back into the soft cushions. If you have, you would be among the 65 million Americans that report having back pain – the 6th most costly condition in the United States.

While there are so many options to treat back pain, including chiropractors, massage therapists and acupuncturists, what is most important to consider is whether the treatments you are exploring are only temporarily relieving the pain for a few days. If that is the case for you, it is time to look at your treatment plans and figure out what is triggering your discomfort.

As a rule, we recommend a 3-month trial series of treatments with the professionals mentioned above and if you do not see improvement during those months, you should consider a different approach. Ideally, you will start to notice steady progress in your pain relief within 90 days and if you have not narrowed down what is triggering the pain at that time then the cause of pain is still there just waiting to flare up again. For some of us, the cause of pain is obvious. Perhaps we fell or had an accident and can pinpoint the why and where. Unfortunately, for most cases, the reason for the pain is not quite as obvious and requires exploration and time. When we conduct thermal imagery for clients with back pain, we most often discover that their pain is caused by poor posture, sitting too much, and incorrect form during exercise and weightlifting. And sometimes, everyday activities that seem otherwise good for you can cause you pain.

Take spinning or cycling for instance – spending hours every week a hunched positioning is not natural for our bodies to maintain for long periods. Overworking one set of muscles while underworking another can cause our body discomfort which will eventually lead to pain if not treated. For example, I have a Peloton that I use every day, but I treat my body by ensuring I do a variety of exercises both on and off my bike – the key to a strong body and mind. The biggest advice I offer to all my clients is to add a variety of workouts and exercises to their regimes that are functional to their lifestyles and focus on the whole body versus looking to only work one muscle group at a time.

Imagine that the front end of your car is out of alignment which causes your tires to wear unevenly. This can also happen to your muscles. Repetition can throw the body out of alignment, forcing it to adapt and work at strange angles, wearing down your joints, ligaments, tendons - creating muscle imbalances.

So what can you do if you are in pain and need to start considering a treatment plan that is right for you? First, take steps to allow your body to heal. Your back pain is just a symptom, not the cause, so you have to commit to being your health detective and start investigating your habits that are paving the way to pain. Consult your doctor, chiropractor, acupuncturist, functional health and wellness coach or your certified thermographer and be very clear that your health objective is to understand the ‘big picture’ of what is causing you pain and that you are not just looking for a quick fix. Plus, start with a few simple strategies at home like maintaining a healthy diet and weight, avoid prolonged inactivity, warm-up or stretch before physical activities, wear comfortable, low-heeled shoes, quit smoking, and maintain proper posture. Remember, you do not have to live with back pain forever – you just have to advocate for yourself to figure out why you are.

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