Having a back that aches with pain when it rains, after sitting too long, standing too long, and pretty much any other time of the day can really start to dampen your morale.
No, I don’t want to go hiking with my friends this weekend because I know once we get a mile in I’ll be miserable for the rest of the way.
Taking a cross-country adventure and sleeping in the car? No thanks. Sounds like a disaster in the making that no amount of chiropractic visits could amend.
After a while, I started to realize my pain was in control of me. Why should having a bad back get to dictate my adventures and experiences? I was tired of letting my pain hold me back.
So what did I do? I took control.
Accepting the pain
You can try living in denial and avoiding your pain, pushing through and doing things that you know you are exceeding your body’s limits. You can also live in anger and let the frustration of dealing with the pain get to you.
But neither of these strategies will get you very far, trust me.
As soon as you accept your pain, it loses its control over you. No longer will you be fighting against it with anger. Instead, you will just realize it’s a part of your life just like anything else that you have to account for.
Easier said than done, I know. But eventually ,you have to come to terms with this. Once you accept your pain, you can be in a better position to strategize ways to remedy it.
Adjusting my exercise
When people experience injuries, they take it easy for a while. If you have a sprained ankle you can sit out of exercise for a few weeks and then you’re good to go. But when you live with constant pain, you can’t really choose to forgo exercise forever.
Exercising is something that is important to me. It makes me feel good. It makes me look good (which again makes me feel good). Overall, it’s not a part of life I can just toss out.
Obviously, l can’t vigorously exercise regularly. But that wasn’t so obvious at first. It was a learning experience just like anything else. Instead of going on runs or sprinting on the treadmill, I go on walks instead for some cardio activity.
I’ve also found that yoga and pilates are great for people with back pain. Stretching, in general, helps make my muscles feel better. By incorporating yoga, I’ve also been able to relax and find peace of mind. Pilates exercises are a great way to avoid vigorous workouts but still strengthen your core. As you work on strengthening your core muscles, it also helps to strengthen your back and improve your posture _ something I later found out was incredibly important.
I tried out a cycling class to increase my cardio activity, but it seemed to only cause me more back pain from hunching over the bike. The seat isn’t so comfortable either. Maybe it was just me and I did it incorrectly, but I wouldn’t recommend cycling to people with back pain (or pretty much anyone).
Finding the right healing method
There are basically three different types of specialists who treat back pain [https://www.spine-health.com/
Primary care providers
This includes your basic doctor you visit and chiropractors. From what I’ve found, a basic doctor will apologize for your pain and put you on a pain-relieving drug. I’m not big on taking medications, so this wasn’t the best treatment for me.
Chiropractors work on correcting your spinal alignment. Their livelihood pretty much depends on your alignment not being correct, so why would they tell you otherwise? Essentially, I don’t trust them, and the abrupt, cracking noises frighten me.
These are the big dogs. Need a correctional surgery or have a rare condition? This is who you go to.
Physical and occupational therapists focus on rehabilitating back pain or treating chronic pain. This is a great place to get strengthening exercises that will help you actively treat your pain.
If you’ve ever had a serious health problem before, you’ve probably done the run-through of different specialists before and you know how tiring and disheartening it can be. No matter who you go to, it feels like no one can truly solve your problem.
I’m not recommending that you skip the doctors. I think it’s very important for everyone to speak with licensed physicians along with their journey. But for me, I’ve found that what worked best was getting the exercises I needed and then independently work on strengthening my back.
Find what works best for you and what you’re most comfortable with to find your healing.
Working on my posture
Growing up, my mom gave me a hard time about having correct posture. As a child, I couldn’t care less about sitting up straight. Looking back now, maybe I should’ve listened to her.
Keeping the correct posture is extremely important in protecting your spine. I worked on sitting up straighter every day — my mom would be so proud — but I wasn’t finding that it was helping too much at first. That’s when I started doing some research and learned that while your waking posture is really important for fixing your back pain, your sleeping posture is too. If your spine isn’t in correct alignment while you’re sleeping, you’re practically doomed to be in pain the next day.
I was a hardcore stomach sleeper before, and although it was difficult to change, I finally figured out how to adjust to sleeping on my back to put less pressure on my spine during the night. I also used to use a memory foam topper on my bed, but it turns out that sleeping on a surface that is too soft or too firm is also bad for you. So I ditched the topper and rested comfortably a more medium-firm surface.
There are old myths that sleeping on the ground can help with back pain, but I’m not ready to go that extreme yet. It also has been proven that super firm surfaces aren’t always the best anyways.
Learning to live with chronic back pain
Coping with my back pain has been a difficult journey, but I’m so glad that I finally learned to accept it and properly adjust my lifestyle. I don’t have to sacrifice any part of my life that I love; I just learned how to make some simple modifications to improve my experiences.
Let your pain remind you how strong and invincible you are. Besides, without any pain, the best moments in life wouldn’t feel as great.
If back pain, or any type of chronic pain, disrupts your life, learn to take control over it. As soon as you can regain control of your life, you’ll be much happier and it helps make the pain seem not as bad.