BACK PAIN IS A COMMON HUMAN AFFLICTION
BUT PAIN NEEDN’T BE THE NEW YOU
Helping maintain your back health
Most of us will have experienced back pain at some point in our life & it is one of the biggest health problems nationwide & one of the most common issues I see in my Bowen therapy clinic. Statistics suggest that 3-4% of adults under the age of 45 & 5-7% of adults over 45 experience chronic debilitating back pain. Back issues can be chronic or acute but either way, back pain is responsible for many work absences & a source of much emotional despair as it can leave sufferers feeling hugely restricted in life if they are unable to continue with their daily activities. For those with chronic back issues the negative emotions experienced can lead to further health complications due to the impact our mental wellbeing has on our physical condition, & vice-versa.
What is back pain?
Back pain is a very broad definition which is used by clients who come to me for Bowen Therapy treatments to describe pain & stiffness anywhere along the spine. Most commonly I see clients suffering with lower back pain – pain in the lumbosacral area of the back, usually in one spot or a combination of areas between the bottom of the ribs and the top of the legs. But clients also use The Bowen Technique for upper back pain, usually experienced in the area between the shoulder blades.
What causes back pain?
Humans have evolved to stand upright & walk on 2 feet leaving our arms & hands free to use tools for survival. Compared to our quadruped counterparts we have gravity exerting force on our spines from below & the weight of our head (between 2,3 & 5kg!) from above. Our natural curvatures (kyphosis in the upper back & lordosis in the lower back) are our spine’s shock absorbers which help absorb some of the stress from these forces.
But as we move through life our spines are subject to more stresses & strains than just gravity & heads. The following are just some of the common factors that might be contributing to your back issues;
- regularly carrying heavy objects eg babies, heavy bags etc
- sitting for long periods of time eg at work in an office or driving delivery vehicles
- spending excessive time looking at modern devices eg phones, tablets
- not drinking enough water
- not moving enough
- excessive exercise
- physical injury
- scar tissue over other areas of the body
- emotional stress – the spine is the column that keeps us upright & strong in the face of adversity.
Physical injury can cause damage to muscles/ligaments/tendons (creating pain to protect the body from further damage) & over time postural misalignment or restricted movement can lead to deterioration of the vertebra & vertebral joints or nerve compression (creating nerve type pain) However, where the back pain is not caused by injury the issues will likely stem from overly contracted muscles or muscles that aren’t functioning correctly leading to compensatory patterns throughout the body, poor posture & a restriction in range of movement in one or more areas of the body.
More rarely back pain can be a symptom of something more serious such as systemic infection or tumours.
How do I relieve back pain?
you should get checked by a medical professional if
- Your back pain is due to a recent injury – they can assess the area for soft tissue damage or damage to the spine
- you have neurological sensations or shooting pain that radiate into your legs & feet from the lower back, especially if you have difficulty urinating
- you have neurological sensations or shooting pain radiating into your neck, arms or chest
- you have back pain that doesn’t respond or change even with manual therapies such as The Bowen Technique, Osteopathy, Chiropractic or massage
There are some very simple things you can do to help relieve back pain:
- The Bowen Technique is a non-invasive hands on therapy which helps relieve pain & increase range of movement for people experiencing acute or chronic back pain. The technique helps relieve tension in soft tissue, correct compensatory patterns of movement & posture, reset the nervous system & relax the person so they can begin the healing & recovery process . Bowen Therapy can be used as a maintenance/preventative as well as a treatment for your issues.
- Keep moving! This may sound like agony but the less you move the stiffer your body will become which will prolong recovery time.
- Drink plenty of water! Take regular sips of water throughout the day to hydrate the tissues & prevent stiffness.
- Take warm baths & add Epsom Salts if you can. The magnesium from the Epsom salts will help with muscle tension & spasm & help induce restful sleep, essential for cell repair & cell regeneration.
- Take pain relief if your pain level is intolerably high to knock the edge off & help you keep moving
- Some people like to alternate between hot & cold compresses – heat dilates blood vessels & cold constricts blood vessels. Find which works best for you until you can get to see your Bowen therapist to get to the bottom of why you are in such pain.
Prevention is best!
How to prevent back pain:
- The Bowen Technique is a great way to stay on top of your spinal health by keeping your fascia (soft tissue) soft & pliable, preventing stiffness & keeping on top of compensatory patterns.
- Drink plenty of water – on average between 1.5 & 2 litres of water a day
- Keep moving – after 30 mins of being static have a walk around
- Avoid sitting in a draft or going to bed with wet hair