Hi again. Backaches can be really nagging. They can start with pulling a ligament or muscle in any area of the back during any activity. I say any because, I have heard fairly active people pull and injure their back while bending to pick something at home. It could arise from out of treadmill activity (wrong posture, foot pronation or strained lower limb muscles etc) or from strength training (wrong techniques or over-training) or evening a stretch gone wrong. The pain just stays on and prevents them from living fully for weeks. In some cases, the pain returns on doing something strenuous. However, the good news is, you can do a lot if you ever experience this condition. Here are a few good tips:
1. Alternate between Hot and Cold Applications: Before you get an appointment to see the doctor, there may be a few hours or days you have at hand. Use this time to act on the condition. Do not self medicate. You can put a hot water bottle wrapped in soft cloth on the affected area of the back for a maximum of 20 minutes at a time. You can also soak in a warm water bath for a while. Your next application should be a Cold treatment couple of hours after the hot treatment. You could apply an icepack for no longer than 20 minutes at a time or run cold water over it.
2. Local or Topical Analgesic Gel: You may apply any over-the-counter analgesic gel on the affected area. Read the instructions for dosage, frequency and method of application. Read the ingredients to see if you are allergic to any of it.
3. Breathing: Don’t be surprised but breathing is a proven and effective way to tackle pain. If you can sit yourself straight and breathe in deeply to full lung capacity, then hold at full for 3 seconds and exhale slowly till you feel the lungs are empty, it will go a long way to help ease the pain. Take care that breathing should not be done in spurts and should be very controlled. Try and concentrate on the affected area of your back while breathing.
4. Light Stretching: Though one should never try and exercise out of a sore back, one should not cut on all activities – this will make the muscles around the affected area stiff in mild shock response and will take longer to heal. Stretch prudently using mild body postures and be tuned into body signals all the time in the duration of stretching.
5. Massage (Sport or Osteopathic): Find a good/reputed and certified sports masseur in you area and get an appointment. A certified or qualified osteopath will also give you a wise, needed and right massage, working the tissues in and around the affected area and will try to strengthen the support muscles for the affected area of your back.
6. Acupuncture: This ancient Chinese therapy uses fibre-thin sterilized steel needles, which are inserted at certain trigger points that help release endorphins in the body. This helps tackle pain better and increase our level of enduring pain.
7. Magnetic therapy: This is a Korean technique where small or medium sized magnetic buttons are tied to the affected area of the back. The disturbed energy-fields in this area are then rectified as it encounters the supra-magnetic field of the buttons affixed on the top. Some healing begins in this process.
8. Check Pronation of the Feet: This could be the trigger that set off the back pain. Check out your pronation. If you cannot, have your doctor or therapist look at it. A stiff hamstring or a problem with the shin or ankles could also be the cause. These conditions cause you to put land your feet on the floor at wrong angles stressing your back repeatedly. Use insoles if your feet have pronation.
Whatever, it is you choose to do, use your joints, postures and activities prudently and use your back in ways where you work around the injury to achieve a task. Learn the right techniques to foot strike and weight lifting etc. In other words, be finely tuned-in to your body while working out.
Until next week, train safe and stay fit…