Often, I wake up with back pain in the morning. Hoping that a hot shower will help relieve some of the tense pressure, I will stand under the water to relax the muscles. This doesn’t always work, or it alleviates the pain only slightly or temporarily. To truly alleviate the soreness and stiffness I (and many others) feel, we have to get to the root cause of the pain.
It is estimated that 31 million people suffer from back pain. Some of it may be caused by simply the way you sleep at night (or during the day for those who are more nocturnal). Laying in certain positions, or laying in the same position for too long, can cause compression in the muscles of the back. This is especially true of those who, like me, sleep on their stomach; doing so reduces your spine’s ability to support your body’s weight. To reduce this cause of back pain, I’ve adopted a doctor-suggested position of laying on my sides. Doctors also suggest that when you sleep on your side you place a pillow between your legs. I just bunch up the blanket to get the same effect.
Stress can lead to back pain, and I have been under a lot of stress over the last several months! I assumed the stress was making me tense, therefore tightening my back muscles more often than they should be. This may not be the case however. The pain could be psychosomatic. It is suggested that emotional or psychological stress can manifest itself physically, predominantly in the back. This concept is called Tension Myositis Syndrome. If this is the cause of your back pain, try to find a way to reduce the amount of stress you are under. Exercise or yoga are good ways to alleviate stress (work those muscles!). Reading a book or listening to music are calming, relaxing methods to do the same. You can do what many, including myself, have done and remove the root cause of the stress; switch careers, change your lifestyle. Don’t worry, be happy!
On the subject of exercise, I don’t get enough. I walk quite a bit, back and forth within the four walls of work, and I do a lot of tasks. It’s not enough. I do not do more intense activities that work more of my back muscles. Standing for hours at a time without bending or twisting is not good for you. The lack of movement causes stiffness in the back, and over-tightened muscles can be painful. Workouts stretch and move your muscles, keeping them loose and in shape. Workouts also burn calories which helps reduce your weight. The less you weigh, the less pressure and pulling there is on your back. Plus, you feel good after exercising, reducing stress on your body; again, relieving back pain. Exercising is a triple-win!
Back pain has many internal causes, too many to list. There are several spinal issues that can cause back pain. Strained ligaments from sudden movements or heavy lifting are common. Spinal stenosis compresses the nerves in your spine against the spinal cord. Numbness, cramping, and pinching are the results of this form of arthritis. Osteoporosis, which is the fracturing of the bones in the spine, can be a common cause of back pain for women as they get older. Other causes for pain can be linked to the kidneys. Your kidneys are responsible for flushing fluids from your body. When kidney stones develop, the pain can spread around the entire lower back. Infections in the kidneys can do the same. Thankfully, I have not had to experience any of these, but there are millions of people who unfortunately have. For overall wellness, consult a chiropractor. They will be able to diagnose the cause and make medical recommendations for treatment. To prevent some of these issues, exercise and eating/drinking healthy are key.
Now that I have identified, and remedied, some of the causes of my back pain, I can start feeling better. I can also stop taking such long showers and hopefully save on my water bill!