Running a business, editing, researching, posting, marketing, conversations. Or as I like to refer to them as “Back Breakers”
I’ve had bulging discs all throughout my upper spine and neck for many years and have lived with pain for a long time.
Age, lifestyle, nutrition, and stress are all major factors with chronic back and neck pain. Most pain is treated with anti-inflammatory medications and muscle relaxants. Muscle-relaxers can have unwanted side effects such as drowsiness, dizziness, agitation, headaches, irritability, and nervousness. The use of anti-inflammatories over a long period of time can result in damage to the kidneys, liver, and even the gastro-intestinal tract. It is also known to even increase inflammation if overused.
Fortunately, there are a few simple lifestyle adjustments that can help ease chronic pain for good. These may not be easy, and in fact will take some will power to create long lasting habits, but these small changes everyday have helped me tremendously and can make a huge difference in your long-term health.
Changing Your Diet
Moderation is key: Try to first lower your portion sizes. Eating just a little bit less everyday will add up. Vary up your diet to include more healthy fats and proteins which keep you feeling more full for longer. Reduce the amount of processed sugar you are consuming, whether it’s one less soda a day or cutting half the sugar out of your coffee in the morning. One tip would be to reduce how much you use by a very little each day so that it’s barely noticeable. After a while you’ll begin to notice your taste change as well.
Colorful eating: the FDA recommends 2-3 cups of vegetables and 1-2 cups of fruit a day; adding some “color” to your plate also adds a variety of nutrients!
Dairy and dessert: dairy and sugar are very inflammatory and can exacerbate your pain. The only way to know for sure is to go without dairy and sugar for one to two weeks.
Build up to it if you have to, and note how your body feels. Do you feel you can move easier? What happens to your body after you eat dairy and sugar again?
Prepare your meals ahead of time, pick a time every week to dedicate to eating your way to less back pain.
Pain is stressful on our body and mind. That physical stress results in our muscles tightening up, causing us more pain. This never-ending cycle between pain and stress can be hard to tolerate and can spiral out of control fast. Simple meditation for around 10 minutes a day can help reduce anxiety and provide us with a sense of focus. It helps us to cope better with any stress that comes our way in the future. Clearing our mind also helps us focus on recovery. Try any free meditation app for a week and see if doing it daily makes any difference in your pain tolerance.
Your body does most of its recovery during deep sleep. Sleep loss releases more stress, lowers our pain tolerance and can even worsen our pain. Avoid your phone for at least one hour before bedtime to help your internal clock provide you with the deep sleep needed to recover. Meditation is also helpful before bedtime, when our thoughts can keep us up at night.
Increase Physical Activity
Exercise is essential to keeping ourselves healthy. As much as you are able to, even when we’re in pain, exercise is critical to recovery (this is why we encourage physical therapy). Anything you can do is better than nothing. Going for a walk outside or on a treadmill are the best ways to start. Pop on your favorite playlist or podcast and let your mind wander as you walk your way to being pain-free.
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