5 Simple and Empowering Tips for Back Pain Relief Without a Doctor
1. Pay Attention to How You Sit and Stand.
Back pain can be greatly relieved by raising your awareness level to how you use your body during your daily activities. The general misconception is that when we are engaging in sedentary activities, such as sitting down or standing still, the body is resting and rejuvenating. In fact, when we are not consciously aware of how to use the body well, sitting for long periods of time and standing are very difficult on the body. You must begin to pay attention to and examine how you are sitting and standing. When the body is collapsed, slumped, pulling downward with general bad posture, the entire body must work very hard to compensate. The result over a long period of time is often chronic back pain. Luckily, there is a relationship within the body, the way that the parts work together and are organized, that counteracts this pull of gravity, collapse, and bad posture in the body. This relationship is called the “Primary Control” and it is a holistic understanding of how each of the parts of the body work together in harmony, to support the well-being and efficiency of the body. The Alexander Technique teaches how to organize the primary control, but the first step is to begin raising your awareness to the habits in your body.
2. Listen to Your Back Pain.
Many times, we are so understandably upset and immobilized by our pain, that we do anything we can to get immediate relief, such as having irreversible, invasive surgery or taking pain medication several times a day. However, pain is the body’s way of getting your attention, alerting you that something is going wrong. Your body is saying: “Ouch! This is not right! You have to find another way. Try something else!” When we listen to what our body is telling us, we gain the insight of having wonderful feedback mechanism. If I am sitting at my desk, and after a long period of time my back starts to hurt, I will get up, stretch out. Walk to the water cooler and get a drink. The moment I being to feel pain, I will address that area of my body by seeing if I am collapsing or overly tense. I will put both my feet on the ground or I may take a break to lie on my back. But, I will do anything else than continue doing what I am doing that causes me pain.
3. Keep Both Feet Firmly Planted on the Ground.
This is an easy one. When you catch yourself crossing your legs or leaning back with your feet up, remind yourself to have two feet firmly planted on the ground. The reason for this is that when we do not have our feet on the ground, our body has difficulty orienting in space. When we do not have our feet on the ground, our body seeks to gain stability and support by creating tension in other parts of the body (typically the lower back, hip, and neck). Our feet on the ground informs us that we have solid support beneath us, so that the rest of our body can rest a little easier.
4. Take Time to Lie on the Floor.
This is the tip that I love to do most. When you feel back pain or general discomfort in the back, take 5-10 minutes time no matter where you are to lie on your back with your knees bent (semi-supine) with a three-inch thick book under your head. I don’t care if people think I am weird. I often lie on the floor near my desk or on nice days I will step outside to a small park. During this time, I think about all the places in the body where I am holding tension, in the legs, hip, arms, neck, and I think about undoing that tension. I achieve undoing this tension by thinking of tensing as an activity that you are already doing, and one that you simply need to stop doing. The release in the body for this kind of thoughtful rest is immense! Sometimes, it feels like you hit the refresh button on your entire day.
5. Take Alexander Technique Lessons.
Raising your awareness to how you use your body is the first step in back pain relief. Contacting a certified Alexander Technique teacher is essential to continuing the healing process, as these teachers are experts in how to help their students recognize bad habits in the body. AT teachers act as a guide for how reorganize the body to improve overall use. Without the specialized knowledge and hands-on work of an Alexander Technique teacher, it would be impossible to experience the correct organization of the body because we would be relying on the habitual understanding of the body as the context through which you approach organization the body (see the dilemma?). That is why it is so important to take private lessons. However, the most awesome part of the Alexander Technique is that you are learning how to bring about a better use of the body yourself. Your teacher gives you the tools to help yourself. The benefits of the technique on the body, and especially in back pain relief are endless, and as you gain proficiency and see results, you will no longer need a doctor, chiropractor, or AT teacher to manage your pain because you will have the knowledge to help and overcome it yourself.