The number one contributor to back pain is poor posture. We all suffer with poor posture because, as a global culture, we Sit ALL the time. Unfortunately, chronic sitting leads to all sorts of postural mis-alignments including rounded shoulders, weak low back, tight hips, sciatica, distended belly, stiff neck, headaches, TMJ, and more. Never knew all that could be related to how you sit, huh?!
Here's the kicker: there's no getting out of it. All of our societal infrastructure leads us to sit: in the car on the way to and from work, at your desk while you work all day long, at the table when you eat, on the couch when you watch a movie to unwind.
The good news, though, is that there ARE some things you can do to reverse the curve, to correct your posture and relieve your chronic pain. Follow these simple suggestions to relieve your back pain immediately!
1. Change The Way You Are Sitting.
It's true. Just a couple of adjustments to the WAY you sit can do wonders for relieving chronic back pain. Start by leaning forward in your seat and moving your sitting bones further back in the chair. You can even use your hands to pull the flesh of your glutes back away from the bones. As you return to upright, you will notice your pelvis is tipped ever-so-slightly forward which makes it much easier for your spine to align in the most efficient position. You will feel the natural curves of your spine snaking their way upward and you will be able to sit completely upright with very little effort.
Of course, because this position is unfamiliar, you may get fatigued and slip easily back into your regular, rounded posture. The most important thing here is consistency in practice. Every time you think of it, try adjusting your posture and eventually it will become a new habit and easier to maintain.
Yoga may seem overrated, but the truth is that stretching every day will save your body! You don't have to go to the gym or to the studio or even have a yoga mat at all to be able to spend a few minutes mindfully connecting with your breath and stretching out the places that feel tight and sore. As little as 15 or 20 minutes of focused stretch time will improve mobility, increase range of motion, correct poor posture, and reduce chronic back pain over time. Even if you don't stretch or do yoga, you can still ease your pain simply by taking a 5-10 minute break every hour. Just pause what you're doing, stand up, walk around, take some deep breaths and get centered before returning to your work.
Ready to stretch but on't know where to begin?
Follow along with this short video to stretch your body and relieve your pain.
3. Get A Massage.
Massage is often viewed as a "treat" or a way to pamper oneself, and while it is relaxing and immensely enjoyable to receive a good massage, it is also extremely therapeutic and has great benefits for healing the body over the long term.
Massage improves circulation, increases range of motion, releases chronic tension, and can even help to realign poor posture. It is an inevitable part of life that our bodies build up tension and experience aches and pains. There's no avoiding it, no matter how healthy or active you are. Getting a massage can be viewed as a necessary practice to reduce your stress, relax your body and mind, and should be valued as an essential part of "Self Care".
Massage is also a wonderful way to build intimacy and connection in relationships and is great to share between husbands and wives, parents and children, and even friends who want to take care of each other.
If you're interested in learning some basic massage techniques to share with friends and loved ones, hop on over to the Jen Hilman Community channel and follow along with this guided Thai massage sequence for relieving back pain.