Enjoy the New Year without Back Pain
Updated: Jan 14, 2021
Begin the New Year with these real, long-term solutions to your back and joint pain
Is it just me or do the years seem to be moving faster and faster as time goes by? For many of us, the new year is an opportunity to consider small shifts we can make to have a happier, healthier 2020.
While this is the time of year many people are making New Year’s Resolutions, gradual, positive shifts tend to deliver longer-lasting results. If we choose to change just a few daily habits, we can truly transform our quality of life in 2020.
However, these shifts are difficult when we’re struggling with back pain. Persistent or chronic back pain can make even moderate activity too painful. No matter what kind of exercises we enjoy, trying to manage it with a “bad back” takes all the fun out of it … It just hurts too much.
Getting in Shape, Even with a Bad Back
We need to start off this section with an important disclaimer. Before you begin any sort of exercise regimen — especially if you’re in pain — consult with your physician. Being safe is a key aspect of staying healthy in 2020.
If you are suffering from back pain or joint pain, try gentle stretching every day. It’s often good to stretch first thing in the morning. Stretching helps reduce joint stiffness and pain. And, when you do it first thing, you work out the kinks from sleeping and start your day feeling fresh and limber. Avoid exercises and activities that could add stress on your back, including jogging, tennis, basketball or other sports that require a lot of bending, twisting or bouncing. Instead, try a brisk walk through your neighborhood or a local park. Footwear is another factor to consider. If you don’t have enough arch support, shock-absorption, or your shoes are not the right fit, that can cause a great deal of back and knee pain. You might also try swimming, yoga or Pilates. Each of these activities is a tremendous, low-impact workout that will protect your joints as you strengthen your muscles. If your doctor approves, you may even try supervised strength training or an exercise program with a certified personal trainer who can customize your workout according to your ability and goals.
As you’re getting started, give yourself permission to begin easy and build up. Protect your body, keep it up and let the process do the work.
Shifting your Diet Helps Reduce Back Pain
Diet plays an important role in this process as well. When we choose foods that build muscle, reduce inflammation and offer the nutrients our cells need to thrive, we not only strengthen our joints, we encourage healing and prevent further injury or disease.
Inflammation and dehydration are two of the most common factors that cause joint disease to progress, and this is especially true in our spines. Because the space between our spinal vertebrae is so small, and the protective discs between them are primarily made of water, swelling and fluid loss are primary contributors to joint pain and disease.
Inflammation and dehydration are two of the most common factors that cause joint disease to progress.
Here are a few easy dietary shifts you can make to reduce joint pain and build a healthier back.
Stay hydrated — In addition to keeping your spinal discs and cartilage hydrated, drinking enough water also assists in digestion and suppresses appetite.
Reduce portion sizes — How much we eat can be just as important as what we eat. If you find yourself overeating at meals, add healthy snacks between meals to keep your metabolism working and control your appetite.
Try inflammation fighting foods — Some foods actively fight inflammation, while increasing our metabolism to help us lose weight faster. Fish and nuts can be an outstanding source of omega-3 fatty acids, which fight inflammation, and leafy greens like spinach, collards and kale as well.
Opt for high-protein muscle builders — one of the best ways to burn fat is to build muscle, and certain foods can help with that. Cottage cheese, Greek yogurt and eggs are all examples of muscle-building proteins packed with healthy fats.
Shed a few pounds — In addition to dietary changes, reaching and maintaining a healthy weight relieves added stress on our backs, hips and knees. Losing excess weight, combined with strengthening our muscles, eating the right nutrients and staying properly hydrated drastically reduces our risks of developing progressive, degenerative joint disease.
Dealing with Lingering Pain
While dietary changes, losing weight, stretching and low-impact exercise will help reduce pain and inflammation, sometimes, these steps are not enough. If that’s the case, try cold packs to reduce inflammation, and alternate with heat to increase blood flow. If you can take them, over-the-counter pain medication may also help.
If you have tried all these conservative treatments, and the pain lingers, it may be an indication of a deeper underlying problem. The same wear and tear that causes general back pain can lead to many different spinal diseases including Degenerative Disc Disease, Herniated Disc,