2020 has been a bad year for back pain. COVID-19 has seen us all working from home, in suboptimal working conditions, with increased stress and anxiety. In my work specialising in back pain I’ve personally seen a huge surge in people suffering from back pain.
When I had back pain many years ago, it would come and go. At times, I felt like it was something that I was just going to have to put up with.
If you’re in a bit of pain you might think, what’s the big problem with having a bit of back pain now? It might start off as the odd day here and there but eventually that pain can lead to missed days of work, not being able to socialise with friends, or even being referred for surgery (which – by the way – I always recommend clients of mine try to avoid).
I believe that everyone deserves to live a life where they feel good in their bodies every single day. They are strong, they have a confident posture and they move well. They don’t worry that they’re going to injure themselves, they are confident about taking up new hobbies and they generally feel positive and full of life!
How did I beat back pain?
Having personally experienced low back pain myself, I tried A LOT of different things over 10 years, so I’d like to share the top habits that worked for me!
For me, the first step towards getting over back pain was taking up regular Pilates. Pilates is very effective at building strength around your back. Unlike yoga where you might hold a stretch for 2-3 minutes, Pilates helps you build strength rather than just flexibility. Often when it comes to pain it’s not a lack of flexibility but actually a lack of strength that contributes to pain.
When I first started Pilates I was often scared about moving my spine because I thought movements might cause me more pain. Pilates helped me overcome fear of movement and taught me key exercises I could do on a daily basis.
Regular Pilates also helped me build a great level of base strength in my core, spine, legs and arms. The key thing here was taking up regular practice, not just dropping in and out of classes. In order to build strength, you have to be consistent. Make sure you schedule time for yourself and invest in your wellbeing.
When my back was at its worst, I wasn’t very good at relaxing. The idea of sitting on the sofa with nothing to do would fill me with absolute dread, so I would fill my days with doing things. If I wasn’t busy ‘doing’, I would feel lost and anxious.
I took up Transcendental Meditation three years ago. Meditation has been incredibly helpful for me. It has helped me learn how to relax and it made me more aware of my own thoughts and feelings. I learned how to let thoughts and feelings pass. Have you ever had thoughts about your back pain such as ‘what’s wrong with me?’ or ‘maybe I’ll always have back pain?’ Sometimes thoughts and beliefs like these can actually contribute to your back pain.
Since taking up meditation I don’t really get stressed any more. I can also accept thoughts and feelings for what they are. They come and they go, but I don’t chase them.
Schedule time for myself
How often do you take 30 minutes of time just to focus on your own wellbeing? With the additional stress and pressure from COVID it can seem harder than ever before to schedule time for yourself. When was the last time you stepped away from your laptop and took a moment to just ‘be’?
Making time for yourself may look different depending on what you like to do. For me, it’s often taking a walk or spending some time in nature. I have continued to schedule time for myself and I fully believe this habit not only got rid of pain but helped me to create a successful business.
Move beyond pain
There you have my three habits – taking up a movement practice, reducing stress and making time for my own wellbeing.
These things not only helped me beat pain but they also helped me develop into someone who is confident, calm and happy. Once I’d beaten pain I set up a business, took up climbing and developed a very positive romantic relationship. Don’t let pain get in the way of your life – try these simple things to build wellness that lasts a lifetime.
If you’d like to try Pilates please contact us to book onto a free intro class today!