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The most important and often neglected part of the human body is the back. Back muscles assist the body in all of its functions and are the epicenter of the butt, hips, chest, shoulders and neck. According to WebMD, “Back pain often happens because something is off in the way your spinal joints, muscles, discs, and nerves fit together,” which worsens as people age. Adults over the age of 60 can experience back pain related to the declination of joints in the spine. When trying to reduce or manage pain, do not just treat one physical symptom; consider the whole body, taking mental and social factors into account. This is known as holistic health, which focuses on the wellbeing of an individual instead of specific parts. Here are a few holistic ways to reduce stress in the low back and manage pain.
Maintaining and building strong and healthy muscles comes from exercising regularly. Strengthening the muscles, especially the abdominals, can prevent low back pain and improve posture. According to WebMD, “Depending on the cause of your pain, your treatment could include lifestyle changes, medication, or possibly surgery.” Make sure to check with a healthcare professional before starting any exercise routines.
Many older adults spend an abundance of time in a sedentary position, which is known to play a huge part in lower back problems. Sitting for longer than a few hours can tighten and shorten the hip flexors and hamstrings, which can affect posture and back muscles. Stretching keeps muscles flexible, strong and healthy and ultimately relieves the stress and pain of the lower back that comes from long periods of sitting.
Experiencing some type of stress is inevitable and can actually cause stress-related lower back pain. The theory of stress-related pain follows the notion that psychological and emotional states can have positive and negative effects on the body. When diagnosing stress-related lower back pain, SpineHealth mentioned that, “… you should not self-diagnose. Your pain may be caused by a serious medical condition, and so you need to consult with a qualified medical professional.” Upon confirming with a medical professional that stress is the cause of lower back pain, consider seeking help through counseling or therapy to learn different strategies on how manage and reduce stress.
Use Hot/Cold Therapies
Hot and cold therapies are used for pain due to inflammation and swelling. When the muscle is in pain and stiff, apply heat to it. This will enhance circulation, allow blood to flow, soothe muscles and heal damaged tissue. Alternatively, when the muscles is swollen and in pain, use cold therapy to minimize blood flow, which will reduce inflammation and swelling. If either treatment makes the pain worse, stop and contact a healthcare professional for further instructions.
At Spring Hills Senior Communities, we motivate our seniors to stay active by incorporating daily full-body exercise classes as well as various forms of physical therapy. Our Vice President of Home Care Operations, Andre Gomez, explains, “At Spring Hills, we offer exercise plans that target the muscles in your lower back to promote an independent lifestyle for our seniors. Low- back pain is the single leading cause of disability worldwide, in fact, 31 million Americans experience low-back pain at any given time. This functional impairment can really impact the quality of your life. This is why we use simple to understand exercises that help manage and even alleviate low back pain for our seniors.” Through the active and independent lifestyle we promote, we are able to combat and alleviate pain in the lower back thereby allowing our seniors to enjoy a better overall quality of life.