Chronic pain is problematic on two levels. Pain is challenging because it steals your joy in life and interrupts daily activities. Chronic conditions are challenging because they steal your mental focus and make it nearly impossible to do any long-range planning.
Lie Comfortably Flat
To start your day, try to block out ten minutes after your alarm goes off to align your body as flat as possible. This may mean putting a pillow behind your knees for low back pain or crossing your arms over your chest to gently stretch against upper back pain. In this position, try listening to some energizing music to get your body and brain moving forward.
Avoid sudden, jerky movements, particularly if you struggle with muscle spasms. The best chiropractor in Houston knows that achieving spinal health and proper alignment is a long process. You may be frustrated with your pain at points and move angrily, but these jolts can make your condition worse over time.
Walk as Much as Possible
Try to take a walk early in the day, either outdoors or in a pool. If you struggle with low back pain, avoid the treadmill as a tug on your heel could lead to more inflammation of tissue in the low back.
As you walk, think about your alignment. Pay attention to how your heel strikes the surface and how your weight rolls down the length of your foot. Focus on your hips and draw your tummy in tight to support your lower back. Keep your stride as even as possible, but try to stretch it out as your leg muscles warm up.
At the end of your walk, draw your foot up behind you and grasp it with your foot to stretch your quads. Tight muscles on the front of your thighs can cause a lot of problems in your pelvis, which can tug on the low back.
When stretching, think of your body as a system of levers. To stretch your pelvis, widen your stance and lean into each hip slowly until you feel the stretch. To stretch your low back, maintain that widened stance, and, with your shoulders square and your head up, lean forward until you feel your hamstrings supporting your upper body. Place your hands along the crease of your hips to feel the proper fold.
For the upper back, put your fingertips on your shoulders with your elbows out front and lower your chin slowly until you feel the stretch. Bring your head back to center and gently pull your right elbow across your body with your left hand, then reverse.
Never bounce your head around in a rotating 360 neck stretch. Your skull is heavy and the pressure on your spine will be excessive. Instead, lower your chin and come back to center, then tilt left and return, tilt right and return, and tilt back, letting your jaw go slack before you return.
Crunches can be very difficult if you have chronic back pain, but there are core exercises you can do from a standing position. A simple set of ten wall push-ups each time you stand up from your chair will help you to draw in those tummy muscles and support your low back.
As noted in the introduction, the “chronic” part of chronic pain is corrosive and frustrating. If you’ve ever been reading a great book and been shocked at how much time has passed, you know what a joy it can be to lose a bit of time in a fun activity. Those who suffer from chronic pain don’t often get to experience that joy; there is always that grinding distraction caused by the pain.
For many, a meditation practice can soothe the part of the brain that reads the nerve endings that are screaming “pain”. By visualizing the area of pain and creating an image of an action that can remove the pain, many sufferers gain not only a lower level of pain but a sense of control over the discomfort.
To meditate on your own, light a candle to focus on, and find a quiet spot. Get in a chair that you can comfortably get out of at the end of the session, or stand if you need to. Set a timer to allow your mind to focus as fully as possible on the flame. Simply breathe, look at the fire, and send away thoughts that crop up. Look for a guided meditation instructor to help you focus on ways to relieve your pain.