I remember it like it was yesterday – driving to drop my daughter off for her first year of college.
And as you can imagine, it was a very emotional day. Both my wife and I were extremely proud of her, and she was ready to begin this next chapter of her life…
Complete with all her things from home… that had to be moved by yours truly into her cramped dorm room.
Of course, I didn’t mind, and after all the work was done, we went out for a memorable pizza to celebrate the occasion. And I can even remember the toppings – ham, pineapple, and jalapenos – my daughter’s favorite.
You know what else I remember like it was yesterday?
The horrendous BACK PAIN that showed up the very next day.
And while the moving certainly didn’t help, I realized that the truth was that I hadn’t been taking care of my back for years – even lifting a few boxes was enough to trigger the kind of back pain that takes weeks or even months to recover.
Needless to say, I’m much more careful about my back now than then.
Yet I still see people on a regular basis that are facing debilitating pain because they’re not taking care of their back…
That’s why I’m writing today – to show you a few things you might not realize you’re doing that could be setting you up for immense back pain. And I’ll show you how to correct them before your own personal back pain trigger happens.
Problem #1: Traveling Like A Dead Weight
You might think you’re the exception, but the vast majority of people don’t know how to travel well. Whether it’s just your daily commute to and from work or taking a flight to somewhere more exotic, you need to pay more attention to your back while traveling.
For most of us (and I’m just as guilty as the next person), we’re so concerned about getting from point A to point B that we completely ignore our back during the journey.
Here’s an example – I drive about 35 minutes from my home to work every morning and the same time on the way back (assuming traffic is decent). During that time, I rarely stop, meaning my back stays in exactly the same position.
Now, 35 minutes might not be much, but what if you were driving for 2-3 hours? Do you stop to break it up or do you just push through to get to your destination quicker?
What about a 3-4 hour flight? Do you get up and move or do you just sit there like a rock?
And let me guess – your baggage weighs more than you do, right?
Most of us would rather just stay in the same position, but that puts a huge amount of pressure on your back and over time, that pressure can build up, resulting in serious pain.
Here’s my answer for travel-related back pain…
My Back-Safe Travel Solution
What I do is set an easy to remember rule – one hour on, at least 10 minutes off.
That means that if I’ve been driving an hour, I force myself to stop for a 10 minute break to get out of the car and walk around.
Of course, I don’t get where I’m going as quickly as I could, but I do arrive in a better, more refreshed state, and I’m confident that I won’t lose the entire next day to back pain. Which makes a big deal for long trips, like going to visit my daughter at college.
And the same is true for a flight – after every hour, I stand up, walk around the cabin, and even do some light stretching.
This simple rule ensures that I’m not letting my body get stuck in the same position for too long. The only difficult part is remembering to do it – I usually set a timer on my phone anytime I’m starting out on a long drive or a flight.
Problem #2: Stress – It’s NOT All in Your Head
Did you ever wonder why after a particularly stressful day, it’s not just your mood that suffers but also your body?
You’ve had a tough day at work and when you get home, all you want to do is slink down into the couch or climb into bed.
Well, I’ve got some news for you – stress may start from mental and emotional sources, but it almost always has a physical manifestation. Just think about it – when you’re stressed or anxious, your muscles physically tense up.
That’s because the systems in our bodies don’t just work on their own – they’re connected in more ways than you can imagine… and stress from one system will affect all the others.
When that stress is accumulated not just for a single day but for weeks and years, well, you can bet that when your back pain strikes, it will mirror the intensity and duration of your stress.
And it probably won’t give any signs that it’s about to happen – maybe it’ll come when you’re lifting a box, reaching up to change a light bulb, or simply bending over to tie your shoes.
There’s no way to know when, but there won’t be any mistaking the pain when it gets here!
My Solution for Stressful Lives
Now, I know that you probably live a high-stress lifestyle (heck, most of us do these days), but there are things you can do to handle your stress better and get rid of stress-related back pain.
Some doctors recommend relaxing hobbies, yoga, or other activities, but my personal favorite is just breathing.
Sounds kind of silly, right?
Well, you could add in some mental stress-relieving techniques and call it meditation, but it’s the breathing that I find most important.
What I mean by “just breathing” is to take the time to be mindful of your breathing, from taking long, deep breaths in through the nose to slowly exhaling as much air as possible out of your mouth.
And it definitely works for me… AND for many other people in my life.
Nearly all of my friends have excessive stress and “just breathing” at the end of each day is a great way to let the day’s stress dissipate before locking your muscles and body into a fitful sleep.
Even if you don’t enjoy this breathing exercise, I strongly recommend that you find a way to vent your stress on a daily basis and stop bottling it all up.
The studies have shown clearly that there’s a connection between stress and back pain and it’s almost certain that the former will eventually lead to the latter if it hasn’t already.
How to Respond to Back Pain
Most people reach for an OTC pain relief pill, but there are plenty of natural options that don’t have any of the side effects AND also have a number of other health benefits.
Here’s to stress-free nights, easy travel, and ZERO back pain!