This past weekend I thought I had a catch in my neck. You know, the kind of catch caused by sleeping wrong on your pillow after staying up past your bedtime to binge watch reruns of Friends on Netflix. As the day went on the catch got worse. By the time I made it back to my apartment and sat down, I couldn’t get up. I was completely immobile. I got ahold of some friends who came over with an ice pack and physically had to lift me out of bed. It took two of them to lift my upper body and hold me upright whilst I sat there embarrassed and sobbing. (It was not a pretty site. Thanks again guys.)
Luckily, and unfortunately, this has happened to me before. I’ve suffered with back pain and pinched nerves ever since a trampoline backflip mishap circa 2006. Me being the “green” gal that I am, I’m not the biggest fan of taking medicine, although I understand when it’s needed. This was a time it was needed.
I took the medicine for a few days and then started to realize, thanks to some research, trial and error, and calls to my mother, that there are plenty of ways to relieve and prevent back pain without taking medicine at all.
1. Yoga and Stretching
Yoga isn’t for everyone, but stretching is. Doing full body stretches throughout the day can help to prevent back and neck strains. Embarrassed to do stretches at work? Head to the bathroom and take about five minutes reaching all the way up, over to the sides and down to your toes. It seriously helps! Plus, stretching stimulates blood flow meaning better focus and less coffee breaks.
I never understood why my mother kept telling me to take in fluids all weekend, but when I started listening I understood why. Staying hydrated keeps your joints lubricated, which really helps when dealing with joint pain. Try drinking plenty of water, coconut water and herbal teas. Be careful not to over hydrate though!
Now this is the last thing anyone wants to do when they’re in pain, but exercise is one of the best medicines. This is no excuse to head to the gym when you’re in pain, or even to go for a jog, but try walking around your block. Walking takes the pressure off of your neck and back and allows your joints to stretch and move. If you’re stuck at work, take a break to walk around the office. Sitting in a chair can cause back pain by itself.
4. Up your calcium intake
This may not help relieve pain directly, but it’s a preventative measure worth taking. Try eating a slice of hard-cold cheese per day. Hard-cold cheeses can contain hundreds of milligrams of calcium in one piece. Don’t do dairy? There are plenty of calcium rich foods that are lactose and dairy free: kale, soybeans, oatmeal, almonds and turnip greens are all great sources of calcium.
Well…I didn’t actually have ice, but I used frozen peas and corn instead. Not only did this help with the pain, but it felt great on those 90 degree days. Applying ice calms your muscles without allowing them to swell, like heat will do. If necessary, wait until your muscles are no longer spasming or swollen to apply any heat.
If you’re suffering with back pain try these tips first before rushing straight to the pharmacy. Let us know of what you do to relieve back and neck pain!