Keeping Your back Healthy

Chances are good that, at some point in your life, you will have back pain. In fact, 70-85 percent of Americans will experience back pain at some point in their lives. But even with those odds, there are still several ways to minimize your risk and give yourself the best chance to live pain-free.

Several factors can cause back pain, including stress, poor posture, bad ergonomics, lack of exercise, arthritis, osteoporosis, a sedentary lifestyle, overexertion, pregnancy, kidney stones, fibromyalgia, excess weight, and more.

With all of these potential causes lurking, it’s important to look at behaviors that can help you prevent and avoid back pain before it starts. Here are a few simple healthy back tips from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke:

  • Stretch and warm tissues before exercise or other strenuous activities.
  • Practice good posture. Avoid slouching when sitting or standing.
  • When standing, keep your weight balanced on both feet.
  • Follow good ergonomics in the workplace. When sitting for long periods of time, rest your feet on a foot support. Make sure your chair and work surfaces are at the proper height. Get up and move around in between long sitting stints.
  • Avoid high-heeled shoes.
  • Watch your weight. Excess weight, especially around the waist, can put undue stress on lower back muscles.
  • Exercise. Core strengthening moves, especially, will also benefit your back.
  • Don’t lift items that are heavier than you can handle. Remember to lift with your knees, not your back. Pull in your stomach muscles, keep your head down and in line with your straight back, and do not twist when lifting.
  • Get a massage. Using therapeutic bodywork can melt pain-inducing stress away from your back and the rest of your body.

On The Rocks

Hot Stone Massage Provides Tension Relief and Grounding. 

It’s a practice as old as time, but one that has been recently rediscovered. Hot stone massage is the updated version of a technique employed by Native Americans, using gently warmed rocks to massage the body. The technique provides a deeply relaxing, healing, detoxifying, and, some say, spiritual experience.

Typically, the stones are smooth, black rounds of basalt in varying sizes heated in water to temperatures between 125 and 140 degrees. Warm stones encourage the exchange of blood and lymph and provide soothing heat for deep-tissue work. Cold stones are also used to aide with inflammation, moving blood out of the area, and balancing male/female energies. The alternating heat and cold of thermotherapy brings the entire body into the healing process, with a rapid exchange of blood and oxygen and alternating rise and fall of respiration rate as the body seeks homeostasis.

During treatment hot stones are placed on energy pathways. Some are covered with a towel and positioned to apply steady warmth and pressure along the spine and neck. Others are placed between fingers and toes and on the stomach and forehead — key spots where energy flow can get blocked. Still others are used almost as an extension of the practitioner’s hands to help go deeper into resistant muscle tissue. This requires less effort from the practitioner’s own body and delivers healing warmth to the hands, benefitting the therapist, as well as the client.

 

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