Suffering from back pain that never seems to let up? You’re not alone.
Back pain affects eight in 10 people at some point in their lives, and it can last just a few days or weeks (as is the case with acute pain) or months or years (as is the case with chronic pain).
While it’s important to work with your doctor to determine the cause and appropriate treatments for your pain (especially if it’s inhibiting your range of motion or is severe and debilitating), there are some lifestyle adjustments that could help alleviate the hurt — many of which have to do with decreasing inflammation in the body, says Robin Berzin, MD, founder of the functional medicine practice Parsley Health.
“Inflammation causes pain because it triggers a cascade of chemical messengers in the body that, in the short term, can cause swelling and itching as immune cells respond and migrate to the area, and that in the long run, lead to the sensitization of nerve fibers in the muscles,” Berzin says.
Fortunately, there are things you can do in your day-to-day life that can help alleviate inflammation. Berzin advises consuming magnesium and curcumin, which are available in supplement form or through food. “For magnesium, think avocados, almonds, and pumpkin seeds, and for curcumin, think of the spice turmeric,” Berzin says.
Stretching can also help. One of Berzin’s favorites involves opening up the bottoms of the feet (which can get tight from our shoes and the way we walk), thereby opening the connective tissue of the legs and back. How to do it:
- Kneel on the ground.
- Tuck your toes, making sure to spread them out at the same time so that even your pinkie toes are tucked.
- Sit back on your heels.
- Sit upright and breathe deeply for at least 2 minutes.