“Oh my aching back!”
When I was younger I used to say that when I was joking around and trying to get out of doing the yard work or something. hahaha!
Now that I’m older and my body has had some wear and tear put on it, it’s no longer a joking matter.
If you suffer from any kind of back pain; neck, shoulders, upper, mid, or lower back pain, I can guarantee you that the 3 things I’m going to talk about in this post can help alleviate some of your pain.
And the kicker is that these things are so easy to do it would be criminal not to try them!
#1 Do 5 minutes of yoga stretches every single day.
#2 Strengthen core and back muscles with easy daily abdominal workouts and weight bearing exercises.
#3 Lose any extra weight in your mid-section – eat healthy!
Let me give you a little background on what kind of trauma my back has been through just to show you how effective these three simple things can be.
I’ve been in 2 major car accidents both causing extreme trauma to my neck and back.
The first accident was when I was 16 years old.
I fell asleep driving and crashed into a very large tree. My bad!!!
I woke up in the hospital.
The next day I found out I had a broken upper jaw.
The small Cadillac Cimarron I was driving had no airbag.
My head had slammed into the steering wheel bending it completely backwards with the top of my skull cracking the windshield.
You can imagine the trauma to my neck and back from this accident.
Thankfully I was young, athletic, and practiced yoga regularly so the pain didn’t catch up with me for quite a few years.
Then came the babies. (all five of them!)
With each pregnancy the back pain became more and more prevalent.
It wasn’t just the pregnancies that put tremendous strain on my back, it was also carrying the babies around on my hips and the 20 pound diaper bags!
It wasn’t long before I was in pain almost daily.
But that wasn’t all.
There was the second car accident.
During the sixth month of my fourth pregnancy, a car ran through an intersection and T-boned my car directly on the driver’s side.
I was the driver.
Bam! My head slammed into the driver’s side door window whipping my neck way beyond its normal capacity.
Talk about whiplash!
Thankfully I had still been working out and doing yoga throughout my pregnancy (in fact I had done a yoga class at the gym that very morning) which helped but it just wasn’t enough.
The doctors prescribed pain killers and muscle relaxers.
I went to physical therapy. Got massages and frequented chiropractors.
All these medical treatments served different purposes and helped in different ways but no matter what eventually I would find myself moaning and groaning about back pain.
So basically for the past 20 some odd years I’ve been dealing with chronic back pain.
But there is some good news.
When I do yoga regularly, I forget I have back and neck problems.
As I’ve continued my practice of yoga and other simple exercises, I’ve found consistent relief.
Most times instantaneous relief!
Here are my go-to super easy ways to manage my back pain and I know it will work for you too:
#1 Just 5 Minutes of Daily Yoga Stretches!
I’ve talked about this in previous posts. You will hear me talk about yoga frequently. Yoga is amazing!
Each night before you go to bed, spend at least 5 minutes stretching on a yoga mat (or blanket, floor, etc).
Here are my favorite poses that I do specifically for the neck and back pain:
Cat stretch (breathe deeply; don’t rush the stretch)
Cow stretch (again breathe and don’t rush)
Half lord of the fishes gentle side twists
(lay for about 1 minute on each side;
head twisting opposite direction body is twisting)
(this pose is advanced
so move into and out of it carefully)
Take your time with each pose.
Listen to your body. If it hurts, don’t do it.
Take deeps breaths.
If you’re not familiar with yoga, the internet is full of resources to learn about it. YouTube it!
Take some time and research poses that would work best for you.
It will totally be worth the time and effort!
You don’t have to do all of these just pick a couple of your favorites to do each night.
I do a couple of these poses until my back feels nice and loose.
I know if I go to bed without loosening up my back I won’t get a good night’s sleep.
Even my hair stylists knows when I’m doing my yoga and when I’m not.
When she leans my neck back into the sink to wash my hair it can really hurt.
There have been times I can’t lean backwards, then there are other times when my head can hang backwards in the sink for hours. That’s when I’m being consistent with my yoga stretches.
This is just one example of how I can tell the difference when I’m doing yoga and not doing yoga.
So as you can see time spent doing simple yoga stretches is crucial to neck and back pain management.
Even just 5 minutes a day can work wonders!
#2 Strengthen your core and use weights!
(I look so serious. I’m probably thinking hurry take the pic before I drop these weights. lol!)
Weight bearing exercise is so important!
And it’s easier than you may think.
I have a pair of 8 pound weights at home and when my neck/upper back feels tight I will do a quick 5 minute arm/back workout and it feels soooo good.
And for your core!
I don’t want to hear any excuses.
You can strengthen your core with or without any type of equipment.
Do some plank and abdominal exercises.
Just 1 minute of plank or 25 sit-ups a day can make a HUGE difference.
The stronger your core, the more support provided for your back muscles.
Weight bearing abdominal exercises are also very effective. You can use free weights or machines.
Squats are another great exercise to strengthen your core. With the added bonus of a free butt-lift! 🙂
#3 Lose any extra weight in your mid-section.
Even if you lose 5 pounds it’s going to make a difference!
If you don’t believe me, strap a 5 pound weight on your stomach and walk around with it a little.
Instead of supporting your back as abdominal muscles are meant to do, extra weight puts extra strain on your back.
Of course the easiest way to shed those extra pounds around the mid-section is with healthy eating.
Cardio is always a good idea too!
Like I said in my last post about goals, I’m using you all for my accountability partners and I know I need to do all of these things too.
In the summer of 2015 (just a year and a half ago) I was pretty much at my ideal weight and feeling strong.
Here I am checking out the terrible sunburn I got on vacay when I put sunscreen on the entire family then flopped down in my lounge chair and forgot to put it on me. (Note to self, follow airline protocol; spray self first, then everyone else). Not a very well composed pic, but you get the idea right?
Flash forward to today and I can guarantee you I am 10-15 pounds heavier than I am in this pic and not feeling strong.
I am also experiencing more neck and back pain now than I was then. Now that’s motivation to workout if I’ve ever had any!
I’ve never been one to put much importance on what the scale says, but I know when my body feels good and when it doesn’t.
And as the scale creeps up, my body starts feeling it. (and not in a good way)
This month in preparation for beginning my personal training sessions at the gym again in March, I’m focusing on these three super easy tips for getting myself pain free, limber, and trimmed up again.
I also don’t want to be crazy sore after my first several workouts so I think it’s time to put aside the holiday and birthday celebrating and get my yoga game back on!
These are tips that have worked really really well for me. But, if you have any serious health concerns, you should always seek professional advice before making drastic diet and exercise changes in your routine.
I’ve learned that with pain management, massages, heating pads, and passive things are nice and feel good momentarily, but nothing compares to working your own muscles and using the healing power that’s already within you.
And last but not least, for an all over neck AND back stretch, let gravity do the work.
Just hang loose!
If you have any easy back pain management tips for us all, we would love to hear them. I’m always looking for new tips. Leave them in the comments section please!!
Stay HiP friends!