Last week, I arrived at my mother-in-law’s home to find her on the sofa. When she got up, she was moving carefully and holding her lower back. She said she felt the pain when she bent over to pick up a dropped towel and it had been hurting for a few hours, so she’d decided to spend that time lying down.
I’m sure you can relate.
The thing is, after about 20-minutes of showing me around—I’d come over to move some furniture—she declared the pain was going away. Was it magic? I wish. The reality is that most of the time, movement is the best thing for a sore back.
Back pain is one of the most common—and confusing—medical ailments in America. What makes it so confusing is that it often occurs out of nowhere and is rarely the result of an acute injury. It’s one thing if you hurt your back in an accident, yet it’s quite another if it hits when you lean to spit in the sink. Up to 80 percent of American adults report back pain at one time or another, yet 20 percent never do. And all of them experience roughly the same amount of degeneration in the region.
Without an acute injury, the cause of back pain can be hard to pinpoint. It can be stress-related, inflammation, or degeneration. But staying off your feet won’t help. If you’re not healing an injury, the best medicine for back pain may be movement. There are a couple of reasons why.
For one, movement loosens up the area, increases circulation, relieves stress, and activates the muscles in the area. Sitting encourages tightness, limits blood flow, and puts added stress on the lower back. It can also cause muscles to atrophy.
Another reason why movement may work is that back pain requires a neurological healing process, not a physical one. Exercise and movement may help your nervous system adjust to a potential trigger, thereby providing natural relief for the pain.
To keep your back feeling well, try to get some activity each day. If pain does strike, attempt to walk it off and keep up with your daily activities. Of course, if the pain is severe or the result of an injury, it’s important to call your doctor.
Mohan Garikiparithi holds a degree in medicine from Osmania University (University of Health Sciences). He practiced clinical medicine for over a decade. During a three-year communications program in Germany, he developed an interest in German medicine (homeopathy) and other alternative systems of medicine. This article was originally published on Bel Marra Health.