Have you suffered from back or neck pain? Has it stopped you from living your life? According to CDC report 8 in 10 Americans will experience back pain. That's a majority. And the numbers increase as we age.
Recent recommendations from American College of Physicians promote alternative therapies for pain treatment. Acupuncture, Chinese Medicine, Massage Exercise and Chiropractic offer lasting pain relief.
I've suffered from both low back and neck pain since childhood due to scoliosis. When I started as an esthetician I'd walk out the door bent over, feeling old and decrepit at 27. I yearned for a pain-free workday. Alternative therapies brought me upright and gave me back a healthier, active life.
Here are the 5 treatments I've used:
Abdominal exercise & stretching
At home care - epsom salt baths, self massage, anti-inflammatories
A "custom made" bed.
I ended the day in pain and woke up aching. My parents chiropractor identified the scoliosis and recommend acupuncture. Being new to acupuncture I was skeptical. Long needles sat in my skin while bells or mellow music played.
After the first session I felt better. It continued to improve. I walked upright. Went to sleep without pain. Woke with a bounce in my step. Hallelujah. The next step was exercise. Pilates was the recommended option.
Abdominal exercise and stretching
"Roll like a ball" was the command as I held my legs to my chest and tucked in my chin. "You've gotta be kidding". I rolled . . . like a stone. Onto my back and stuck there. Years later I would joke about this with my Pilates coach as I glided back and forth like a human ball. It took months to strengthen my abdominal muscles. And when I did, it improved my balance, flexibility and took the strain off of my back.
Working with a coach was a great step. Doing daily stretches is even better. The former improved my muscle strength, the latter improved my flexibility. I stretch when I wake every morning and between clients. Keeps me limber and pain-free.
Yoga is also recommended. I tried it for a year. My flexiblity improved but I also injured myself. And I still gripe about it. If you're starting out I recommend Restorative Yoga. Instead of forcing yourself into poses it uses pillows and blankets to help you get into the pose. And then you hold that pose and relax into it.
Body massage increases circulation and warmth into your muscles, improves lymphatic drainage. This helps your body heal. The different styles or modalities of massage offer extra benefits.
Classic or Swedish Massage - The best known style of massage. It uses 5 basic strokes, increases circulation and improves joint function.
Deep tissue - breaks up the knots in the muscles. It works the deeper tissue that a swedish massage does not get into.
Hot stone or salt stone massage - focused heat increases specific area circulation. Also can get deeper penetration of massage benefits.
Stretching - passive stretching helps your body release tension. I've offered a passive neck stretch during my facials for years. It's very popular and I can feel the muscles in the neck relax.
MFR (MyoFascialRelease) - Fascia is a connective tissue webbing that covers & supports your entire body. MFR releases tight fascia to improve range of motion and decrease pain.
Daily self-care is the best way live a productive life and have a pain - free work day. Self care increases and continues the benefits of Acupuncture, Exercise and Massage.
Epsom Salt Baths
I recommended an epsom salt bath to my hubby when he had an arthritic pain flare-up. He looked skeptical when I explained it reduced swelling and pain. But I couldn't explain how. When his doctor said THE EXACT SAME THING I felt vindicated as he finally took an epsom salt bath. Yes, he felt better afterwards.
Stretches and Self Massage
Every morning I stretch my legs, back and upper body as I sit by the side of my bed. I repeat it during the day between clients. It keeps me flexible, prevents stiffness that leads to pain.
I learned how to do my own self massage from our massage therapists. Using a firm tennis ball or pinky ball or a foam roller helps work out stiff muscles. One tip from MFR is to place the pinky ball under a pained muscle, lay or lean against it and rest for 3 minutes. Three minutes is the trick. It takes that long for the tight muscle to relax and start to release. I created a self-massage how-to video, take a look: "Self-care Massage in 3 Easy Steps".
When I'm in severe pain an anti-inflammatory is essential to a good nights sleep. I rarely take my Doctor recommeneded non-steroidal anti-inflammatory pills. When I do, I've discovered it works better with my stretches, self massage and warm epsom salt bath.
Oriental medicine offers excellent options for pain relief. Recommendations for specific forms of calcium have work well. Herbs or whole food nutrition options are also available. Ask your Oriental Medicine Doctor for specific recommendation for you and your body.
"Custom made" bed
When we were testing out our spa beds I loved how they lifted up the knees and put my body in S shape. Relaxing. Took the strain off my back and neck. I recreated this S shape in my own bed.
I didnt buy an expensive bed. I used two pillows t o create a retreat for my body. A big, firm body pillow under my knees. A curved pillow under my neck. And an mattress heater pad. Thats it.
This combo cradles my neck, takes the stress off my back and warms my stiff, aching muscles. So when I'm in pain my bed beckons.
After 20 years in the beauty business these are the steps that have kept my body strong and relieved pain. Tuscany Spa offers Acupuncture, Chinese Medicine, Massage therapy and MFR body treatment. Our team of specialist will help you treat your back and neck pain, so you can have pain free work days again.