The holiday season offers opportunities to improve your health; but it can also intensify feelings of frustration and despair that come from dealing with chronic back pain.
Read: Diagnosis of Depression and Chronic Back Pain
We can't promise a stress-free holiday season, but here are 4 helpful tips on how to handle this time of year when you're suffering from back pain.
1. Use time off to start an exercise routine
A controlled, gradual, and progressive exercise program can help heal and strengthen the various structures in your spine. So to help with your pain, consider dedicating a full vacation day over the holidays to improving your physical conditioning.
If you are new to exercising, you can spend the day with a physical therapist; who can customize a program to meet your unique needs. She or he may introduce you to exercises you have not considered, like water therapy, Swiss ball exercises, or beginners yoga.
Be mindful that sometimes it is necessary to visit more than one physical therapist to find the help you need.
2. Research your condition
Without the pressures of work, you finally have some time to properly research your back condition. So curl up (or recline) with a good book on back pain, or dig into our trustworthy resources. This research may help you better understand your condition, and also reveal new treatments to help relieve your pain.
For example, did you know that:
- Using a tennis ball for a do-it-yourself massage can reduce trigger points and muscle tension?
- Applying a low-level heat wrap can be as effective at reducing lower back pain as medications?
Another idea is to schedule an appointment with a specialist in your condition to discuss all of the available treatment options.
3. Spend time with a friend
One aspect of chronic back pain that often is not discussed is how isolating it can be. Your pain may make physical activity difficult, so after work and other daily responsibilities you may not have the energy to visit with friends.
If you have free time over the holiday season, set aside a few hours to reconnect with a friend. This won't solve all of your back-related problems, but the empathy and understanding of a friend can go a long way towards helping you better cope with your condition.
4. Focus on nutrition to help your back
Let's face it, most of us don't follow a very healthy diet. We might have been able to get away with this in high school, but now the extra weight you carry may be contributing to your back pain. For example, excess weight in the midsection can pull your pelvis forward, which leads to additional stress on your lower back.
Balanced nutrition includes adequate protein as a source of the building blocks of soft tissue healing. Additionally, plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables are necessary to supply the vitamins and trace elements necessary for effective healing.
Pain can be especially hard to deal with over the holiday season, so please take time to get a better handle on your back condition. Using this list, you can take at least one or two tangible, positive steps toward finding relief from your pain.