It’s a warm day in early March. We’re coming up to a full moon. The toads are busy mating in the pond and it’s the time of year when you feel like opening the windows, going through the cupboards and throwing away all the clutter.
I’ve cleaned all the windows, swept the floor and have put a banana loaf in the oven, the smell of which is wafting towards me as I sit at the table with a mug of tea, watching the sunlight dance across the floor and wondering what is next on my to do list.
The door opens and Running Boy comes in, bent over and half-crouching, one hand on his lower back. He lets out an anguished groan, mutters something about a sore back and falls heavily, face down on to the sofa. As I look over at him my eyes wander down to his feet and I notice he still has his shoes on. I wince as my eyes travel further to my cleanly-swept floor that is now covered with a fine layer of sand and soil from outside.
I go over to him and remove his shoes, placing them outside the door, and as I grab the brush he explains to me that he’s pulled his back by rather over-enthusiastically scrubbing the outside decking. It must be mad March fever. Deluded feelings of invincibility and youth.
Grabbing a tube of arnica gel from the bathroom, I fetch my box of essential oils and search out my favourite anti-inflammatories and analgesics, mixing a few drops of each oil into a paste with a couple of tablespoons of the arnica gel and applying it gently to Running Boy’s lower back. He gets to lie on the sofa for a while, drinking tea and eating banana bread while I put the remainder of the arnica and essential oil potion into a little pot for use over the next couple of days.
In a few days’ time when the pain has died down I’ll massage his back, making sure I really work the muscles of his whole back as well as his glutes. Whenever one area has locked up and tightened there is always a knock-on effect with the surrounding muscles. I’ll also point him in the right direction for activating his transversus abdominis, or core muscles, which can be done through small, subtle, focused movement and is neither difficult nor strenuous.
This is usually when I feel like a stuck record, repeating the same information again and again to friends, family and clients alike. If you repeatedly suffer from lower back pain that has been diagnosed as “non-specific back pain”, then there is a huge chance that your core muscles are not activated, therefore not protecting you from injury like they should. There, I’ve said it again!
On the other hand, if you suffer from upper back pain with the same “non-specific” diagnosis then it could be something as simple as a combination of stress and a desk-based job. I have found that this can often be solved by a series of massages combined with some specific yoga stretches.
Running Boy is now fine again. A couple of days discomfort at worst and no need for pain killers. Whether he will keep on with the core strength work is another thing. We shall see…..
If you can relate to anything I’ve written here and also suffer from “non-specific back pain” meaning that you have had yourself checked out and there is no other sinister cause to your pain other than general posture or awkward lifting or bending, then you may find the following links useful:
My top eight essential oils to use for back pain – as I mention above these can be mixed into arnica gel for a soothing topical application. They can also be added to a small amount of carrier oil (10-15ml of sunflower, sweet almond oil or similar) and gently massaged into the affected area.
Yoga stretches for upper back pain and stiffness – this video shows a great, easy to follow sequence of yoga moves to help upper back pain that has been caused by sitting in the same position for too long, using a computer for long stretches of time, or general stress and tightness in the area.
Yoga moves for neck pain and TMJ (temporomandibular joint disorders) – although this is not specifically for the upper back I found that these yoga poses really helped loosen my shoulders and neck which can also be a problem area.
A short video on how to activate your “transversus abdominis” or core muscles. When I say activate I’m really talking about bringing awareness to this muscle group so that you can start to engage them in everyday movement and activities. I don’t believe that they should be singled out and overworked as this will just cause more imbalance.
What about you? Do you suffer from back pain? I’d love you to leave a comment.
Here’s to a happy, pain-free March ♥