The way you move around has a direct impact on your back pain, and you might not know that you could be making things a lot easier for yourself and relieving your pain simply by changing the way you move.
When I was at school, I had an old 70s-80s Parker jacket like the one in the picture. They were very popular; everyone had them. One day I was walking to school with the hood up, as it was raining. When I got to school a classmate said she saw me on my way to school and called me but I didn’t hear. I asked her where she was and she said outside her house. Well, I knew that I didn’t pass her house directly. I would have been at least 80 feet away on the adjacent street when she saw me, and with the long snorkel Parker hood up, how could she have known it was me?
“I could tell it was you because of your walk” she said. “Oh god – I have my own walk?” I thought. And I did. I was always late and have short legs so I walked fast with huge strides for my size.
When I since suffered back pain for nearly two decades, my walk changed. I could no longer walk fast, and I could no longer walk with huge strides. Sometimes the pain was so bad it was barely an old lady shuffle, and I didn’t even realize this until I got my old walk back again!
Once I was fit and well again and almost totally pain-free, I also noticed that my old, usual walk includes bobbing up and down – the way happy, confident people do!
Have you ever noticed? – Miserable people shuffle along, but happy people bob.
The key is firstly to stop fearing the pain. Be confident that you can walk how you want to and move in a fluid way, rather than a cautious, jerky way.
In addition to walking jerkily, many people with back pain are all tensed up when they move around, especially when they are anticipating pain and fearing it.
And when I say tensed up, I don’t mean in an obvious way where all our muscles are clearly flexed. We can still be tensed up without knowing it. Masseurs find tense spots all the time that the client didn’t know was tense.
One way we can test if we are unconsciously tensed up is to check where our shoulders are. If they are not as low as they can be, then you are most likely tensed up. When you lower your shoulders, you normally also relax other parts automatically.
Of course this tip applies to sitting or standing still as well as moving around, but if you move around while tensed up, your pain will be more severe and you will have little chance of relieving your back pain if you make a habit of this.
Have you ever spoken without moving your mouth (usually when you don’t want to be seen speaking)?
I always think that walking chronic pain sufferers are the equivalent of this. They’re so scared they will make their pain worse, they tense up, walk jerkily and ultimitely end up being in more pain.
Keep reminding yourself to lower your shoulders
Move in a fluid way
Do not fear the pain
And hopefully you can walk tall, proud and happily once again.
You might think your back pain is making you miserable, but could your back pain be because you are miserable?
I don’t just mean that your mood affects your pain, although I strongly believe that too. But when we are miserable, we are a lot less likely to see any point to doing anything ourselves to improve our situation. So we do nothing.
I found a USAtoday article today(!) about a survey that says The Older Generation Does It Best; that over 65s are happiest, and I wasn’t surprised to find it was the 45-64 age group that are the least happy people.
The middle-aged group works the hardest; some work up to 12-14 hours a day because they have families. A lot of them have teenagers, who can be both expensive and trying! And a lot of them have chronic pain. The older ones do too, but they have learned more about what is important in life. They have also learned how to be happy, and how to look after their bodies.
A lot of poeple will not take drastic action about their health until they have had some sort of scare or bad news from their doctor, into doing so. The vast majority of us neglect our bodies. We eat the wrong things; we aren’t informed about the correct type or amount of exercise to do regularly. And even if we do know, we still don’t take action because we think we are already too busy.
Most of the responses to the article are from people who seem to think it is because the senior citizens are finacially better off. Why is everyone so obsessed with money? Happiness has NOTHING to do with money. That is one thing I do know. I have had money, and been broke while miserable and also both while being happy, and the two are not at all connected. Your attitude is what makes you happy. Only those who have learned how to be happy will ever believe this (and rich people who are miserable!) I learned how to permanently be happy while I was still £12,000 in debt (around $18,000).
The comments on the article also suggest outside influences are to blame for our happines. YOU are responsible for your health, wealth and happiness. People will always be miserable if they think the government (or whoever) is responsible for their current or future lifestyle.
So what has this got to do with chronic pain or back pain?
No matter what your situation, you can always fit in 10 minutes of exericise, twice a day. I find it so sad when people say they have no time. They also more than likely eat way too many carbs and have poor sleep patterns, so of course they have no energy. If we are more organized we can magically create an extra hour or two every day just by having more energy!
Because when we have good energy levels, we need less rest (vegging out in front of the TV) and we need less sleep!
If you want to improve your situation, no matter what that is, you must start optimizing your health by making these tiny adjustments.
But most importantly, you have to have the right attitude. If you go around saying such phrases as; “knowing my luck” or “sod’s law”, or “murphy’s law” etc. you are telling yourself life is hard before you even give it a chance!
And do you ever allow for life’s contingencies? When you know it takes 25 minutes to drive to work, and yet day after day you leave exactly 25 minutes before you need to be at work. It’s obviously only a matter of time before there will be a holdup and you will be late. Then you’ll be angry with the “idiot” who caused an accident up ahead, or the “moron” who drove too slowly. And you’ll be flustered and angry all morning and your mood will have a domino effect on everyone around you. This leads to stress, etc, etc…
I would also strongly recommend buying the book pictured above. It will not take long to read. It’s is actually designed to look like a kids’ book. And I think that helps a lot. Because let’s face it, busy people are going to be put off simply by the thought of a long, arduous read.
“Mmm, it’s probably a good book…” I hear you say.
But you’re not planning on buying it, are you?
OK, have a look at these reviews and see what you think. Or even look inside the book, as it offers that function too. Yes, some of it is common sense, but most of us are so poor at remembering to do this stuff, it is still worth a lot more than the price of the book just to be reminded of it.
I have read my copy 3 times, and some parts of it more (because I have an abysmal short-term memory). And I got it for £1.50 from a charity shop. What a steal!
Learn to be happy and thankful for the resources you already have, and the rest is easy, I promise.
If you have signed up to my free course, you will know that it is not spine degeneration that causes your back pain, and that there are things you can do to ease your pain, no matter what diagnosis you have been given.
You will also know why back pain sufferers have lots of other types of temporary pain too. While I was out walking the dog this morning, I was reminded of just how easy it is to eliminate these temporary types of pain – within minutes.
The cause must be related to the fear thing because they always used to last all day – or a few days or weeks – when I worried about them, as I did before I realized what was going on.
When you are out walking about, and have pain, such as foot pain or knee pain, you might be tempted to adjust your gait (the way you walk) or adjust how you distribute your weight, in an attempt to ease the pain.
But I’ve found that if you try and just walk normally, and ignore the pain, the pain goes a lot quicker.
I cannot stress that enough. It’s happened time and time again. It can’t be a co-incidence.
In fact, if I’ve not got people around me I actually play a little game; I pretend that I’m somewhere important, and that I can’t appear to be hobbling about; I’ve got to look professional and dignified, and then I walk in an appropriate way, which would be as normally as possible – even though I’m in pain.
And the pain goes. Within minutes. It really does work.
(If I have got people around me, then it’s even easier to pretend I can walk normally).
A few years ago when I had a bad right knee, I adjusted my gait and ended up hurting my right hip and achilles heel as well, and it still didn’t help the knee pain.
Then I realized what to do, and when it returned the following year, I just walked normally, did the gentle exercises I’ve recommended on this blog, and kept my knee warm and the pain disappeared within a few days.
If you allow the pain to take over, you will walk abnormally for a long time; your pain will worsen and your mobility will deteriorate. Try to nip this behavior in the bud now, and maintain your previous level of fitness.
Do you associate a particular activity with back pain? Or other chronic pain?
Perhaps every time you walk, you have pain. Or when you sit or stand.
I found an interesting site by Eddie who does yoga. He has also discovered that the mind is responsible for a lot of your pain and for making it worse. His teacher told him that the mind always wants to make a big drama out of everything.
In another post The Turning Point, he talks about Dr John Sarno’s book Healing Back Pain, and says that after he read the part about associating a particluar activity with pain, he was able to take measures to prevent it happening in the future. The activity that triggered his pain was sitting. He had spent days avoiding sitting! Imagine how hard that must have been.
But the turning point of the title was when he used affirmations and communicated to his unconscious mind the way Sarno suggests, and it worked. He told himself he was well, and had nothing to fear. He reminded himself by putting up notes all over his house!
Now, that is the sort of stuff you should be doing! – Not complaining about the pain and reaffirming to yourself that you are unwell. Remember, the body cannot heal itself when it is under stress. Don’t add to the stress by telling yourself you are in pain and never going to get better.
It is possible to get better, and these change in attitude and behavior are the first step.
A few years ago, I was still battling to control my back pain and although I had found a few things that worked, I still suffered with the pain quite a bit, so when I had the opportunity to go to an evangelist healer’s meeting, I was more than curious and felt I had to go along, if only for the experience. I had heard about the claims from people having been “cured” of various ailments and wondered how it was done. I also felt I had nothing to lose.
Now I’m not very religious and don’t go to church, but I am not one of those annoyingly arrogant atheists who tell innocent people like Deepak Chopra on Twitter that they peddle “tosh”, like SOME people!
(I mean if you are going to have a go at someone, it might as well be someone who is actually hurting others, don’t you think?)
I have an open mind and while I don’t believe a lot of stuff in the bible I respect that Christians and other religions believe in God in order to become better human beings, and that can only be a good thing in my opinion.
But I was aware that in order to go along to this evangelist healing meeting, I was going to have to pretend I was something I was not, and I wasn’t entirely comfortable with that. But I thought “Hey it COULD cure my back pain!”
So I went along, and sang a few hymns, and then queued in a long line of people wanting to be healed. The guy had a microphone and was praising the lord, just like you see on TV. Above the loud music (the whole thing was very LOUD!) he was stating to everyone what condition each person had, and how long they had had it for. He then appeared to bless the person and then quite abruptly push them backward into someone catching them, to stop them falling.
I remember getting quite nervous at that bit, as I thought “What if the guy behind me gets distracted by something and forgets to catch me?”
I got more nervous the nearer I got to the front, especially when the lady a few people in front of me also had a “bad back” and the minister and his helpers rocked her back and forth like she was a rag doll!
I had taken my painkillers that morning, so I wasn’t worried. If they hurt me I’ll just ask them to stop, right?
The evangelist preacher continued to heal the people in the queue; each one claiming their pain was instantly gone. Some people were crying with joy, they were so overwhelmed.
Then it was my turn. The guy told everyone my name, my condition and the length of time I’d had the back pain. “Paula has had back pain for SEVENTEEN YEARS!” he shouted excitedly. He then asked me a couple more questions and then I got the same treatment as the other lady with back pain. And they weren’t gentle either! I felt like one of those 1970s drinking birds! (below).
I tensed up and thought “this is gonna hurt tomorrow” as that’s what I was conditioned to believe, so I asked them to stop, and they did and he said I should go and sit down.
“It’s not for everyone” he said and quickly moved on to the next person without shouting the outcome for all to hear.
So I wasn’t healed, but then I didn’t give him a chance did I? I got scared and gave up. The rocking back and forth did not hurt my back though. Not then, nor the next day.
But I did learn what I believed to be a valuable lesson. One of the questions he asked me before he started “healing” me, was; “Do you believe this is going to work?”
I have to be honest. The true answer was “I don’t know” or “No, not really”. But what I said was “Yes!” as I reckoned that was the correct answer in his mind. He nodded to the others and they continued to do the old drinking bird routine on me while shouting stuff I don’t remember.
So there was my answer: You have to believe it’s going to work, or you have no chance of it doing so. Now some people reading this will think that’s a load of rubbish, but don’t under-estimate the power of the mind.
I once knew an elderly couple who were driving down the motorway (freeway) at night and saw an accident on the opposite side. The man who was driving was partially disabled and could hardly walk without severe pain, but when he saw a car plough into the back of a huge stationary truck, and saw that there were no other cars about to report the accident, he stopped his car and ran – yes, RAN – across the lanes, and jumped over the central divide to get to the victims.
I heard this story from his wife, and she said if he was claiming disability money (which he wasn’t) the authorities would be convinced he was on the fiddle if they had seen him in action on that night. Yet she knew how much he suffered every day. But the body and brain behave very differently in life and death situations. For a start, he would have been filled with adrenalin, which is an amazing pain killer. And he was on a mission to help the injured people. The last thing on his mind was his own problems.
I have heard of many similar situations where extraordinary circumstances enable us to do things we never thought we could.
My mother adopted me because she thought she couldn’t conceive. It took nearly two years to adopt me, but three months after I was adopted, guess who got pregnant? And when I tell people this, they always say that this is a common phenomenon. The same happens to men who have been told they’re unlikely to father a child, then they get a less stressful job – and Bingo!
I met a woman who read a book stating that human childbirth is done totally wrong; that we should all squat to give birth like apes do, then we would have little to no pain. She totally embraced this idea and had zero painkillers for her next child’s birth which was a great pain-free success.
In the last two examples the pressure was off, so the person was able to relax. Perhaps our bodies can only truly behave correctly (be healthy) when we are totally relaxed.
And then there’s hypnosis. Few would deny the existence of hypnosis, and how amazing things can be achieved by deceiving or manipulating the mind, and yet plenty of people still cannot accept that the mind can achieve some pretty amazing things on its own.
Now I don’t want to reject the idea that Jesus or God healed those people around me that day. But my personal belief is that they healed themselves, simply by believing they would be healed. And if so, then I guess it doesn’t matter who or what was responsible. Those people became pain free, or healed.
Even if you can’t fully believe the concept, maybe this post will help you have a more open mind. Go on – have faith!
Do you know of a story where extraordinary circumstances or faith has enabled someone to do something they didn’t think they could?
The best chronic back pain treatment from a fellow former sufferer