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.