Bending Over Backwards
Combat Workday Pain Naturally
By Spencer Sutherland
May 9, 2009
A nagging backache, headache or simply feeling unwell at the office will make it difficult to concentrate on even the most simplest of tasks. If you are struggling with persistent pain at the workplace, there are several ways you can reduce or even prevent pain without turning to addictive pain medication.
Minding Your Back
“Back pain is second only to the common cold as the most common ailment seen by primary care physicians,” says Intermountain Rehabilitation Agency Manager Stephen J. Hunter. What causes back pain? Apparently, everything.
“Standing, sitting, walking, driving, bending and lifting all stress the back to some degree,” Hunter says, adding that the best way to avoid back problems is to implement better body mechanics—proper lifting techniques, good posture when sitting and sleeping on a firm bed. Though doctors can treat serious conditions, minor back pain can often be relieved at home. The first tip is to keep moving, since inactivity and bed rest often do more harm than good. When you do rest, lie on your back with your hips and knees bent, with a pillow under your knees.
The Rub Down
“For many people, pain starts with stress, whether it’s physical, emotional or both,” says massage therapist Tim Gill. “When you are stressed, your body tends to compensate—your neck tightens, your head hurts, etc.”
When left untreated, the effects of stress multiply, Gill explains. Tight muscles restrict blood flow. When blood flow is compromised, the body is unable to move waste and metabolic byproducts out of the muscle tissue. “The beauty of massage is that it addresses the mental, emotional and physical pain. And it does so in a non-invasive, non-chemical way,” Gill says.
According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control, adults need 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity and two days of muscle-strengthening activity each week. The first step is proper stretching. Taking 10 minutes to warm up your body can have a myriad of benefits, including decreased soreness after exercise and improved circulation and posture.
Food for Thought
The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that 92 percent of Americans do not receive sufficient nutrients from the foods they eat. People are relying on dietary supplements more to fill the nutritional gaps in their diets. Flax seed supplements, in liquid or powder form, is one nutritional supplement offering natural joint pain relief. Multivitamin supplements Glucosamine MSM and Omega 3 also provide natural pain relief.
On Pins and Needles
Those suffering from chronic pain can also turn to acupuncture. The Western version of the ancient Chinese treatment is intended to release endorphins and opioids, the body’s natural painkillers. The Pain Management Center at the Medical College of Wisconsin has successfully used acupuncture to treat fibromyalgia, chronic headaches, neck pain, knee and hip pain.
Leave it to the Professionals
When pain starts nagging you, it’s best to consult a professional. If you experience sudden severe pain, severe pain that gets worse over several weeks, worsening numbness or weakness in your legs or fever, call a doctor immediately.