Tips for Healing Muscle, Joint & Back Pain
Of all your body's vital systems, the musculoskeletal system is one that you depend on greatly to perform even the most basic functions every single day.
Your musculoskeletal system is made up of your muscles, bones, cartilage, joints, ligaments and tendons which support and bind the tissues and vital organs of your body.
When these components are healthy and nourished, your physical body feels good. On the other hand, if any of these parts become weak or inflamed, it usually shows up as niggling or even debilitating pain in the muscles, joints or back.
Your musculoskeletal system is designed to support stability, strength and movement. Your body relies on this vital system for the most menial tasks, like getting out of bed, driving a car and gardening, to more vigorous activities like exercise.
A certain amount of degeneration of the bones, joints and muscles can occur over time and distance, however by following some basic practices, you can keep your body supple, agile and strong and greatly reduce the risk of musculoskeletal diseases like chronic back pain, arthritis, osteoporosis and more.
What Causes Muscular Pain?
Innocuous muscular conditions like cramps, are typically caused from muscular fatigue, inadequate stretching and dehydration from a lack of salt and minerals (electrolytes) in the blood stream.
There's good and bad muscle pain and it's important to understand the difference.
Muscular pain resulting from quality exercise, is typically a 'good' pain that is your body's natural process of repairing broken muscle tissue to make it stronger and more flexible.
Provided that you don't over do it, rehydrate adequately, eat enough salt to replace the depleted minerals and fuel your muscles with a good, healthy diet, your body should bounce back stronger and without pain.
If the pain is incessant, rather than a response to physical activity, it could be a sign that there are lifestyle issues that need to be addressed that are the more likely cause of this type of pain.
What Causes Joint & Back Pain?
Joint pain and swelling can form due to overexertion, injuries that haven't properly healed, and/or a lack of nutrients required by the musculoskeletal system to perform its highest function.
To avoid joint pain it's important to not overdo a particular exercise, to avoid lifting excessively heavy items, to be very conscious of good form when you exercise, and maintaining a strong, healthy posture throughout your life.
There's a saying among the chiropractic community, that says that, "You're only as young as the flexibility of your spine", so it's important to preserve this vital structure if you want to be healthy and mobile in your golden years.
Here are nine tips that will support a strong musculoskeletal system, so that you can feel stronger, more confident, supple and pain-free and even help to avoid muscle, joint and back pain for good...
1. Support your recovery
When you experience the most intense pain, give yourself a day or two of complete rest; this means no heavy exercising or standing for long hours on your feet.
Experiment with remedial massage and hot salt baths to soothe tired muscles and stimulate circulation.
These two suggestions alone are incredibly healing practices, that can make the world of difference when it comes to naturally treating and relieving muscle, joint and back pain.
Ask your masseuse to add a few drops of an essential oil like Aroma Touch to their massage oil to help penetrate, nourish and soothe the repair of your muscles. Add a few drops of Lavender and/or Frankincense to your hot bath with Epsom Salts and Magnesium Flakes
Tip: Plant-based oils and balms like Lavender and Peppermint Oil, Golden ReLeaf Oil and our Healing Chrysm balm can all be very effective when applied topically to the site of the pain and are also recommended as a key part of your 'medicine cabinet' at home.
The Healing Chrysm balm works wonders by combining plant oils and butters and penetrating the nerves and muscles for instant relief.
Learn more in The Health Benefits of Bath Salts & How to Make Your Own
2. Check Your Mattress & Posture
Mattresses are only designed to last 8-10 years, and most people are using mattresses that are well past their expiry date. This could be a serious culprit in muscle, joint and back pain, so examining your mattress and upgrading it could make the difference.
Choose a medium-firm mattress to give your body the support it needs and try sleeping flat on your back with a pillow under your knees to take the pressure off of your spine.
Your posture could also be causing you muscle, joint and back pain: take a look at how you’re most often sitting at work and at home and make a concerted effort to keep your neck and spine aligned while giving your lower back support.
Stand up straight regularly - every 30 minutes or so and place your arms out stretched and circle them around one way, then the other for about 30 seconds each.
Try to get outside and walk for 10-15 minutes at least once throughout the day and have a light stretch as well. This keeps your muscles loose and the blood flowing throughout your body.
Ensure your joints are protected by using ergonomic keyboards and mice, and keep your screen level with your eyes so you’re not straining your neck. These small changes can add up to huge improvements over time, and less wear and tear overall on your body.
3. Ease Back Into Exercise
Once you start to feel better, you’ll want to ease back into exercise. You definitely shouldn’t quit exercising altogether (even if it is what caused you pain), but you can be more strategic about it to not only prevent future pain but to even strengthen your muscles, back and joints so that they’re less susceptible to injury.
Choose low-impact exercises like yoga, pilates, cycling, swimming (swimming is particularly low-impact since the water takes the pressure off your muscles, back and joints while still providing gentle resistance), or simply brisk walking.
Focus on form rather than intensity and on strengthening your stabilising muscles like your core, abs and back to support your spine.
Secondly, one of the best exercises you can do to alleviate back pain at home is bent knee push-ups. Stretch when you rise and then doing 20 in the morning and 20 in the evening before bed.
Movement distributes nutrients into the disc space and soft tissues in the spine to keep the muscles, ligaments and joints healthy.
On the flip side, if you don't move enough you're going to stiffen and weaken your joint conditioning.
Generally, a back pain exercise or rehabilitation program should encompass a combination of stretching (particularly hamstring), stabilisation and low impact exercise.
Learn more in Top Low Impact Exercises for Health & Wellness
4. Change Positions Frequently
If you’re suffering from joint pain, make sure to keep vary your activity. This is a subtle, but powerful way to learn how to reduce muscle, joint and back pain.
Most joint pain occurs after periods of inactivity, so regularly stand up and walk around, stretch, and move positions to avoid placing any stress on particular joints. See the posture interrupter exercise in point 2 above.
5. Choose the Right Footwear
The importance of wearing proper footwear to prevent back, muscles, and joint pain can’t be understated.
It gives your body the support it needs to protect itself from shock and strain. Choose shock-absorbent footwear as well as shoes with plenty of support to help your body walk and stand more comfortably.
6. Stretch & Warm Up
Regular stretching can help loosen up the muscles and joints so that you feel less stiff, especially if you work in an office job or spend a lot of time sitting.
You also need to ensure that before any physical activity that you take the time to stretch properly and warm up, to give your muscles, back and joints time to ease into it so that the exertion is less of a shock.
7. Consume Enough Water & Salt
Oftentimes, drinking more water is the solution and it’s no exception here. Your muscles and joints need water to work properly, and cramps are often a sign of dehydration or depletion of salt and minerals in the body. Ensure you’re drinking plenty of clean water (especially after exercising) and take care that you’re getting enough quality salt.
During physical exercise, it's important to not only drink plenty of clean water, but to ensure that you're getting enough good (nature-made) salt into your body also.
The original 'Gatorade' was ingenious when it was created, but unfortunately, the 'sports drink' industry has been bought into and today these products are laced with additives that make them a shadow of their former self.
If you want to try preparing your own sports drink, simply add celtic sea salt, lemon juice (and raw honey if desired) to 1 litre of pure cold water. Bingo!
8. Maintain Healthy Weight
Your weight plays a surprising part in the healing of muscles, joints, and back pain. When you’re overweight, this can create inflammation in the body that can lead to joint pain. It also puts added pressure on your back and joints, causing pain and straining issues.
Add more RAW plant foods to your diet - salads, fruits, steamed veges, nuts and seeds and eliminate all processed, fatty foods and refined grains which are all very inflammatory.
By maintaining a healthy weight, you can ease the pressure that’s being put on your muscles, back, and joints, while also preventing painful inflammation throughout your body.
At snack time, choose fruit or dried fruit and raw nuts like brazil nuts, macadamias and almonds, or snack on Pulse Sacred Meal to infuse your cells with an array of nutrients that will strengthen and keep you energised.
9. Eat these 'Super' Foods
Certain foods in the plant kingdom have super powers when it comes to alleviating joint and muscle pain because they help to reduce inflammation in the body.
Here's a healthy list of foods you should definitely include in your diet if you suffer from muscle or joint pain because they're rich in potassium and magnesium:
- Fruits - Cherries, Avocados, Bananas, Citrus & Prunes
- Vegetables - Celery, Leafy Greens, Cabbage, Potatoes, and Tomatoes
- Cold-Pressed Oils - Olive, Coconut, Flaxseed, Avocado and Macadamia
...And raw organic cacao or chocolate! (Add a tablespoon to a hot drink or smoothie)
The nutrients in these foods help muscles stay supple and elastic and help you to avoid injury and pain.
Learn more in Magnesium Deficiency: Symptoms, Causes & Remedies
A final word on Back Pain...
Studies show that 4 out of every 5 adults will experience some form of back pain in their life.
But most times, the severity of the back pain is not related to the extent of the physical damage. Meaning that a simple back strain can cause excruciating pain, making it difficult to even stand upright or walk, whilst a large herniated or degenerated disc can be almost painless.
It's no secret that movement is crucial for maintaining a strong, healthy functioning physical body, but excessive tension and overexertion can also contribute to injuries and degeneration, so it's important that you find that 'happy medium', particularly as you age, to avoid muscular degenerative dis-eases like fibromyalgia.
To treat back pain, the ancients would often use what is referred to as, "The Healing Hands" i.e. therapeutic massage, osteopathic and chiropractic.
Muscle, joint and back pain can be incredibly painful, but you don’t have to constantly live with it. These nine tips are designed to help you live a pain-free, healthy life so that you can get back to doing what you love without worrying about your next flare up.
Tolman Self Care.