Happy holidays, and welcome to back pain season! No, I’m not kidding. Take a look at the Google Trends image (click on the image to see a larger version) and notice the red arrows placed at two-year intervals. They indicate the January spike in back pain queries. Google has even forecasted the spike (dotted line) for January 2014. What can you do to buck the trend?
- Take a Deep Breath: Is your house full of relatives representing the wing-nut, control freak, and hypercritical perfectionist branches of the family tree? Take a deep breath and try not to engage with these reality show wannabes. While the cause of most back pain can be traced to postural and functional origins (see The Back Pain Cycle, below), stress triggers most acute bouts.
- Make Time for You: Before Hallothanksgivemas became a marketing holiday, the end of the year was about spending quality time with family. Emphasize memorable experiences over material goods, and schedule regular alone time to manage stress. Your back and your wallet will thank you come the new year.
- Stay Active: Movement is key to keeping back pain at bay. Keep up your fitness routine or try something new, whether walking, hiking, cycling, running, skiing, snowshoeing, or tracing snow angels.
- Get Hands-On: Acupuncture, massage, and yoga are all effective evidence-based back pain treatments. Don’t hesitate to treat yourself to a preventive or therapeutic hands-on session.
- Use Acupressure: Is your massage therapist or acupuncturist away for the holidays? I’m not an acupuncturist, but I do have a favorite acupressure point. It releases the emotionally sensitive psoas (among other things), which is a common back pain culprit. Rub with your thumb in a counterclockwise direction on the belly of each forearm muscle one at a time until the soreness dissipates, about three finger-widths down from the crook of your elbow. It’s an unobtrusive and quick way to settle down your psoas, anytime, anywhere.
Start 2014 right. This year, plan ahead to beat holiday back pain.