For over 30 years, I have worked daily to help patients find lasting relief from recurrent back and neck pain. In my mind, one thing that really stands out is how different patients’ expectations can be. Most of us believe that when we’re sick, we go to the doctor for he or she will alleviate our pain. But this convenient, albeit limited, way of looking at health externalizes the blame for poor health. It places the blame for illness outside of our control, obligating us to visit our healthcare professionals. Ultimately, this approach limits our potential wellness.
Taking your health into your own hands
There certainly are times when the doctor’s help is invaluable. But in most cases, we can do far more to help our own back than any doctor or therapist can do for us. And from personal experience, I can testify to this.
My patients who take responsibility for their health and back pain are the most successful. During early care, this might include application of ice packs at home as well as specific stretching exercises. As pain and swelling subside, the focus shifts to improving overall function of spinal joints and toning supportive muscles. At appointments, I frequently reinforce this “homework” so patients understand the value of regular home-care over the long term.
Confusion over protocol often results in inaction. For instance, even the simple choice of whether to use heat or ice can stifle us into doing nothing for fear of doing the wrong thing. In this case, perhaps no action may be the better choice. It is pretty well accepted that applying heat, especially early on in a musculoskeletal injury (strained back) for instance, can often slow the healing process by increasing the inflammatory effect.
Combating perpetual inflammation
Americans and citizens of most industrialized countries live in a state of perpetual inflammation, in my opinion. Our poor dietary choices and relatively sedentary lifestyle contribute to many factors which upset the body’s normal chemistry, causing joint and muscle fiber irritation. This can travel from one area of the body to another from week to week, limiting our enjoyment of life. The back and neck are common places to experience this irritation.
In my experience, both personally and through the many thousands of patients I have seen over the past three decades, we can reduce the negative effect inflammation has on our body through two simple activities:
- Eat a healthier diet. This should be a no-brainer. Many scientific studies have demonstrated the value of eating larger volumes of anti-inflammatory foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. These same studies also encourage the reduction of animal proteins and fats, sugars, alcohol and other processed foods. I have found this approach to be particularly helpful in eliminating my own chronic back pain over the years.
- Move! We need to put motion through our joints and muscles every day. Motion helps our body to move fluids, including nutrients and waste materials in and out of all our body’s trillions of cells. The exchange of nutrients and waste products from cells is a monumental task to say the least. It is in our best interest to assist the body in doing this. Before industrialization, people worked hard physically all day, every day. Fluid exchange in the body’s cells was a given. They did not even have to give exercise a thought. These days, we need to make an effort to move. As little as 15 minutes of exercise each day can help the body function better and even increase your basal metabolic rate for up to two days following!
How the BackTrac can help fluid exchange
Fluid exchange is one way I believe the BackTrac Back Massager can help. The BackTrac can produce a squeegee effect, pushing fluids from massaged muscles. This also introduces motion through stagnant spinal joints and discs. This, in my opinion, can help the body improve nutrient delivery and waste removal from stagnated muscles and joints. Also, you may not notice it because the massage feels so great, but you are actually exercising your hips and abs while enjoying the BackTrac. Check out the following two infared images of my back before and after using the BackTrac. The changes in temperature definitely demonstrate the beneficial effect a regular massage on the BackTrac can have. Temperature patterns change as the body decreases then increases circulation to the back muscles.