Healing Back Pain (& maybe even HEADACHES?!) Naturally Through Trigger Point Therapy
It Starts with a Habit
I have this bad habit that I slowly sink back into. It involves me... forgetting to move my body.
It looks like this: I get sucked into work, and then I sit and work and forget to move.
Basically, like most Americans, I WAS SITTING TOO LONG.
Sitting too long is thought to be at least partial cause for: more than 30 chronic diseases, obesity, and higher health care costs. (SOURCE)
Change is Hard
Moving more seems like a simple enough problem to fix, but I’ve struggled.
It’s crazy because I know the benefits of regular movement and exercise... not just for physical health but also for mental health.
Yes, exercise helps prevent and even heal mental health issues, and then there's the heart health benefits, and all those other lovely things... But regular movement also helps keep away aches and pains like neck pain or lower back pain, and maybe even headaches?!
Have you ever had ‘terrible-horrible-how-the-heck-did-this-happen, where-in-the-world-did-this-come-from’ back pain?
Yea, me too.
Also, before I go on any longer, I want to tell you: as I write this I am actually talking it into my microphone because I vowed to reduce my time spent looking down at my phone or being scrunched up my computer.
Temporarily, at least.
So in order to keep my integrity in regard to the message I’m sharing, I feel it’s necessary to let you know I’m not breaking the vow to myself by writing this post.
Instead, I am actually sitting on a yoga mat with a foam roller massaging my glutes and tush. And, I am intentionally relaxing my shoulder muscles. All while using talk-to-text.
My Paint Point: Headaches
I was talking to my sister about her recent episode of back pain, and I had an ah-ha moment about our topic of discussion: trigger points.
The technical term is myofascial trigger points and the topic was top-of-mind for her, because our chiropractor had been talking about them.
(Yes, we use the same chiropractor. Isn’t that cute?)
Anyway, all of this talk of trigger points, got me thinking… what if my headaches are actually referred pain from a tight neck?!
For some reason, it had never occurred to me that my headaches might be related to my muscles.
In fact, in pursuit of relief, I *thought* I had left no stone unturned in trying to figure out the cause of my headaches:
- I tracked my water consumption to rule out the simplest culprit: dehydration.
- I had my blood levels checked.
- I tried illuminating various foods from my diet.
- I saw a doctor about my hormones…
And, basically I was still getting headaches every day.
Now I don’t feel fully out of the woods enough to say I’ve “healed” my headaches but I feel like I might be onto something with this whole ‘muscular thing.’
It’s too soon to tell because it’s only been a few days of me trying out my new strategy, but I am feeling HOPEFUL.
Below are a few simple shifts I decided to try out:
- Spend less time working (or being) on my phone.
- Spend less time on my laptop, too. And when I am on it, be especially mindful of not scrunching my shoulders up, like I seem to habitually do.
- If I am working from my laptop, switch to a standing position if and when possible.
- Take breaks and do stretches every 45 minutes or more.
- And, finally: incorporate more yoga, stretching and massage into my day. Bonus points if I include a foam roller.
I purchased a handheld back massager but I’ve also been incorporating some trigger point therapy, which I learned about in this excellent article. Trigger point therapy is a fancy way of saying massaging your muscles.
That article has been an amazing resource as I really get to learn where the various trigger points could be located, and specifically where my particular trigger points are located (the ones that might be associated with my headaches).
That article also explained how our neck muscles shorten due to our “laptop and cell phone postures,” which can lead to the issue of tight muscles, which goes on to create other referred pain.
That is to say, my neck never really seemed to hurt, but my head was pounding every day. Once I slowed down and tuned in, I realized my neck was quite tight, and massaging and stretching it led to some relief of my head pain.
IN SUMMARY... SORT OF
So why am I going on and on about this?
If there’s even a tiny chance I can help someone, I want to! I want to help YOU if you have had some neck pain, back pain, or headaches. Small changes create big results.
Once I started paying attention, I realized that when I’m on my phone my neck muscles tense up and I hunch over. And on my laptop I do this strange shoulder scrunch thing and it is painful. I didn’t even realize I was doing it. Until now! Plus, there's that sitting too long thing that I mentioned in the beginning.
We are on our phones and computers more, and more, and MORE these days, so I can’t be alone in this struggle. And despite considering myself semi-mindful and self-aware, somehow I had no idea I was getting so “scrunched up” every time I typed or spent time on my phone.
A LIFTED Life
What I love most about this idea is that a ties so perfectly into our message of a lifted life.
The message that says “how you feel matters” and “you deserve to feel good” and “we need to move our bodies more” and all of those wonderful things. Plus, best of all, we are talking about fixing these issues, naturally.
Yes, that’s our message, but sometimes, somehow, I lose touch.
But in talking about this journey and making these issues public: it shows you and it shows me: I am willing to fail better.
“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail better.” -Samuel Beckett
I am willing to show that I, too, struggle and I'm willing to commit and then recommit to feeling better.
Over and over again.
Sylvia | Cofounder of Lifted