Most people resort to popping over-the-counter pain medications to get rid of their back pain. While pain medications are convenient, they aren’t necessarily the safest or most effective method of reducing back pain.
Over time, your body will build up a tolerance to pain medications, and you’ll need to take more and more to get the same effect. So while you may be able to get rid of the pain today with two Tylenol, in a few months or even weeks you’ll be needing four. Not only is this expensive, it’s not good for you, either.
In fact, consuming too much ibuprofen and other medications can wreak havoc on your liver and kidneys, which are responsible for filtering your blood. So it’s best to get back pain relief elsewhere.
Many people today are trying to find healthy ways to cope with stress and pain. Research has shown that people who use mindfulness meditation and yoga as a coping mechanism for chronic lower back pain actually experienced more relief than people who used medication.
According to the study, meditation relieves back pain because meditating changes the way your brain focuses its attention and the way you react emotionally. Meditating allows your brain to develop the ability to acknowledge the pain, accept it, and not be bothered by it.
Meditation improves your brain’s awareness of your body. Some people like to call this mindfulness, or “being in the moment.” By training your brain, you become more aware of your body’s position, aches, and relief from pain. A recent study found that when people were more aware of their body’s position and the way they were moving, they were able to find the most comfortable and pain-free positions to relieve back pain.
If this all sounds too good to be true, then try it out for yourself. There are many different ways to meditate. Some people prefer to do guided meditations while others prefer to simply sit and focus on their breathing.
To begin, find a comfortable place to sit where your back is supported. Relax your body and close your eyes. Focus on your breathing. Thoughts will enter your mind; this is normal. Simply acknowledge each thought and let it go. Return your attention to your breathing and your body. Do this for a set amount of time, starting with about five minutes. Gradually increase your time up to 20 minutes as you get more comfortable.
If you’re finding it difficult to keep your focus on your breathing and pay attention to your body, try a guided meditation. Guided meditations are audio recordings that walk you through the mental exercise of meditation. The University of California at Los Angeles offers free guided meditations that you can download to your phone, computer, or any smart device.
Meditation can seem like a daunting mental challenge for anyone who is unfamiliar with the exercise. However, meditation is nothing more than sitting quietly and paying attention to yourself. That’s not too scary, is it? And if it can bring you relief from chronic back pain, then only good can come from it.