Back pain or stiffness is quite common over the age of 40.
So what can us older stiffer duffers do about it?
We go about it by tuning into the brain and body in specific ways.
Today, we know more about the brain. And how it can change.
Tuning into the brain will actually help.
The brain is in your hands to wield it’s incredible power of easing pain and stiffness.
Rigid tension or harmful stress can be melted away. So we can feel more pliable, flexible and notice a return of pleasurable feelings.
With a little brain-body practice, we can maintain a comfortable state.
Here are 7 tips to help us get the back… back to feeling great.
1. Feel it consciously or lose (feeling) it unconsciously
Many of us take our back for granted. (Until it’s stiff or aching).
Our unconscious behavior happens over time when we aren’t tuning into the spine enough.
See. Our spine’s ability is enhanced. When you give it some attention with your conscious awareness.
One way to do that is to lie down on your back.
1. Try this.
Start at the tailbone and feel it. Then move up to the sacrum and feel that area.
Then move your attention into the lower back. Feel each spinal segment or vertebrae one by one all the way up into your neck.
Then reverse course and feel each part of your spine.
This type of attention may not at first seem easy. So practice feeling all the parts of your spine so it becomes easier to lie still and notice.
2. Try this.
Tune into how your spine feels when you move around.
All it takes is just noticing whatever activity you are doing for a few movements and hone in on your spine.
Notice how your spine feels when you move around.
Say from a simple activity such as unloading the dishwasher and putting the dishes back up.
Take the time to feel and notice what your spine feels like. And how it moves.
This paying attention to your own sensory information will wakeup the brain and body.
2. Move your spine in a variety of directions
Sounds reasonable, but who is actually thinking it through and then doing it afterwards.
If we keep using the spine the same way day in, day out. Then we set a program in the brain of what muscles are being used and others which are not.
The brain grows when you give it something different such as tuning into your spine when you move.
For example. The next time you put the dishes away. Figure out how to do it or move a little differently than you normally do.
Say you walk forwards and reach to put a dish up. Then the next time. Walk backwards and put another dish up.
Then twist to one side and put the dish up. Then the other side.
You up the level of the connection when mindfully bending, flexing, and twisting in a variety of ways.
3. Vary how you sit
Being sedentary or sitting too long in the same position. Works against us especially when we live with chronic pain or stiffness.
You’ve probably heard that sitting for too long is the new smoking. Well kinda sorta since you can sit comfortably for long periods – if you are aware.
Otherwise, sitting for long periods can undermine our spine.
See. We can be unconsciously programming the brain and muscles into certain (tension) patterns. And before you know it. We may feel like we are held in check.
Pay close attention to how you sit. And consciously change or vary your position. That way you can shift the spine around.
When you do this. You may find your normal go to pattern. Then change it so you have other options.
And get up more often than you think, especially if you feel stiff or tension creeping in. I know that is easier said than done.
I coach my chronic pain/stiff clients to get up every 20 minutes.
Yes! Set a timer so that even if you are binge watching. Get up and stand or move. Or consciously change the way you sit.
This will help break a pattern which gets set in.
With back pain, mindful movement and awareness is paramount.
Since this can free us while you cheer or binge to your heart’s delight.
4. Wake-up your spine with gentle mobilizations
Easy, gentle small movements helps to rebuild and maintain the capacity of the spine.
The more gentle you are. The better you can tune into both – the how of how you are moving – and what the feelings in your back provide as feedback.
So let your back warm up easily and gently. And feel as much as you can with how your spine can adjust (or not) before going full bore with the rest of your day.
Take an inside look at how the spine can move well here.
5. Update the movement software
Our computers and devices can get bogged down if the software isn’t updated. Or when they need to be restarted or rebooted.
With a little movement software update. You enhance the memory and information that your muscles, tendons, and joint need.
Plus, the fascia which houses the muscles. Has more sense receptors. So you gotta update how you move to keep the lines of communication clear to work for you.
By paying attention to your feelings and awareness. You can change the structure and function of the brain.
So that a conscious movement update can smooth out the kinks and helps us remain flexible
This will help maintain the spine’s ability to function when you need it most.
6. Floss your back joints
Your spine is a series of joints where you can take the plaque out of it.
Go back to feeing your spine. Feel both sides of the spine.
Notice if you can feel each segment or notice if there are any blank spots feeling each segment.
Then feel the front and back side of each segment.
Is it clear or a little fuzzy?
Then start to gently move a few of the joints in any variety of directions.
Gentle movements joint by joint (or in a group) can help take the plaque out. This way you can maintain comfortable freedom.
7. Breathe as you move
Consciously play with your breath as you move to add in another level of difference or awareness.
See. The brain enjoys novel ways of moving. This helps the body get and remain in a fluid state.
So you can add breathing into the mix.
There are many ways to breathe. So add that into the mix as you move around.
Or don’t breathe and feel what happens to your ability to move your spine.
A Comfortable Back
Paying attention to the little movements you can do. Helps build and maintain a foundation for overall comfortable, easy, effortless movement.
That way. When it is time to use the bigger muscles or the entire body.
You’re set up to feel free and in control.
So go ahead and explore small, minute adjustments.
This can make all the difference to keep the back feeling good.
Interested in all sorts of brain-body ways to maneuver the spine? Check out The Classroom where we got all the moves to keep us comfortable for life!