Carol Belanger, BA, RM, BHS
There are many contributing factors of low back pain. Among them, lifting, bending, turning or in combination, seem to be the most common causes of low back pain. I want to discuss a factor that not many would consider. Yet, it is a factor that can affect us all. I want to describe for you, the influence of low energy levels on back pain.
How many of us say things like, “Ah, I have no energy today.” Or, “I’m spent.” Or, “I’m pooped.”? Yes, we can recognize when our energy levels get low.
But have you stopped to consider your energy level, where it comes from and where it goes? Those are easy questions on the surface to answer when we do start to consider them, and some of the answers are pretty common too.
Where it (energy) comes from: food, drink, sleeping, resting; you might even realize that sunshine and exercise recovery give us energy.
Where it (energy) goes: stress, working out, our jobs, our kids, our spouse, schooling or training, etc.
In a typical day, our activities follow one after the other. So we cycle up and down in energy level between our energy inputs and our uses of energy. But is this enough energy to sustain us? The answer usually is no. And how can you tell, how can you gauge this? Look for frustration, statements of fatigue, feeling stressed, feeling pain – yes, feeling pain.
There is a correlation between low energy and pain levels. When we have low energy, our ability to tolerate or ignore pain is diminished. And so is our strength. And so is our concentration. A combination of these aspects leads to less focus on lifting, bending and turning, a greater potential for strain or injury, as well as a lowered ability to tolerate the strain or injury incurred. This one process alone is exacerbating insurance payouts and rising premiums, WCB claims, sick days, childcare costs, etc., not to mention the compounded effects on our mental and emotional states.
There are steps we could be taking throughout the day to offset these complications, to counter this low energy process and reduce problems; it’s time for us to more seriously begin to incorporate these habit-changing and fortifying steps.
Among the many available, here are three choices that could be used intermittently throughout the day:
1. Meditation – mind and body calming and clearing. Give your brain a fresh start for the afternoon ahead or before a meeting or after a meeting!
2. Qigong – light movements with calming breathing and de-stressing. Feel more balanced or refreshed again as if you just started your day, with no equipment required!
3. Drink more water – flush your body so it can work more cleanly and take less energy to run.
If you feel too busy to read books or online how to do these things, classes or one-on-one sessions to teach you are available here. You can learn the techniques to take with you and also have some fortifying and enjoyable experiences while doing so!
Learn how you can use these choices in a 10 minute break in your day. Learn how you can make them work simply and on the spot for you, without special equipment or specific environments. Use your time smarter so instead of just a quick rest which has the shortest term benefits, you rejuvenate using choice.
As more people do this, it will become the new norm in our society. Our society is currently sadly lacking in self-care fortifying methods to sustain us. Most of us just keep pushing and hoping for the best or ignoring what we think we can put off. If you’re already experiencing frustration, stress, fatigue or pain, you are, like most of us, already living the effects. Short-term sustained problems often lead to long-term, larger, more complicated and more serious problems. We’ll spend far greater energy and other valuable resources trying to recover just to get back to this low level. We just aren’t realizing that we could actually be flourishing more of the time with some new choices.