As recently reported by NBC News, lower back pain is the leading cause of disability around the world, and yet it almost always gets the wrong treatments.
Doctors typically prescribe drugs (opioids) or surgery, but studies show that drugs and surgery not only fail to work for back pain in most cases, but they create different problems. We’re all aware of the opioid epidemic with addictions, suicides and other side effects, and surgery risks complications and is extremely expensive.
What does work for back pain?
It turns out one of the very best cures is exercise.
Physical therapy, counseling, massage and even meditation are shown to be helpful, but regular exercise is the single best long-term cure for back pain, as well as many other kinds of pain.
Among the best kinds of exercise for back pain are yoga, tai chi, and gentle qigong. Yoga and tai chi for back pain are particularly useful because you can practice to the degree that makes sense for you – gently or vigorously – and adjust your intensity as your conditions improve. Both tai chi and yoga help you develop a strong core, and it’s often the strength of your core muscles that impact the support of your spine and back muscles to reduce pain. Also, exercise stimulates energy and blood flow, helping to bring nutrients to the muscles and tissue in the back that need healing and are causing your pain.
Research also shows that overweight people suffer more back pain, so exercise can be doubly effective because as it strengthens your core and stimulates blood flow, it can also help you shed the extra pounds that put a strain on your spine and back muscles.
So if you’re suffering back pain or other kinds of chronic pain, consider taking up a regular practice of tai chi, yoga or qigong. Even if you’ve disliked exercise in the past because of boredom or feeling out of place, you may find like many people that an authentic and traditional tai chi and yoga program is quite different: These arts engage the mind as much as the body and can keep practitioners intrigued for a lifetime of enjoyment.
If you’re tired of living – or barely living – with back pain, then “get moving” and try the wonderful arts of tai chi, yoga or qigong.