Do you hear that noise? It comes across like a soft whisper but carries the urgency of a crying horn. The great outdoors is calling your name. It is time to get outside.
The elegant Audrey Hepburn loved being outside. She said, “I love being outdoors, love taking a long walk with my dogs and looking at the trees, flowers, the sky.”
What do you like doing outside? Who do you enjoy outdoor activities with? When is the last time you allowed yourself to spend quality time taking in fresh air and sunshine?
Whether you take pleasure in leisure strolls or morning jogs with a friend, outdoor activity is important to living a balanced life. The natural benefits of fresh air and vitamin D from the sun actually enhance physical health and can elevate your mood (Environmental Health Perspectives).
You are probably aware of the many benefits of being outside and don’t need to be reminded. If you are not getting out enough, there is a good reason why.
What is your reason for not spending time outdoors? Does tension between your shoulder blades, pain in your lower back, or sore hips keep you in? Do you have spinal stenosis, osteoarthritis, or a ruptured disc? Often times, when people are quarantined inside, back pain is the culprit.
Back pain comes in all shapes and sizes. Many women have experienced back pain in the past, currently live with it now, or know someone who struggles to live a normal life in spite of it.
Aside from prescription medication and regular trips to the chiropractor, doctors recommend bed rest for back pain (UW Medicine). But what if this does not help? What if your back pain does not go away? Will you be confined to your bed indefinitely?
To those who live with restrictive back pain, outdoor activities can seem like the epitome of freedom. There is some truth to this statement. The natural world stretches far beyond four walls and can free you from certain entanglements that cause stress. For instance, problems that exist inside your home or place of business seem to disappear (if only temporarily) when you go outside. More so, fresh air and vitamin D are good for boosting spirits. When you take advantage of these refreshing traits, you can feel good about yourself and garner strength to tackle life.
Because the great outdoors has physical and emotional benefits, once you are able to conquer your back pain and get outside, it may be easier to remain healthy, active, and pain free. Dr. Jonathan Chung, chiropractor at Keystone Chiropractic in Wellington, sheds light on why the great outdoors is the best place for people with back pain.
But first, to clear the air, it is important to note that Dr. Chung does not consider driving to his office for weekly visits as spending time outside. In fact, his goal is to see you only “as often as you see a dentist.” A couple times a year. The form of chiropractic work in which Dr. Chung specializes is known for its lasting adjustments.
Have you heard of NUCCA? It’s an acronym for Upper Cervical Chiropractic Association (NUCCA). Dr. Chung practices NUCCA, a specific form of chiropractic work that focuses on the top part of the neck. As you can imagine, the point of the body where the head and neck meet is very sensitive. Even though it is one of the most delicate parts of the body, a lot happens in the neck. For instance, all nerves, including the sciatic nerve (which travels the course of the lower back, buttocks and hips), are connected to the brain through the tunnel of the neck.
Before the first adjustment, Chung examines patients with x-rays to confirm that there is a small misalignment of the upper neck. From there, Dr. Chung uses a gentle but precise method to align the body. Once the adjustment is made, a person can remain in alignment for weeks, months, and even years.
For the best chances of holding an alignment, Dr. Chung reminds his patients (and all those who suffer from back pain) to mind their posture.
Bad habits cannot be broken immediately and Dr. Chung is not suggesting you reach perfection right away. He says a good first step in self-correcting your posture is “abdominal bracing.” To reduce twisting force on your spine, engage your abdominal muscles at about 20 percent capacity all the time. And be sure to monitor how much you are sitting. Dr. Chung agrees with a number of new articles that claim sitting increases causes of death (Harvard Health Publication).
From this information, you might be able to tell that Dr. Chung is not like other doctors. He is not recommending bed rest for back pain (although, there may be times when bed rest is necessary). He is recommending core strengthening and full body engagement for select back ailments. Dr.Chung emphasizes the need for a full examination by a qualified back specialist before engaging in physically activity.
Dr. Chung is a firm believer that the body craves movement.
Beyond movement, Dr. Chung recognizes the benefits of sunlight, vitamin D, and fresh air. According to Dr. Chung, the outdoors is a great place where people should spend time, in spite of back pain. It is not that Dr. Chung disagrees with a treatment plan that includes bed rest and over-the-counter medicine, it is just that the type of “bed rest” Dr. Chung promotes contradicts the type of bed rest we often envision.
After exposing how improper sleep posture is problematic to spinal health, Dr. Chung says sleeping on the ground (like, in a camping scenario) may actually help people with back pain. “Mattresses are too soft,” he says, “and not supportive enough for our spines.” This causes us to sleep on our stomachs, which is bad for the neck. Ultimately, when you sleep on the ground you are more likely to sleep on your back.
While most of us will opt for firmer mattresses, it is beneficial to know that a solid surface is better for maintaining aligned posture.
When asked if there are any activities people with back pain ought to avoid, Dr. Chung said, “All activities that you can do safely are fine. Just be sure to approach exercise with common sense.” A combination of common sense and conscientiousness (minding your posture) ought to deliver you at a heightened state of wellbeing, in an environment that provides long-term overall health benefits.
~ Dr. Jonathan Chung ~
Even though back pain is uncomfortable, staying in bed might not help the matter. Your body craves full body movement. Dr. Chung wants to see people find relief from back pain in one way or another. He wants PlumbTalk Women to know that the best self-care videos are available at mobilitywod.com. Also, he writes a free weekly blog. Visit ChiropracticKeystone.com to read his helpful tips and techniques.
If you have surrendered one beautiful sunshine day to back pain, it is too many. The great outdoors is the best place to be for you, despite back pain. Contrary to popular opinion, bed rest can perpetuate back pain if not fully evaluated and diagnosed properly. Being outdoors, engaging in appropriate activity, and being mindful of your body’s posture might be the best way to live a fully aligned life.
What are you waiting for? Get outside. The great outdoors calls your name.