Back pain is consistently one of the top reasons why a person may need to visit their doctor. Because there are so many different causes for back pain, there are a number of different methods for treating it. One method in particular that has shown to be beneficial is increasing blood flow. By increasing blood flow, you are effectively reducing stiffness, relaxing the muscles and promoting more flexibility and overall comfort for the aching area.
Ways to increase blood flow to the back to reduce pain
There are many different ways you can increase the blood flow to your back to alleviate the pain you’re feeling. Some methods, like exercise, may already be a part of your daily routine, and may just need some fine tuning to cater to your injury. Other examples may need to be introduced to your routines altogether in order to reduce your back pain and get you back to living well.
The following exercises are great options for relieving common back pain like general soreness, achiness, and pulled muscles. By exercising consistently, you are boosting your circulation, or the flow of blood throughout your body. If you don’t have a specific, more serious diagnosis than just that general soreness, these two exercises will be able to help with your blood flow and in turn alleviate your back pain.
LOW IMPACT EXERCISE
Any exercise that will get you up and moving and increasing your heart rate is sure to increase your blood flow. In particular though, low impact exercises such as walking, riding a stationary bike, and water therapy will benefit those experiencing back pain. These get you up and moving more so than the routine movements you experience throughout your day, such as walking to and from your desk at work. At the same time, it provides you with aerobic conditioning needed to promote the increase in blood flow throughout your body.
A big part of relieving the pain in your back is strengthening the muscles in the general area. By strengthening these muscles, you reduce the stress placed on your back and relieve any excess pressure to the area. Focusing on building up the strength in your legs, abdomen, lower back and hips will go a long way in relieving that stress and alleviate the pain that you’re feeling.
Blood Flow Restriction training is a technique that you can use while working to strengthen these muscle groups. With this type of training, you use an elastic band or wrap around the upper portion of the area you are exercising (arm or leg). The use of the band allows for the arterial blood inflow but restricts the venous blood return flow. This creates the same effect that is present during heavy weight training. It’s particularly useful for those who have suffered injuries due to the fact that you can use lighter weights while getting the same systematic response you’d get from lifting heavy weights. This technique should be practiced only under the supervision of a trained professional.
A common reason for back pain is stiffness and lack of stabilization, which will progressively get worse with lack of physical activity and neglecting your body’s range of motion. Consistent stretching is necessary for increasing the flexibility of your muscles, tendons, and ligaments. You should focus not only on your back when stretching, but also the parts of your body indirectly involved with your back, like your hamstrings for instance. By increasing and strengthening these parts of your body, you will start to notice a reduction in your back pain.
When back pain persists over the course of 2 to 6 weeks, it’s often recommended that you seek options for physical therapy to treat the ailment. Physical therapy serves to increase the function of the target area, provide you with the knowledge to continue maintaining that function, and reduce the overall pain you’re experiencing in the area. Typically, therapy includes the use of both passive physical therapy (methods a therapist does to you) and active physical therapy (methods you take action with such as stretching or strengthening exercises)
HEAT AND COLD THERAPY
One form of passive physical therapy that is commonly used for back injuries caused by strain or over-exertion is the use of heat therapy. The benefit of heat therapy is the ability to manipulate blood flow to the area based on the time frame of the injury and the type of injury itself. For back pain, sticking to heat therapy is advised and you should avoid using cold therapy such as ice packs or cold chemical packs. This is because cold therapy serves to decrease the blood flow which can result in stiffness to the area. Because back pain is commonly caused by muscle tension, using cold therapy can aggravate these injuries further.
Applying heat to the injury promotes an increase of blood flow to the area, helping to relax the muscle tension in that area. Different methods of heating your back include using a safe heating device such as heating pads or hot water bottles and soaking in a hot bath (between 92 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit). Typically heat should be applied for 20 minutes up to 3 times a day.
Massage therapy is a great way to increase the blood flow throughout target areas. The squeezing and pulling involved in massage techniques actually assist the circulation process. The pressure that’s added to the area during the massage moves blood through the inflamed area while the release of that pressure allows for new blood to flow. By increasing and improving this circulation, any damaged or stiff muscles are receiving the oxygen filled blood needed to begin that healing process.
While exercising is a great way of increasing your blood flow and reducing the inflammation in your back, too much can further aggravate the injury. This is where activity modification comes in. If you’re used to strenuous physical activity or intense exercise, changing these routines would be recommended. You want to have the mindset of working around your back pain symptoms rather than trying to work through them, especially during the early stages of the injury.
Some daily physical exertions you will want to avoid when nursing a back injury include, carrying heavy bags or backpacks, over bending at the waist or twisting at the hips and if you include yoga as part of your daily routine you may also need to refrain from performing any exercises that put added pressure to your head, neck or back.
It has been validated that poor circulation can cause pain. Also, when the blood does not circulate correctly, oxygen and nutrients cannot reach tissues effectively, which can result in stiffness and cramping.
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