• Anke Mackenson

Back Pain: Causes and Prevention

There are many things that can happen to cause back pain. You can be fine one minute and the next minute you can be doubled over in pain.

Back pain can be caused by:

Reaching out for something

Staying still for too long

Sports injuries

Bad posture

Repetitive strain


Desk job

Weak muscles

Heavy lifting over a long period of time

Although the pain can happen suddenly, e.g. with lifting something, there is usually a reason behind the pain. Most of the time acute or chronic pain is the result of years of mismanagement of body and mind; unless of course the pain has been caused by a recent accident.

I remember when I was in a back clinic in Germany, 80% of patients there were people that had a slipped disk. Slipped disks seem to be the most common major back problem in the West. However, there are also other more serious conditions that cause back pain such as Osteoporosis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Herniated Disk and Spinal Stenosis.

Although I mentioned quite a few conditions above that can cause back pain, the most common ones nowadays in the West are:

1. Stress

2. Desk jobs

3. Staying Still

4. Weak Muscles

Unfortunately, very often all four can happen at the same time. This is particularly true for people working in stressful office jobs. From my own experience, I know that the combination of stress, sitting at a computer for many hours in the day and lack of exercise can lead to back or neck pain.

So, what can be done to reduce acute pain and to prevent back pain in the long run?

Acute pain:

Hot water bottle, hot bath or Sauna

Lying in a relaxed position on the floor on your back with legs bent and resting on a chair

Breathing deeply

Using non-prescription aids such as: Gels, Tiger palm, Essential oils and Ibuprofen

While I am not a fan of conventional pain killers, if you are in absolute agony and don’t usually take pain killers, then it’s okay to have the odd painkiller so you can rest and sleep without pain for a while. Of course, this is only a temporary solution for someone who is in a lot of pain. This enables you to not concentrate on the pain for a little while. You could also talk to a friend or try and read a book to distract you from the pain.

Just to mention a few oils here. Ginger is brilliant for muscular aches and pains and very good for relieving arthritic or inflamed joints. Rosemary is excellent for relieving back pain as it improves blood circulation. Frankincense is one of the best essential oils and has anti-inflammatory properties so can also be beneficial when treating back pain.

Once you have taken care of the short-term pain, you can start looking more long term and make sure the pain does not return. As with all healing processes, it’s not just a matter of improving one area in your life but rather looking at many factors.

Long term healing:

1. Exercise

In Germany, we have a saying that my Dad always tells me ‘wer rastet der rostet’ which means the one that stands still gets rusty.

We need to strengthen our core muscles to support our entire body. A strong core will help prevent future pain episodes. If you work in an office job, any type of exercise to keep your body moving and to gain muscle strength will be beneficial.

2. Stress reduction

We often hold tension in our back or neck so stress reduction is important. This could be a 10-minute walk at lunch time or a meditation.

Stress reduction could also mean looking at any conflicts either at work or at home that you might have been avoiding.

3. Rest time

It is during a time of rest that the body repairs itself. So, working hard in your office job all day, going straight to the gym and then going straight out after that, falling into bed and getting up in the morning to do the same all over again would not be very wise. Your body needs time to heal and benefit from the exercise and to rest from work too.

4. Less is more

Look into all areas in your life and notice where you can reduce your activities. It’s about prioritizing: first schedule time for exercise and rest time. During your time of recovery, you may have to say no to a few events or other regular commitments. The only way you can heal quickly is if you make yourself a priority.

5. Nutrition

I am not a nutritionist, but over the years I have made many changes when healing from chronic pain. Cutting out or reducing processed food and reducing refined sugars and drinking lots of water is a good start. Always keep nuts with you as a healthy snack at work. Drink lemon and ginger water in the morning.

6. Yoga

Ultimately it is about finding the type of exercise you enjoy. However, if you want to heal body and mind then yoga is one of the best healing method. When you are in pain, it means you have moved away from yourself. Yoga helps you coming back to yourself. Stretching, building up back and abdominal muscles and increasing alignment are some of yoga’s great benefits that are ideal for people suffering from back pain.

I hope that you found some of these tips helpful and wish you a pain free day at work.

Feel free to reach out to me if you are currently working in an office and experiencing pain or leave a comment.

Thank you.

Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed physician. It is not meant to cover all possible precautions, drug interactions, circumstances or adverse effects. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using alternative medicine or making a change to your regimen.

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