I’m very lucky because most of the time, I don’t suffer from daily muscle pain and my heart just breaks for those people who have to deal with regular pain management. Although I’m pain-free often, I do manage to destroy my neck and back a few times year by doing really, really stupid things.
For example, I hurt my neck a few years ago when I drank a little bit too much on my birthday at the zoo and slept for ten hours without moving. I couldn’t turn my head for three weeks. I also had a killer incident a few years ago when we were travelling around the US. I had a really bad cold that wouldn’t shift. I’d already reached my quota of three days of nasal spray use (because the bottle says I can only use it for three days and I never break the rules) and I was desperate to get some sleep. In utter frustration, in the middle of the night, I sniffed really, really hard to try to clear my sinuses and I pulled a muscle in my upper back. From sniffing. For real.
In celebration of my general idiocy and consequent injuries as a result of this general idiocy, I’ve popped together a few tips for how you can get through the day when your back/neck/womb is not co-operating. Keep in mind this is stuff that I’ve researched that has worked for me and is not medical advice – if you’re in a huge amount of pain definitely see a doctor.
1. Keep moving
It’s so hard to do this but you’ve just got to try to move as normally as possible. Even though it hurts. The problem with neck and back pain is that you tend to hold yourself in an unnatural way to compensate for your pain, which can result in additional pain in other areas of your body. If you’re in pain, gentle walking is essential to get your body back on the mend. Try you hardest to move as naturally as possible, to mend your body evenly. Again if you’re in a huge amount of pain, see a doctor. You don’t want to break things further.
2. Get a remedial massage
Every time I hurt my neck or back I always put off getting a remedial massage for two reasons. 1. They’re really expensive. 2. They hurt. However, the sooner you do this the better. I usually try to book in for a sports or remedial massage because those kinds of masseurs are trained to not hurt you further. Although once in desperation, I had a cheap relaxation massage in Thailand and it still worked a treat. It’s not fun and it’s really painful but it will get your blood flowing to the affected area it will give you back some of your movement, which really is the key to getting better. The few times I’ve hurt myself badly, a remedial massage has halved my recovery time. My advice? Do it sooner rather than later.
3. Go cold then hot
Ice will soothe inflammatory pain and heat will ease stiffness and cramping. If I pull something I pop a bag of peas wrapped in tea towel on the sore spot then I’ll follow it up with a good old fashioned wheat bag that I pop in the microwave for a few minutes. You can also fill a sock with rice and it will do the trick nicely, as will a hot water bottle. A hot bath can also do wonders particularly if you use Epsom salts. Epsom salts absorbed through the skin can help relieve muscle tension, pain, and inflammation in your joints.
4. Medicate it
If I’ve hurt my back I’m usually okay to deal with the pain during the day but when it comes to night time, I will do anything and everything to get some sleep. I just need a little something to take the edge off and relax my muscles. I’m a fan anything anti-inflammatory but you need to be a bit careful because they can be very harsh on your tummy, so just watch out for that. Do check with your chemist first though, but don’t be afraid to seek out medication. Just make sure you check with a medical professional before you take anything.
5. Don’t push it
Movement is essential but that doesn’t mean you should go to Zumba class or start working your way through the Karma Sutra with your lover. Tread carefully, be gentle and listen to your body. If it twinges when you go to tie up your shoelaces, listen to it and proceed with caution.
Note: This is just my personal experience with my specific kind of back, neck and period pain. Never take any medication without talking to a doctor or pharmacist and you if suffer from chronic pain of any kind, definitely seek help… but if you just happened to have performed an over-enthusiastic cartwheel for the first time in a decade and caned your neck, I can totally vouch for a hot bath and a killer massage.