Mindfulness for Back Pain

Back pain has multiple causes including, genetic disposition, repetitive activities, injury, diet, posture, stress, smoking, age, sedentary lifestyle, and arthritis. The combination of these causes leads to spinal joint inflammation and muscle strain. Your chiropractor can address the pain from inflammation and muscle strain, but it will come back if you do not address the causes.

Mindfulness for back pain

How Mindfulness Can Help

Mindfulness is a powerful tool to help address many of the causes of back pain because it puts your mind back in touch with your body. Our modern world tends to make us goal focused, looking out there, while we are unaware of the subtle tensions that arise in our bodies through everyday activity. These tensions can build up to such a degree that the body finally starts to break down, leading to pain. When you are more in touch with your body you will not like the effect of eating unhealthy food, you will feel restless with a sedentary lifestyle, you will be aware of the hormonal changes in your blood chemistry caused by stressful situations. Your habitual postures will start to feel uncomfortable, you will notice the strain that repetitive activities are placing on your body.

When you are more aware of these negative effects, you will feel compelled to make changes. Mindfulness will make you eat a better diet, exercise more, maintain better posture and, most important of all, find creative ways to deal with stress in your life.

History of Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a Buddhist practice that started to filter to the west in the sixties. As more and more people found the practice beneficial, meditation centres sprang up in Europe and the USA. Mindfulness is one aspect of the Buddhist spiritual path known as the Eightfold Noble Path. Many people found the practice hard to stomach, either because it challenged their Christian beliefs. Others found it difficult because people were becoming averse to anything that smacked of religion.

Jon Kabat Zinn, an American writer and ex-Buddhist monk, is recognised as a major proponent in the secularisation of mindfulness. Since the 70’s universities around the world have been studying the effects of mindfulness, based on his work. Researchers have published hundreds of  papers that show remarkable benefits for this practice. Bangor, Exeter and Oxford are the main universities where mindfulness is studied. You can get masters degrees and other post graduate qualifications in mindfulness from these universities.

The universities developed an eight week, one evening a week, course based on thirty years of research into mindfulness practice; Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction.  I include simple mindfulness practices as part of my treatments for people suffering from back pain and stress at my chiropractic clinics in Chester and North Wales, but to really get a taste for mindfulness I would recommend the 8 week MBSR training as a starting point.

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