By Ranjini Banerjee
Traditional healing methods are useful in treating agonising backache and providing relief
How would you feel if your trusted support system suddenly gave up on you one fine day? Life would come to a standstill, surely? Just like a good friend or secure bank account forms our emotional or mental support, our physical support comes from our backbone or spinal cord. Any damage or discomfort to it can adversely affect our entire being, besides causing immense pain and difficulty in carrying out even the normal functions of daily life. Unfortunately, our current lifestyle and daily stress coupled with lack of physical exercise makes us more prone than ever to this modern-day curse.
Backaches are something most of us have experienced at some time or the other. A sudden movement, sitting at your desk for long hours, bending down to pick up something and before you know your back has ‘gone’. It is surprisingly a physical discomfort that regular medication has not yet adequately addressed. So when troubled by an aching back, most of us have, time and again, reverted to time-tested traditional healing methods. Here are some of the options that can provide relief and possible cure from those agonising backaches.
It is all in the mind
Many different situations and reasons can trigger a back problem. However, like Louise L Hay strongly believes, there are mental thought patterns that affect our physical states. As she reveals in her book, Heal Your Body, the back represents the support of life. Problems in different parts of the back can indicate various causes – like a lower back problem could indicate financial insecurities. Pain in the middle portion of the back could indicate guilt that refuses to ‘get off’ your back. Upper back problem represents lack of emotional support.
Heal your back
A hot water bag held against the painful area is usually the best home remedy for any aches and pains. Other holistic treatments, which may work well for reducing or even healing back problems, are as follows:
Backache, medically known as lumbago, is known as nithamba shoola in ayurveda. According to ayurveda, backaches occur due to the vata dosha. Some natural ingredients used in treatment of such aches and pains are betel, garlic, Indian aloe, and lemon grass. Since the disease is caused by vata dosha, sour and fried food must be avoided. Avoid pulses in the diet of the patient. Reduce rice intake. Some herbal oils, which help in reducing backaches, are those of Prasarani, Narayana and Mahanarayana.
Tips for back pain relief
• Local application of paste made from equal portion of limestone and honey
• Local application of a solution prepared by grinding sesame seeds in warm water
• Local heating with a towel soaked in warm water mixed with cumin seed powder
• Drinking a glass of warm milk mixed with some pieces of cardamom and a pinch of turmeric
• Juice of one lemon mixed with common salt and consumed twice a day or applied locally gives relief
• Khus khus grass mixed and powdered with sugar candy (six grams twice a day) and consumed with milk helps in soothing back pain
Yoga is known to be highly beneficial in curing backache but must be done under the guidance of a yoga practitioner. Some common yoga postures which help in prevention of lumbago, are:
Acupressure, which involves stimulating certain acupoints in the body, are beneficial in curing back pain. Persistent lower backache may be treated by applying firm pressure to acupoints on the bladder and gallbladder meridians, which not only relieves pain but also stimulates the flow of qi or chi.
The B 54 acupressure points, present behind the knees, may help in healing pain and pressure from your back. The steps are as follows:
• Lie on your back with your legs up and keeping knees bent.
• Place your fingertips in the centre of the crease behind each knee
• Holding on to these points, gently rock your legs back and forth for one minute as you breathe deeply
• Let your feet rest flat on the floor, with your knees bent, and relax. Repeat thrice
Yet another alternative therapy which not just heals your body but also leaves you feeling relaxed and smelling good is aromatherapy. Severe backache can be reduced using the following aromatherapy oil blends applied locally or mixed in hot bathwater:
• 4 drops of blue chamomile essential oil
• 4 drops of birch essential oil
• 4 drops of rosemary, coriander or eucalyptus essential oil
• 4 drops of ginger or black pepper essential oil
• 14 drops of lavender essential oil
• ½ ounce of carrier oil
Back problems are often the result of a bad posture unless caused by other severe conditions. Hence, various forms of massage and movement awareness therapies can bring about remarkable improvement and cure for backaches by simply rectifying the postural problems. Many of these therapies use light touch, visualisation, and suggestions to re-programme the body’s ingrained image of itself, thereby healing postural problems and related aches and pains.
Some common forms of bodywork are Rolfing, Hellerwork, Feldenkrais method, and the Alexander technique.
T’ai chi ruler
T’ai chi is considered an effective treatment for stiffness and lower back pain by many practitioners. The t’ai chi ruler is one such form which is easy to learn and helpful in healing lower backache and pains. The ruler is usually made of wood and is approximately one inch thick and one foot long. The exercise can be performed without a ruler. The ruler exercise consists of the following steps, which when performed correctly, preferably in combination with the standing meditation, is believed to provide immense relief from back pain, and prevents its recurrence.
• Stand straight, with both feet parallel at a distance of one feet apart with arms at your sides
• Turn your left foot outwards 45 degrees. Take a half-step forward with your right foot, so that the heel of your right foot is in line with the ball of your left foot • Bring both arms slightly out from the side of the body, just enough to fit a fist in your armpit
• Press the ruler lightly between your palm
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