Tag Archives: back pain

Back pain: Walk it off

Back pain is becoming an increasing disability, increasing by more  than 50 per cent since 1990. A series of papers just released by The Lancet shows that most treatments such as surgery and the use of opioids is doing more harm than good.

back pain

Foto, courtesy Jesper Agergaard

Apart from accidents and genetic conditions, there are multiple reasons why chronic back pain is reaching epidemic proportions. Poor posture, stress and a mainly sedentary lifestyle are some of the obvious.  In Germany statistics from public health insurance companies show that back pain has been one of the main reasons for absenteeism from work for years, costing the national economy a fortune in lost productivity.

Anyone who has suffered lower back pain will know how debilitating it can be and what impact it can have on happiness and general well being. It can force us into a state of paralysis where even the most willing of minds is trapped in an incapable body.

During stress situations our muscles tighten, especially around the neck and shoulder areas. Pressure has to go somewhere and will eventually find an avenue around the weakest part of our back in the spinal discs of the lower back.

The spinal discs play a crucial part in supporting the upper body, and allowing a wide range of movement in all directions. The supporting muscles of the spine inevitably degenerate when we don’t exercise enough. A slipped disc often comes when performing a mundane task. Of course back pain has to be checked by a physician. Sometimes an underlying serious condition such as an infection of a vital organ or cancer can be the cause. Every body is different.

Having practised Tai Chi and yoga for years, I can really recommend these body arts as extremely healthy for body and mind with a good teacher giving special emphasis on body posture.

People with lower back pain initially find any type of exercise painful, making an already serious situation worse by reducing all movement and causing more muscle degeneration. Therefore the most simple way to start is simply by walking which increases the stability of the muscles in the feet, legs, hips and torso.

Gentle, slow walking also improves circulation, pumping urgently needed nutrients into the spine and removing the toxins.  You are in effect “walking off” that back pain. But with our busy lifestyle, most people will argue: “I don’t have the time to do at least 5-8 kilometers a day!”

There are many ways the mind tricks us into staying in a state of procrastination.  But here are some tips of integrating more walking into your daily routine:

  • Use the stairs rather than the elevator
  • Walk to work and back if you can, or use a parking further away from the office
  • Find a nature area you enjoy for your walk. Its that much more fun.
  • And the best tip of all: Get a dog. A dog will tell you in many ways when its time for a walk, be there rain or sunshine. Its a fact that dog owners are healthier, simply because they do more walking.

Reino Gevers – Mentor for Leaders and Achievers – Your Health Matters

Awakening the Fire Within – key principles of health and success. Enrolling now will give you a 25 per cent discount.

 “Walking on Edge – A Pilgrimage to Santiago” available both in Kindle and paperback.






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Muscle tension and stress

Psychological stress and tension affects us on many levels. A stiff neck and shoulders or back pain are typical symptoms.


When we face stress the body is flooded by stress hormones such as adrenalin, noradrenaline and cortisol. These cause the muscles to tighten up. In extreme cases the muscle fibres pressure the blood vessels causing circulatory disorder that can trigger inflammation.

A good circulation is particularly important to flush acidic waste or other products from cell tissue. Lack of nutrients and too much acidity typically cause fatigue and pain.

We might feel a stinging pain, sensitivity to pressure and limitation to body movements. Tense muscles or pain causes further tensing-up which puts us into a vicious cycle of stress and pain.

With most people doing office jobs we are top-heavy, meaning there is a lot of pressure and tension in the upper part of the body with the lower abdomen and the feet “losing their grounding”.

Muscle tension is not to be underestimated. A painful back and shoulders are often the first signs that “we are carrying too much”. It is amazing how many people just bear with it and become used to this pain. But the longer we wait in dealing with our stress management, the worse it will get. The quality of life suffers enormously on the long run.

Focusing our mind on slow, deep gentle breathing will help you relax, especially if you breathe out into the region of muscle tension. Take time out for yourself and find a spot where you can be at peace.

In the Taiji body arts we spend a lot of time aligning the three energy centres:

  • The lower Dan Tien below the navel that encompasses the area of the lower back and kidneys. Here we work on loosening the thighs so that energy can flow from the feet and legs.

  • The second Dan Tien from the breastbone to the lower end of the shoulder blades. Opening the chest and relaxing the shoulders

  • The third Dan Tien or “third eye” between the eyebrows. Lowering the chin towards your chest and aligning the centre of your head to a point about 60 cm above you so that your neck muscles are slightly stretched.


With an improved posture and good vertical alignment of the body your breathing will automatically improve and help you relax, even during times of stress. This takes time and patience, especially if you decide to learn the body arts such as yoga, taiji or qi gong. But the reward is immense. It makes you become more aware of your real needs on many levels and certainly improve your quality of life – pain free.

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