As published on 11/18/13 in the EFT Universe Insights.
In my chiropractic practice, I use EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) with my patients when it feels appropriate. Yesterday was a busy day.
Four people called pleading for immediate treatment for severe back pain either for themselves or for their husbands. They hadn’t hurt themselves lifting some really heavy cooler of salmon they had just caught or chopping wood for the winter for hours on end or falling down while foraging for local mushrooms … nope.
One turned and bent forward in the shower, another sat on the sitting lawn mower for hours, another awoke from sleeping fitfully, having been under a lot of work stress and anxiety, and another had sat all day at his computer—all of them could barely straighten up afterward and none had done anything out of their normal routine.
They are not alone.
An estimated 75–85% of Americans will experience back pain, and 50% of all working adults say they suffer from it. Back pain is one of the most common reasons to miss work and over $50 billion are spent in the United States each year on treatment.
Everyone hates to be in pain, and few of us have patience for it. So most people seek pain relief from medications, but that’s problematic, as more than 700,000 Americans end up in the emergency room every year from adverse drug reactions and over 180,000 die just from “properly” prescribed medications, the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S.
So what do I tell my patients will reduce their chances of suffering from back pain, and increase their health and longevity at the same time? Three things will make a huge difference:
1. Get up, stand, and move!
Sitting too long without breaks is literally harming your back and killing you. Studies continue to show that the longer you sit without taking a break the increased likelihood of back pain and death.
The Archives of Internal Medicine recently released a report showing a clear association between sitting and “all-cause mortality,” and that sitting for 11 hours a day increases death by 40% for causes such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and other conditions.
So, do not sit for more than an hour without getting up to stretch, breathe, move, change your position…just stop, pause, and add years to your back and your life. Even if you do your cardiovascular exercise several times per week, it does not balance out the number of hours of prolonged sitting.
2. Be present in your body.
There are numerous ways to “be here now” and awaken to being in your body and finding ease with a sense of vitality and relaxation. In addition to chiropractic, there are many ways to become mindful in your body, ranging from Feldenkrais and the Alexander technique to a wide variety of yoga practices, core strengthening with breath and mindful attention such as Pilates, and energetic practices such as tai chi and qigong.
Finally, just say yes to meditation! There are so many great practice styles from Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction courses to Vipassana yoga classes and practices born out of nearly each and every spiritual path. I teach a simple 8-minute form called Right Brain Start Up. Just make a commitment to yourself and do it already.
Then watch what a difference it makes in being more present to your thoughts, your body, and your environment, with more health benefits than any vitamin shake or super-food.
3. Find ways to resolve your internal stress/angst/anxiety/negative emotions.
Continuing studies reveal that underlying emotional stress and unresolved trauma can have a massive influence on the likelihood and chronic pain and reduced health in general. The ACE (Adverse Childhood Experience) studies go a long way in showing this correlation as does the work of Gabor Mate, MD
Mind-body techniques like EFT, originally developed by Gary Craig, as one well-researched example, can be extremely effective in reducing the internal intensity of negative thoughts and feelings that lead to increased tension (muscular, cardiovascular, etc.) that can easily lead to the onset of back pain with just a bad night’s sleep or a simple wrong movement when the stress is there in the body waiting for an excuse to finally get your attention.
I had to learn this the hard way years ago when my back had gone into spasm and I was bent over in pain after working in the yard for most of the day. I was confident that I knew that the cause was physical overwork in the garden. When my wife, Alina, offered her EFT services to help me, I initially turned her down, as I reached for the ice pack and lay on my back.
Eventually, I relented and let her tap with me. Within 10 minutes, I was realizing that beneath the back pain was the underlying anger that I had been feeling about having to be responsible for work that I was doing that I did not feel I should have had to do. I was in the midst of getting a house from a previous marriage ready to sell and had been silently stewing about the extra physical and strenuous work that I was having to take on.
Fifteen minutes later, my back pain was 90% resolved. This forced me to rethink how I viewed the pain of all my patients.
It was a profound and life-altering experience for me.
That being said, employing good posture, keeping your spine well aligned, eating a healthy diet, having a solid support system, stretching, having a strong core, keeping your weight down, and staying active physically are all important contributing factors.
Keeping yourself emotionally and energetically balanced, however, is the best way to ensure a healthy body and especially a healthy back.
Good luck. If you do not take my tips seriously, you can always call my office in the morning!
Craig Weiner, DC