Watch your Back! (Literally)

Long nights of standing, sleeping on a less-than-comfortable bunk or car seat, and the added weight of an instrument call all lead to back pains for a musician.  Feeling the pain yet?  Ready for some relief?

Of course I’m going to lean on nutrition to provide some relief, but the truth is much of the relief will come from rest & exercises to strengthen your core.  The Mayo Clinic has a great list of exercise that are easy to do on the road. Don’t mind the model in the photos…Mayo Clinic clearly did not get the memo on the need for a hot model to entice musicians to do the exercises! Find a hidden spot away from the snickers of others and do these daily…if not 3 times a day!

In addition, I’m a huge fan of Thermacare products by Pfizer (please note, I do consulting & spokesperson work for Pfizer and the Centrum line, but I have not been paid to post or discuss anything in regards to Thermacare).  I have done some long, arduous hikes and put one of the patches on immediately following my hike and felt great the next day.  You may wish to use these regularly after a long musicfest night or a hard day of playing.

From the side of nutrition there are a couple things to consider:

  1. Gut check: the healthier your weight the easier it is on your back.  Subtle reduction in calories can slowly shed back the pounds. Don’t be silly and go on some crazy restrictive diet, but if you want to give up alcohol for a couple weeks I’m okay with that! The best approach is to eat more veggies to offset hunger & boost nutrition. I’ll help you fit them in!
  2. Dive deep…into the sea:  (gutter minds climb out) I’m speaking about fatty acids and fish!  Omega-3 fatty acids have been found to mimic the same biochemical pathway as an NSAID (Ibuprofen).  If you are reaching for the Ibuprofen, consider reaching for some Fish Oils instead (dosage seen to be effective ~2000mg / day).  You can also check out these great food sources in previous posts. The lemon-flavored cod liver oil is great!  Keep it in the fridge and take at night before you go to bed to avoid fish “burps.”
  3. Pick a Cherry:  I’ve said it numerous times, and I’ll say it again the flavonoids found in cherries have some great research emerging regarding pain relief.  Tart cherries are what you hear me tweet and post most about.  Either way, adding in a couple handfuls of cherries or tart cherry juice into your diet can help with pain and definitely will boost your nutrition profile!
  4. Boost your veggie intake:  There is something we [nutrition scientists] call the ORAC scale, and in this scale they measure the antioxidants found in food. If you have internal damage, strains, pains, etc. boosting your antioxidants (naturally, and not through a supplement) cannot hurt and may actually help!  If eating 8 – 10 servings seems impossible consider drinking some vegetable juices, 6oz = 1 serving. Please go beyond V-8, although I’m a fan, there are other nutrients found in other great veggie juices by either Naked Juice or Bottlehouse Farms.  Just eat more wholesome vegetables!  Welch’s grape juice is pretty high on the antioxidant spectrum, as well and you know I am a fan of Welch’s!
  5. Fill up with Fiber:  Studies are supportive in showing that a high fiber diet can help with arthritis pain.  Rule of thumb, for every 1000 calories you eat try to eat at least 14 grams of fiber.  Most females need about 25-30gm/day and males need about 35-40gm/day.  Before you run out and eat a box of Fiber One Bars…beware!  Increasing your diet with fiber foods too fast may leave your band mates hating you and you cursing me, and I don’t want that.  So go easy on the increase.  If you boost your veggies then fiber will follow (they go hand in hand).
Great websites for additional information:
If it is serious get to a physician!  Once healed, I absolutely recommend yoga, massages, and regular core exercises.  Until then, eat well & rest up–>the fans prefer you on the road over laid up in bed with a sore back!








 Just Wendy Jo

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2 thoughts on “Watch your Back! (Literally)

  1. An interesting post and one I will share on how nutrition can help support healing and pain relief.

    Have to agree with the AMA though, that the best treatment for low back pain and headache is chiropractic care, not rest or exercise, though both may be helpful when appropriate.

    • Definitely a great point and I’m always a fan of cross referring to folks with complimentary specialties. As a dietitian I stick within my area of expertise and scope of practice, which I think is key. Happy to refer!

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